Search

# How to attain an A* in A Level Mathematics- ''The details''

We all want that star on our A, and the only way to get it is to go the extra mile.

As promised as a continuation from our previous blog post, here are proven techniques used to ace A Level Mathematics:

Let’s say you’re practicing questions on differentiation. You do a couple questions and you mark your work. Don’t forget to do your dirt on the questions you got wrong. The best method is to solve questions in black/blue ink, mark answers in red, and do your dirt in green. This way, you create a map, which makes it easy to trace questions you struggled with, as well as the right solution to those questions.

When doing your dirt, make sure to write down the full solution and not just the final answer. Remember, method marks will be awarded in the exam.

Writing down only the final answer as your dirt to a question would get you nowhere.

Imagine this. It’s a month to your exam and you want to brush up on your differentiation. It becomes easy if you have a practice book filled with questions you’ve already done, marked and done your dirt on.

You pick out the questions you got wrong and do them on a blank sheet of paper to check if you remember how to solve it.

To mark this question, all you do is revisit your practice book and follow the dirt you did.

If you had only written down the final answer to the question as dirt, you would have to spend time you don’t have, looking for the full solution to that question in your textbooks.

It’s simple, do this, and save yourself time. You want to revise efficiently.

2. Be honest with yourself

When marking your work, be honest with yourself. Don’t mark an answer right because it was close to the right answer. You're only setting yourself up for failure. Be very disciplined with your work. Try to catch yourself out for any little mistake.  This way, you would know where you make the silliest mistakes and be extra vigilant during the examination.

It’s better to be hard on yourself now rather than later.

If you keep letting yourself off, you'd never learn. All those mistakes would plague your answer sheet during exams. You’d be expecting an A and end up with a low B.

3. Have a revisit tray

Have a tray on your study table for questions that you mucked up. You could get a blank sheet of paper and start filling it up with questions you would like to re-do in the future, to assure yourself that you fully understand the solution. Having said this, it is very important that you re-visit the questions you had to do dirt on. Research has shown that within one hour, people forget an average of 50% of new information, 70% within 24 hours and 90% within a week. It’s therefore good practice to re-visit problem questions in 24 hours, and then a week later. This would keep the solution imprinted in your memory.

4. Keep all your work in one place

You can have a book for practising each topic (for example, I had separate practice books for differentiation and integration). This makes it easier to find questions you’ve done before. In addition, a week before the exam, it would be good to practice at least one question from each topic, and it would be great if you knew where to look for these problem questions.

5. Try every question you come across

Try to do all the practice questions under each topic in your textbook. Some questions aim at getting you to become comfortable with a concept, while others crack your brain and get you to do a little thinking. It would be best to do many questions that get you comfortable, and then attempt the difficult ones after.

6. Practice an exam question (Follow the marking scheme)

After practising a particular topic, try doing an exam question. Then follow the mark scheme as you mark your work. Acing exams these days is mostly reliant on knowing how you’re expected to answer questions.

First, you grasp the concept and method, and then you learn how to present your answer.

7. Time yourself

This is very important. When practising past exam papers, give yourself 30 minutes shorter than the required time. Because 1 hour in the comfort of your home is equal to 1.5hrs under exam pressure. You could also try distracting your mind. My mathematics tutor got my mates and I to do timed exam questions while listening to Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind (this song haunts me to this day). The trick is training your brain for a marathon, when preparing it for a 100m sprint.

8. Be vigilant during exams

You’ve done your best at preparing for the exam. Remember to take your time and be vigilant when answering questions. Solve questions you find easy first, then move on to the more difficult ones. Take your time when solving questions you would normally muck up. Go through your answers slowly after you’re done. Trust me, you’ll find a few mistakes and save yourself before time is up.

Because I timed myself shorter during revision, I mostly finished my papers about 15 minutes before time, which gave me ample time to crosscheck my answers.

I remember finishing my C4 paper right on time. Though I had no time to cross check, I was glad I finished, because very few of my mates had the opportunity to. I strongly believe my ability to always finish my papers and score high marks were attributed to my intense preparation for the exams.