Tips to do well in Mathematics

(I) Cultivating Good Habits
1. Set aside time to review what is taught in the lesson. Research shows that immediate review increases long-term memory compared to do the same amount of review or day or more later.
  • Go through the handouts that were referred to during the lesson. You may login to the AceLearning Portal to watch the lesson video.
2. Practise to consolidate learning
  • If you have finished your homework (or if no homework is assigned that day), turn to the relevant chapter in the Maths Workbook and select similar questions to attempt. 
  • Consider setting aside 20-30 minutes everyday for regularly revision. You may login to AceLearning Portal to attempt the "Progressive Mastery Programme" to practise the procedure. 
  • Regular practice helps to improve your mastery of the procedure. It helps to improve the fluency and therefore the speed when answering questions.
3. All worked solutions to problems should be legibly written and well organised. Make it a habit not to skip steps, especially when you are first introduced to the concept or procedures. This will help you to present your thoughts clearly to the reader of your working.

4. Attentively review all the work returned to you. Read the feedback that is written on the handouts. Seek help when you do not understand how to do the corrections.

5. Do not say "I knew it". Often, when we observe a classmate worked out the solution at the board, we told ourselves that we understand and know how to do the same. The proof of one's ability is to do it and experience it. We need to "do" it so that we can remember the "how" to do it.

6. When solving problems, do not go straight into "working" on the problem using familiar methods. Read the problem carefully. It is essential to understand the problem. Identify the important information presented. You may need to break down the problem into smaller problems to tackle. Then, think of strategies that could be applied to the situation.

7. Do not expect all problems in examinations/ tests are similar to the assigned homework problems. It is important to apply what we learnt to solve new problems. Apart from the regular practice, make an attempt to read go through reference materials to see how similar concepts can be presented in a variety of scenarios. Think through how the problems can be solved (if you are unable to do all these questions).

8. Do not multi-task while studying. You need to give the material your full attention. Learning takes not only effort and time, but also intense concentration.
  • Organise your time so that you do not expect to be electronically interrupted while working.
  • Close the learning device when you are practising on paper. 
  • If you are using online platforms like the AceLearning Portal, limit yourself to just that "window"/"tab" in the browser. Turn off auto-notification from applications like Facebook and Chats.

(II) Support Structures

(I) Study Groups
1. Form a study group with 2 to 3 good friends where you will meet regularly. Not too big a group, else you will be distracted.

2. Structure your meeting time.
  • E.g. Meet on every Thursday at the Info Hub for 2 hours.
3. Have a clear focus of the meeting. Do not digress to discuss other things, else you will not complete what you set off to do in the 2 hours.
  • E.g. To complete Maths Homework. 
  • E.g. Set target for revision - Term 3 Week 1, attempt the first 10 questions of the "Real Numbers" in the Exam Preparation Booklet
4. Assist each other with learning.
  • Verbalising subject matter to others frequently enhances learning. 
  • Effective verbal and written communication of the course material is a strong indicator of a sound knowledge of the subject matter. 
(II) Sources of Help
When you do not understand a concept or method, seek help immediately. It is your responsibility to seek immediate help when needed.

1. Know the various means to reach your teacher: Email, G-Chat, Facebook, Whats Apps
  • While technology has made your teacher to be very accessible, it is not necessary for he/she to wait for your questions 24 x 7. 
  • While you may still ask your teacher "last minute" questions; realistically, he/ she may not be able to respond within the next 6 hours (especially if you post your question at night). 
  • Always give yourself (and your teacher some buffer time to respond to your questions).
2. If you need to verify your answer or need help to check what has gone wrong in the working, email a photograph of the question and the working. This would help the teacher to go through the working and point out the error much more easily.

(III) Preparation of Examination/ Test

1. Review all materials related to the topics, including all the homework problems.
  • Practice is necessary. Do not just "read" what you had done. Attempt the questions to go through the "problem solving" process. Writing helps you to acquire fluency when 
2. Try to simulate the testing environment by practising revision papers/ past-year papers (from the Exam Preparation Booklet, Maths Workbook, Past year papers available at the Info Hub).
  • Sit down to determine if you can readily work through the paper without any assistance or reference to materials.
  • Before doing this, you should have reviewed all the topics and 'as if' you are ready to sit for the examination/ test.
3. Rest well the night before the examination/ test. You need a clear mind to read the questions carefully and attempt to solve them.

4. Make sure you pack all the necessary materials in your bag (before leaving for school in the morning). Key things include:
  • A working calculator with the approval sticker. Good to have an extra calculator to stand-by
  • Long ruler to draw graphs
  • Sharp pencil for drawing
  • Construction set (Protractor, compass, set-square)
  • Other writing materials

(IV) During the Examination/ Test

1. Read instructions at the cover page carefully.
  • You must present all your working and answer all the questions in ink, with the exception of drawing of graphs/ charts when you may use a pencil.
2. Manage your time. "Scan" all the questions very quickly and identify those that you are confident to work on first.
  • The first question may not be the easiest of all; the last question may not be the most difficult.
  • Attempt these questions before moving on to those you need to spend more time to think or work out the steps.
3. Read the questions carefully. Circle key words. 
  • E.g. "Hence", "Evaluate", "as a single fraction", "index notation"
4. Check that the answers (including the units) that you write in the "Answer" blank against what you write in the answer space, to avoid transfer error.

5. Label all the parts of the working clearly and correctly.

6. Check the mark that is allocated to the question. This will give you a good gauge on the extent of working expected from you.

7. Use the calculator to check the answer. Your calculator can help you to error-check your answers in algebra-related questions.
  • E.g. If you are not sure if expanding  a(a + b + c) = 2a + ab + ac? Try substituting a = 1, b = 2 and c = 3 into a(a + b + c), you will get 6 whereas 2a + ab + ac will give 7, which means a(a + b + c) ≠ 2a + ab + ac.
8. Check the reasonable-ness of your answer.
  • E.g. A triangle with the sum of two sides added up to give 10 cm cannot possibly have the third side of more than 20 cm.
  • E.g. When rounding off 2361 to 2 significant figures will not be 24 since the original figure is more than a thousand!
9. Do not rush through your calculation, especially arithmetic, making careless mistakes like 5^2 = 10. However, that does not mean being over dependent on the calculator for the simple arithmetic calculation. Otherwise, time is wasted to key in the numbers to the device.

  1. Baylor University > Mathematics: Studying Tips
  2. Northern Virginia Community College: Tips on How to Study Math
  3. Montana State University > Department of Mathematical Sciences: How to study and learn Math
  4. Math Goodies: Top 10 Strategies for Improving Math Grades at Any Level
  5. University of Minnesota > Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition:  Learning Strategies for Mathematics

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