If you’re aiming to excel in Maths Methods and maximise your ATAR, you’re not alone. Maths Methods is a challenging subject, but with the right strategies, you can achieve excellent results. This guide will walk you through the essential tips and techniques for mastering Maths Methods, from understanding the key concepts to developing effective study habits.
Table of Contents
Your Guide to Scoring 90+ in Maths Methods
Achieving a high score in Maths Methods requires a strong understanding of the syllabus and the ability to apply mathematical concepts effectively.
To help you score a 90+ in your upcoming external exam for Mathematical Methods, we've created a detailed knowledge and skill checklist based on the Unit 3 and 4 syllabus for Year 12. Use this checklist to ensure you’re covering all the critical areas required to succeed.
For Year 11 and 12 students, we recommend downloading and printing out the QCE Mathematical Methods checklist we've compiled below. Use this as a study guide to make sure that you've covered all of the knowledge and skills you need for your internal and external exams.
QCAA Maths Methods Unit 3 Exam Checklist
QCAA Maths Methods Unit 4 Exam Checklist
Top 4 Study Techniques for Scoring Well in Maths Methods
To do well in Maths Methods, it’s crucial to adopt effective study techniques. Here are some strategies that can help you master the content and perform well in your exams:
TIP 1 | Understand the Concepts: Instead of just memorising formulas, focus on understanding the underlying concepts. This deep understanding will allow you to apply your knowledge to new and unfamiliar problems. Make sure you can explain why a particular formula works and when to use it HINT: Keywords like 'maximum' relate to stationary points and the first derivative) |
TIP 2 | Consistent Practice: Regular practice is key to mastering Maths Methods. Work through a variety of problems daily to reinforce your understanding of different concepts. This practice will help you become familiar with the types of questions you’ll encounter in exams and develop the ability to solve them efficiently. |
TIP 3 | Use Past Papers: Practising past exam papers is one of the most effective ways to prepare for your Maths Methods exams. It helps you get used to the format and timing of the exams and identifies areas where you need to improve. Make sure to review the solutions to understand any mistakes you make. QCE Maths Methods Past Papers (2020-2023) |
TIP 4 | Seek Help When Needed: If you’re struggling with a particular topic, don’t hesitate to seek help. Whether it’s from your teacher, a tutor, or online resources, getting the support you need can make a big difference in your understanding and confidence. |
If you're looking for a Year 12 Maths Methods tutor, book in a free 1-hour online trial session with one of our tutors and we'll help target the learning areas you need the most help in.
Challenging Topics in Units 3 & 4 Maths Methods and How to Master Them
Algebra
Algebra will be the basis of many topics in QCE Maths Methods.
Practice simplifying complex expressions, working with negative numbers, substituting variables into equals and solving equations.
Mastering the four operations is extremely helpful (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
Calculus
Calculus is a core component of Maths Methods, and it can be challenging due to its abstract nature. To master calculus, focus on understanding the fundamental principles and practising a wide range of problems. Visualising problems, such as sketching graphs, can also help you grasp the concepts better.
Understand what is meant by the 'rate of change' and what is happening when it is positive, negative and zero
Think of fun and easy ways to remember important information (see below)
When the first derivative f'(x) < 0, it is negative and SAD ☹️ = Maximum When the first derivative f'(x) > 0, it is positive and HAPPY 😊 = Minimum Note the curvature of the functions (sad versus happy)
Probability and Statistics
These topics require a strong understanding of probability distributions and statistical inference. To excel in these areas, make sure you’re comfortable with the different types of distributions and can apply them to various scenarios. Practice interpreting data and drawing conclusions based on your analysis.
Remember real-life scenarios to help you recall information about probability. For instance, tossing a coin is a common example of a binomial experiment. The probabilities remain the same, the trials are independent and there are only two possible outcomes - success or failure (depending on whether you've defined HEADS or TAILS as a success).
Map out complex concepts using a diagram and use simple terms to understand it. For example, confidence intervals can be thought of as 'buffers' around a sample proportion. We use a sample proportion to predict something about a population, often because the population is too large to conduct an experiment. Therefore, this sample proportion (p̂) is our best guess for the population and the confidence interval around it shows the area where the true population proportion might actually lie.
In a sample of 100 people who were asked if they own a dog, a sample proportion (p̂) of 0.55 shows that 55 people own a dog. If the margin of error is 5 for a 95% confidence interval, we can be 95% confident that for every 100 people we sample, 50 to 60 people will own a dog.
