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Five ways to revise for a Maths exam

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Here are a few ways we recommend:

1: USE YOUR TEXTBOOK
Your textbook is full of explanations and worked examples that you can study and use to improve your understanding. It’s a good idea to find a topic you need help with, read through the explanation before analysing the examples – I recommend copying them out – and then answering the questions at the end of the section to see how well you have understood the topic. Then use the answers at the back of the book to check your understanding. Depending on how you do, will decide whether you attempt more questions or move onto another topic. Generally, if you are getting 90% of the questions correct, that is a good gauge to move onto another topic.

2: PRACTICE WITH PAST PAPERS
Around 80% of what I do with my learners is based on past papers. Working through past papers can help you to familiarise yourself with the layout of the paper, how questions are organised, what the most common types of questions regularly come up in an exam and how questions are worded (usually different to that of a worksheet).
Using the mark scheme alongside the test paper is useful for understanding what marks are awarded for and how an examiner may perceive your answers. When working through a past paper the best process is to answer three or four question, with an appropriate time limit, and then use the mark scheme to mark your answers and see how the marks were awarded for each question.

3: REVISE IN SMALL GROUPS
The main reason why Maths revision in groups works so well is that you learn more from a conversation than you do from a lecture. Revising with your peers can have more benefit than just listening to a teacher lecturing. Taking part in a group discussion around a particular topic or question can help things become easier to understand, especially if everyone is feeding back their answers and explanations. The reason this works is that two (or more) heads are better than one and the chances of everyone in your group being at the same ability is small. So, all the individuals can bring something different to the table. For example, different ways of calculating answers and variety in their explanations. Often, there will be questions where one of you can see how to start and someone else will see how to finish – between you, you can figure the whole thing out.

4: MAKE INSTRUCTIONS
One of the most effective ways to learn and understand a new topic is to write down the steps you have to take to solve the problem – either as a list or as a flowchart.
The key is to make everything as detailed as possible – imagine you’re explaining it to your parents or a younger sibling. Use examples or workings out at each step to give a visual demonstration on how it’s done. You use a different part of your brain when you’re explaining things than when you’re reading or listening. This helps you to gain a deeper understanding of the topic you are explaining.

5: MAKE A SUMMARY SHEET                                                                                                                       A summary sheet (or booklet) with everything you could possibly want to know written on it for easy access. For example, a maths summary sheet might have instructions on how to solve triangles, all of the important vocabulary you need to remember and the important formulas, such as the sine and cosine rules.                                                                                 Make it as colourful as possible – using colour and drawing pictures helps you to remember things later on – and spend the last few minutes before your exam scanning over it, to get as much of it as possible into your short-term memory.

Hope these tips are useful and good luck with your revision schedules!

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