Maths Questions

To answer an exam question well, you first need to figure out what you have been asked to do. With written answers this can be complicated, although recognising command words can help a lot. For mathematical questions, the idea is a lot simpler. You need to find a numerical answer.

There’s a reason you have a set method to follow for mathematical questions. It works. Now, it’s quite possible that you can do some of the steps in your head, but writing down what you’re doing has two purposes, both worthwhile:

  • it makes it easier to avoid mistakes
  • it means the examiner can give partial credit (working marks) for a wrong answer

Of course, this applies in lessons too, with the added bonus that seeing where a mistake is made means your teacher – or perhaps you or a friend – can figure out how not to make it next time. If you have problems with mathematical questions, keep a copy of the checklist above (pdf available by clicking on the thumbnail) handy where you do your work. Follow the steps, writing down whatever you’re doing. If you have trouble with a particular step, look for worked examples or ask for help. Over time, you’ll find you’ve internalised the process, and should aim to recall the equations rather than looking them up. By then, you’ll be getting most or all of the exam marks.

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