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Core methodologies for revising maths at home

Sunday, 22nd March, 2020 12:01pm
Core methodologies for revising maths at home

The more ‘exam ready’ you are, the better you will perform on the day.

Core methodologies for revising maths at home

The more ‘exam ready’ you are, the better you will perform on the day.

In light of the current health threat and for the first time in a long while, students (and indeed their parents) need to examine more closely the home routine and how to maximise this time to enhance learning. Maths is one of the subjects that tends to take up more time than others and hence Third and Sixth Years should use these circumstances to consolidate what they know and spend time on past exam questions and the language of the subject.

From this point of view, I would recommend that all exam students begin creating a ‘Maths hardback’; filling it with new words, formulae’s not occurring in the log tables and keynotes. Divide the hardback into fifteen-page sections per sub-topic. Secondly, being at home full time is a good opportunity to test yourself against the clock on full or partial past exam questions. I would now set these as your two main Maths targets to aim for prior to returning to school.

Algebra is the Language of Maths

In Junior and Leaving Cert Maths, you must have a good solid Algebra foundation to build on in order to be able to attempt topics such as Geometry, Trigonometry and Probability. You need to take time to understand all the rules of Algebra including those linked to expressions, functions, and graphs. Algebra is the most important topic in Maths. The words and phrases that appear on the course and in your past exam papers are equally as critical. The State Exams Commission (SEC) now place more emphasis on students knowing and understanding what things mean in Maths, than just being able to do numerical calculations. I estimate that Algebra alone makes up over twenty percent of the exam papers at Junior Cycle level.

There are more words than ever on the Junior and Leaving Cert Maths exam papers, and it is crucial that you start familiarising yourself with them. If you are not familiar with the words and phrases that appear on the paper, you may not even be able to get a question started. This would be an awful shame given the amount of time you have spent learning mathematical concepts on your course. If you have dyslexia, I understand that dealing with words in Maths is doubly difficult. You need to be aware that different words have a different meaning, depending on the subject you are studying. For example, the word ‘Evaluate’ in Maths is very different to its meaning in the subject English.

In my book ‘How to ACE the Leaving Certificate’, there is a full chapter advising how to improve your Maths. In this chapter, I present and explain one hundred sample key words and phrases to kick start your understanding of the language of Maths. This list is suitable for both Junior and Senior Cycle, remembering that some of the more difficult words would not appear on a Junior Cycle paper. I would encourage you to use and add to this list, investigating the exact meaning of ‘Maths’ words you come

across; you will learn loads through your own investigations, thereby learning by doing. I suggest every time you encounter a new Maths word or formula that you write down what it means to you in an A5/A6 hardback. This idea can be applied to all subjects and these hardbacks can be carried with you (literally) all the way up to sixth year. Using simple explanations that you understand in your hardbacks will help you recall what the words mean later. Being familiar with the words that appear on a Maths exam paper has now become a key component of success in the subject.

Test yourself at home in Maths

The more ‘exam ready’ you are, the better you will perform on the day. I have seen the best students do their homework to perfection and really know their stuff but ultimately not reach their potential In Maths come June. Every year loads of super students misjudge the timing on the paper. With no choice on any of our Maths papers now, it is imperative that you stick exactly to the allocated time for each question part, for example you have twenty-five minutes to do a fifty marker (always divide by two).

You should now start timing yourself on past exam questions at home. At Leaving Cert level, the six short questions on each paper always carry twenty-five marks and so some of these are a good place to start. Attempt questions that look familiar first, maybe even consulting your book/notes from time to time. It’s all learning. Once completed, check your workings out against a good exam paper solutions book. If you have struggled to make reasonable inroads into answering, I suggest you re-write the steps of the full solution on a page, really thinking about why each step is present as you write it.

The advantages to creating a little test environment at home is that when it comes to the big day, the clock will be a key element of completing each question efficiently. I would even go as far as having a stopwatch with me at home for practice and then bringing it to the exam hall, as you are not going to have your phone with you. In creating this little bit of pressure at home, you are replicating the exam hall environment. Train as you propose to play is the idea here.

I will be conducting Online Maths classes (via the comfort of your own home) from now on for Third and Sixth Years. Get in touch with me If I can help you in any way. Stay safe during these uncertain times. Joe


Further Details

More details about how to purchase ‘How to ACE the Leaving Certificate’ for all subjects and Joe’s ever popular ‘ACE Maths Solution Books’ for the Junior and Leaving Certificate are on his Facebook page and website Pick up your copy today!

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