How to Do Well in Maths Methods: 7 Steps to Get Better at Methods
The jump from Year 10 Maths to Year 11 Maths Methods (previously Maths B) feels more like a leap across a great chasm, the shock of which leads many to fall far from the other side. A great number of students pre-emptively drop to General Maths, many of whom are discouraged by their teachers or even parents.
The good news is it is possible to not just pass, but rather to do well and get an A by putting in consistent effort and strategies.
If your last maths exam was a blemish to your otherwise perfect report card, or you’ve always had difficulty with mathematical concepts, here are 7 things that will help you to get better at Maths Methods.
1. Do All the Different Questions for Each Maths Section
In Maths Methods, each section teaches a very specific principle – for example, solving linear algebraic equations. Once the principle is grasped, the basic level questions are easily solvable.
Within each section, however, there are variations of the basic question that take it to the next level – some of these may incorporate principles taught in previous chapters.
If you want to learn how to do well in Maths Methods, It’s vital to attempt these tricky questions, and learning from these will develop a complete understanding of the mathematical principle.
Ideally, students should review their thought process and work backwards with the answer provided to figure out how to correctly solve the tricky questions. This can be a time when collaboration with peers comes in (see below).
Lastly, they should be marked down to be discussed with a tutor or your teacher in class.
2. Join a Maths Study Group
Working with others might be an unwelcome necessity in the workforce, but collaborative learning in maths study shouldn’t be considered a challenge to overcome. If the right people are gathered, in the right situation, and the right environment, studying in groups and collaborating with other students can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s one of the absolute best ways to make those really difficult subjects enjoyable!
Every student, obviously, is an individual, and has different strengths and weaknesses. One of the greatest benefits of group study is that students can learn from each other’s strengths, and support their weaknesses. Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses is essential if you want to improve in Maths Methods, and your peers can help you with that.
Finally, in Maths Methods – and all other subjects, really – a harmonious study group encourages you to actively engage in problem-solving. This is the absolute core principle of maths, as opposed to being spoon-fed the method and answer at every step.
Teaching others is proven to help solidify core knowledge in your brain, as it helps transfer information from short-term memory to long-term memory, ultimately helping you understand how to do well in Maths Methods.
As you can see, rehearsal of content helps shift it from short–term memory to long–term. Continuous rehearsal – say, helping others with their work – is sure to build up a strong foundational knowledge base!
3. Have a Good Relationship with Your Maths Teacher
Teachers make a big difference in any subject, but in maths, improper communication can be like learning in a different language.
Being in the teacher’s good books isn’t so they’ll give you the exam questions. It’s more about learning in an atmosphere where you will feel comfortable to ask a question. Asking questions can make the difference between passing Maths Methods and doing well in Maths Methods.
We’ve all heard maths teachers say there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
Making your teacher acknowledge your questions and diligence is simple – demonstrate you are working hard.
Take note of what you don’t understand in Maths Methods class (write it down if you’ll forget), and ask questions during the brief pauses teachers indicate they want you to ask a question. Other than that, students should clarify about homework and show teachers their worked modelling and problem solving (MAPS) questions.
Even though it will be rare, you may get a teacher with whom you just don’t click. Their style of teaching may be in opposition to your learning language, or they may have a pre-existing bias against you.
Whatever the case, there are times when it is best to request a change into another class. If you have a history and reputation of taking your maths study seriously, carefully considered communication with school authorities will pave the way for you to get better at Maths Methods.
4. Learn How To Properly Show Working
From Year 10 onwards, the use of mathematical language to show working is just as important as being able to solve the question itself.
From a marking point of view, the most you can get with just the correct answer is a D, even if your thought process was 100% correct. With minimal working that goes up to a C, and once the principles of mathematical language are understood, you will finally discover how to study for Maths Methods. That’s how A’s are usually achieved.
For such an important part of Maths Methods, it’s ridiculous to think that it’s not actually formally taught per se – there isn’t one class dedicated purely to teaching mathematical language.
“So,” I hear you ask, “how do I learn to show working then?”
Pay attention to the teacher’s full worked examples of MAPS questions.
Sometimes, the whole class is stumped by a particularly challenging MAPS question, in which case the teacher does it on the board.
Take this opportunity to note the teacher’s use of mathematical language – it will be an A-level example of what the teacher expects in the exam. If you know this is a critical area for you, copy it completely so you can go through it again.
Mathematical language is something slowly developed for as long as you do maths. This is because each teacher’s expectations vary somewhat, and you must adapt their requirements.
It’s always wise to ask for feedback from your teacher after you’ve done a full MAPS question. Apart from checking the answer, ask them what they think about your working, and how you could improve.
Lastly, observe your study group’s working and incorporate what you like into your own style of mathematical language. As stated above, collaboration is a powerful tool that can facilitate and enrich maths learning.
5. Develop a MAPS Strategy and Study
Have you ever studied long and hard before an exam, only to eventually get to the test paper and think to yourself,
“What the heck? This is nothing like what I learnt in class!”
Say no more. The MAPS questions we’ve been referencing throughout this blog can be quite tricky to figure out, but they do have their own strategy and principles.
The reason Modelling and Problem Solving can be tricky is because they combine multiple mathematical principles that you learnt throughout the term. Not only that, they’re presented as real–life situations, in ways that are often unconventional.
It’s important that you analyse the problem beforehand and map out all of your goals. This will save you any precious time that might get wasted if you had rushed in, and gone down the wrong path.
Our maths tutors teach their students certain systematic strategy for tackling MAPS questions with maximum time efficiency.
6. Don’t Neglect Your Maths Methods Assignments
Maths assignments are a sensitive issue that summons an atmosphere of competitive secrecy. Everyone is trying to achieve the top mark, the top place in the class – and assessments often present the greatest challenge.
This is a time when sources of external help – A Team Tuition tutors, for example – are the most valuable, as the same oath of secrecy does not bind us. Having said that, Maths Methods assignments require knowledge and problem solving not explicitly taught in class that challenges even high school maths graduates.
Before we discuss assignment tactics, it needs to be said that if you want to pass Maths Methods, you should always, always, always start your assignments early.
Never fear – remember, you are more than capable of accomplishing them! Contrary to popular belief, your teacher would not assign you an absolutely impossible task.
7. Recognise When to Get Extra Help
The prerequisite for learning additional knowledge is that you know the basics. Sometimes, early difficulties can lead to falling too far behind in a section, chapter, or even a whole subject. Maths Methods isn’t an elementary-level course, so you need to make sure you know the basics if you want to pass.
How do you know when you need to get help?
Get extra help if you hardly understand anything from class and every lesson seems like a chore. Get help if absolutely nothing makes sense, and you’re struggling to keep up with the rest of the class. Get help if you need to push yourself from a C to a B, or from a B+ to an A.
What I’m saying is, get help whenever you can, and whenever you want.
There should never be any shame in asking for help. Whether you’ve struggled with Maths Methods from day one, or you’re acing everything except that one key area – it doesn’t matter. Help is available to you whenever you need it – from teachers, parents, or A Team Tuition tutors, at any time.
Still Wondering How to Do Well in Maths Methods?
From learning to show your work, to understanding how to do your assignments the right way, Maths Methods can be a challenging subject to study, let alone do well in. But don’t fear! There is always help when needed, specifically in the form of a tutor.
If you’re struggling to get the grade you want in Maths Methods this term, a private tutor might be right for you – and A Team Tuition is here to help. Our tried and true tutoring methods can help you improve in any subject with at-home and online tutoring. Find a maths tutor near you today!