Common Questions Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Here are some frequent pitfalls and how to steer clear of them:
Skipping Steps: Many students lose marks by skipping steps in their working out. Always show all your steps clearly, as this not only ensures you’re on the right track but also allows you to pick up partial marks even if you make a mistake.
Misreading Questions: Carefully read each question to make sure you understand exactly what is being asked. Misreading a question can lead to incorrect answers, even if your calculations are correct.
Neglecting Units and Notation: Pay attention to units and notation, as errors in these can result in lost marks. Always double-check your final answers to ensure they are in the correct form and include appropriate units.
We recommend checking the number of marks allocated to each exam question. For simple 2-mark questions, writing out the correct formula and stating your approach often earns you a mark and arriving at the correct answer earns you another.
How to Exam Prep for Maths Methods
Regular exam practice is essential for achieving high marks because the question format and style is often different from what you're used to with textbooks and school homework.
Once you have worked through our Unit 3 & 4 content checklist, we recommend getting started on practice exam papers published by the QCAA.
Access past QCAA Mathematical Methods external exams for 2020-2023.
The R-I-P-S Method for Exam Questions
R - Read the question first
After reading the question below, note to yourself what information you have been provided. Don't worry, it's completely normal to feel overwhelmed with worded problems like these but keep moving through the RIPS method.
I - Identify the concept it links to
The question appears to link to functions and rates which will involve calculus (differentiation/integration).
P - Pick out keywords
Highlight keywords in the question to help you formulate an answer.
S - Solve the problem
The keywords highlighted in yellow show that we've been given the function A which represents an 'amount of chemical absorbed'. It's important here to identify whether this is an f(x), f'(x) or f"(x) function.
In this case, the function A is a position function - f(x).
Once you've determined this, we can see that they want us to find the maximum rate of change. This means that you have to solve for 't' when the rate of function (A') is at a maximum.
In other words, you will need to let the second derivative A" = 0 to find when the maximum of A' will occur.
The keywords highlighted in green signify the step you will need to take at the end to prove that the turning point of A' is in fact a maximum.
Since this question is technology-free, use the second derivative test to show that your stationary point for A' is a maximum.
Re-read the question and recognise that they want a 'time of day' (AM / PM) similar to the format given in the first sentence (10:00am)
From the question, t appears to be measured from 10:00am
Add your t value answer (when A' is at a maximum) to 10:00am to arrive at your final answer
We recommend working through the papers using the R-I-P-S method because it helps you strategically break down complex questions that are often quite wordy and complex.
Time Management Tips for External Exam Preparation
Effective time management is key to doing well in Maths Methods. Here are some tips to help you manage your time wisely:
Create a Study Schedule
Plan your study sessions in advance, allocating specific times to focus on different topics. Stick to your schedule and adjust it as needed based on your progress.
We recommend 1-2 hours of study and revision three to four days a week for the best results. Don't forget to go back to older topics to reinforce your knowledge and understanding of the skills you need to master!
Prioritise Difficult Topics
Spend more time on topics you find challenging, but don’t neglect the areas where you’re already strong. Regularly review all topics to ensure your knowledge is well-rounded.
Take Regular Breaks
Avoid burnout by taking regular breaks during study sessions. Short, frequent breaks can help you stay focused and retain information better.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good score for Maths Methods?
A good score for QCE Maths Methods is typically considered to be 90+ or an A-grade. This level of achievement can significantly boost your ATAR and open up opportunities for competitive university courses.
How to get better at Maths Methods?
To get better at Maths Methods, practice regularly, focus on understanding the concepts rather than just memorising formulas, and seek help when needed. Using past papers, working with a tutor, and staying consistent with your study schedule can also help improve your performance.
Is Year 11 Maths Methods hard?
Year 11 Methods can be challenging as it introduces foundational concepts in algebra, functions, calculus, and probability. However, with consistent effort and a strong study routine, you can manage the workload and build a solid foundation for Year 12.
Is Year 12 Maths Methods hard?
Year 12 Maths Methods is often considered more difficult than Year 11, as it delves deeper into advanced topics like calculus and statistical analysis. The increased complexity and the pressure of final exams can make it challenging, but with effective study strategies and regular practice, it is manageable.
How to pass the Methods exam?
To pass the internal and external exams in QCE Maths Methods, focus on mastering key concepts, practice regularly with past papers and ensure you understand the exam format. Time management during the exam, showing all working steps, and reviewing any errors in practice exams are crucial strategies for success.