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5 Tips for studying Maths in any year

By Danielle Barakat on 12 August 2020NSWblogMathsStudy tips

No matter what stage of school life you’re up to, studying for Maths is one of those tasks that seems harder and more confronting than it actually is once you get started. The hardest part about Maths study is knowing what the most effective methods are and how to get yourself ready to answer any possible question for every topic.

So, whether your in NSW about to sit your year 12 Trial exams 😅, in QLD about to do your final internal assessment of the year 💪 or in year 9 and 10 just looking for a way to get through your next in-class assessment, our top 5 tips for studying Maths will prepare you to take on any Maths question that comes your way!

1. Know the basics

Maths is one of those subjects that actually builds from year to year, and those simple algebra skills you learnt in year 9 do come back to haunt you even in your final exams. This is why it’s important to make sure you know the basics before you start trying to learn the harder content. Even though some easier content may not be directly assessable in your exams, you learn it because that knowledge often provides a solid base understanding of more difficult, assessable content.

For example, you can’t do simultaneous equations if you don’t understand a simple 5y+2=12 equation.

So before you tackle the harder questions, make sure you can answer the easier questions comfortably.

2. Become familiar with all of the formulae

Regardless of whether a formula will be provided to you in an exam or not, it’s so important to know the formulae that you’ll be dealing with extremely well. Having it given to you in the exam is meaningless if you don’t know when and how to actually apply it. A great way to learn a formula is to write down the formula on one side of a square of paper. On the other side write down what all of the variables stand for and an example of how that formula can be used. Then, test yourself by reading each formula and try to recall as much information as you can about it!

3. Attempt past papers

Once you’re super familiar with all of the content, sit down and attempt a past paper. Try and mimic exam conditions as much as you can. So yes, that means setting yourself a timer, putting away all notes, laptops, Ipads, phones or any other resources you wouldn’t normally have in an exam. If you’re a little unsure how exactly to mimic exam conditions, we go through it in a little more detail here.

By doing past papers in exam conditions, it gives you an opportunity to practise answering questions under a little bit of pressure. It’s obviously not going to be as much pressure as the actual exam, but if you can re-create that feeling you can train your mind to work well under exam conditions rather than go blank as soon as you see the question. Trust us, it works!

4. Write 👏 down 👏 all 👏 of 👏 your 👏 working

Just write it down. Whatever you’re thinking, put it on the paper!

This tip comes up a lot but it’s so important because showing your working out is literally what will get you marks in an exam. Even if you end up getting the incorrect answer, in a 5 mark question that final result might only be worth 1 mark and the other 4 marks will come from your working out. Even if you get something wrong in your working, put a single line through it and start again. That way the marker can see your thought process on the page and they might even give you marks for it. So, even if something seems super obvious to you – write it down!

5. Attempt multiple-choice questions as if they were short answer questions

So now you’re in the exam. First things first, when it comes to multiple-choice questions don’t rely on being able to guess the answer! Statistically speaking, you will probably get it wrong. The best way to attempt a multiple choice question is to first answer the question without looking at the available answers. Then, see if your answer is one of the options. If it’s not, you know you went wrong somewhere along the way and it’s probably worth attempting the question again. Doing this means you won’t be tempted to choose an answer that looks deceptively correct but is actually there to trick you!


Studying for Maths comes down to practice, practice, practice. Memorising the textbook won’t be much help if you don’t know how to apply the techniques and formulae to a real exam question, so spend less time on Maths notes and more time on past papers. That’s where you will really make a difference in your results. Good luck!

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