Making mistakes - How I attained an A* in A level mathematics.

It’s okay to make mistakes. What matters is how you learn from them.

This blog post is focused on mistakes made when practising questions during revision.

Only over two years ago, I was preparing to sit my A Level mathematics exam. If you study or have studied mathematics, you would know that the best way to prepare for a maths exam is to practice a lot of questions.

The discouraging feeling when you get an incorrect answer to a question, just because of a little step you missed is indescribable. Various thoughts begin to flood your mind – “Am I going to repeat this mistake during the exam?”, “Am I ready for this?”, “I’m a failure”.


The truth is no, you are not a failure, and no you are not going to repeat such mistakes in the exam, if you learn from them.

Making silly mistakes during revision is a big blessing in disguise. This is because it prevents you from making the same mistakes during the exam.

Most people think getting a lot of questions right from the jump and barely making mistakes is progress. Contrary to that, the real progress is making silly mistakes and taking note of them. This way, you train your brain to take its time when solving certain questions, because it knows it easily mucks them up.

For example, in differentiation, you sometimes forget to reduce the power, which results in an incorrect result (no pun intended).

Your next step would be to:

1. Go through a question again slowly, while using the solution as a guide.

2. Take a blank sheet of paper and solve the same question without guidance.

Repeat step 1 if you are still finding it difficult.

3. Practice a lot of similar questions in one sitting until you stop making mistakes.

4. Select one question

5. Write this question down on a sticky note and paste it somewhere around your room or house.

6. Re-do this question in 24 hours. This gives your brain a bit of time to forget and catch itself out.

Repeat steps 1-6 if you are still finding it difficult.

7. Re-do this question again in a week, then in a month if you still want to catch yourself out.

Doing this trains the brain to remember one thing, to always reduce the power. It also helps you to get used to solving differentiation questions. This means that, under time pressure (in the exam), you’d be able to solve such a question correctly in minimal time.

After attaining an A* in A Level mathematics, I reflected on my revision techniques and realised that my mistakes shaped my preparation for the exams. However, they only did so positively because of how I learnt from them. In the next blog post, I would list several key techniques I employed during my revision. Stay tuned!

You’ve made it to the end of today’s blog post. Hope you had a good read! Do not hesitate to contact us about topics mentioned, or for some more advice.

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