Revise the following concepts – they are critical:
- Fractions, ratios and percentages
- Geometry – area and circumference of circle, breaking down a composite figure into circle, square, triangle, volume of cube and cuboid. Find unknown angles in squares, rectangles, parallelograms, rhombus, trapezium and triangles.
- Algebra – representing an unknown with a letter, simplification of algebraic expressions and evaluation of expressions by substitution.
Manage your time
You have 50 minutes for Paper 1 and it consists of 40% of the total score. Spend about 1min per mark. Paper 2 is 1hr 40mins long and it has 60% of the total score. You have about 1.5minutes per mark – so for four mark questions you can expect to spend 6 minutes. You have more time in Paper 2 than in Paper 1, but the questions are typically tougher and you’re expected to show your working.
Some questions are easy – do these calmly and carefully but quickly and move on, so that you will have time for the harder questions.
If you’re stuck on a question, leave it first. Come back to question after you finish the whole paper.
If you’re sharp on time, you should have about 10mins left. Go back to the questions you’ve left unsolved and attempt them. If you’re able to solve them in 3-4 minutes, go ahead. If you’re not, leave them again and check.
Look through the paper quickly and make sure you’ve answered all the questions. Make sure there is no calculation mistakes and careless errors. Once you’re satisfied, go back and spend the rest of the time on the unsolved questions.
Don’t leave any question unanswered. If it’s an MCQ you can guess the best answer and your odds of getting it correct may be more than 50%. If it’s a structured question you may get awarded marks for working even if the answer is wrong.
Typically you’ll be able to solve for the exact answer. If you don’t see the answer in the choices you must have made a mistake. Go through the question again to make sure you’ve understood it, and attempt it again. Don’t bother with the other choices.
Sometimes, however, you’re asked to estimate, or to guess. In these cases, the choices can help you. For example, if you’re asked to estimate the height of a door, the choices are : 1m, 2m, 10m, 20m. You can eliminate 1m (too short) 10m and 20m (too tall).
For difficult problem sums, attempt a model diagram even if you’re completely stuck. Sometimes after you’ve attempted to draw you get an understanding of the problem will be able to solve it.
Some questions are broken into parts a) and b). Solve them in this order. The answer in part a) may help you for part b). Sometimes, however, a) and b) may be completely different – don’t let that confuse you.
Remember units! Some questions specify which units you must use, some don’t. If they don’t, use any unit you want, but don’t leave it out. Some questions ask for you to leave the answer in terms of pi, some asks for you to use pi as 3.14 or 22/7. Follow the instructions!
Even if the question is very difficult, don’t leave it blank. Remember that you may get awarded marks for working.
Stay calm and have a positive and focused mind. The best way to approach the questions is with a clear, open mind, and being calm will reduce errors. Don’t worry about your past grades, or how well you’re going to do for this paper or the subsequent one. Now isn’t the time to be thinking of other things. Just work through the exam, one question at a time. Do your calculations carefully but quickly. If you’re stuck, don’t let that bother you. Leave it aside and focus on the next one. Worrying about another problem won’t help you solve the current one!
Sleep early. There is no point doing last minute revisions. Even if you haven’t finished your revisions, it is more productive to sleep early than to revise till 1 or 2am into the night. Especially for maths, you want to tackle the paper with a fresh mind. Sleep an hour earlier than you normally sleep at. Maybe drink a glass of milk before you sleep to help you rest better.
Eat your usual breakfast. Don’t try anything funny. You don’t want to be struggling with a stomach-ache.