Have you considered getting a head start on Year 12 by accelerating Maths? In this article, current Year 12 Matrix student, Angela Park, shares her experiences of taking an accelerated class and gives her best study tips that allowed her to succeed in Maths.
Me, myself and I
Sydney Girls High School
Advantages of Year 11 accelerated Maths
Getting a first-hand taste of an HSC course in my preliminary year has allowed me to:
- Closely develop my skills in the subject:
Starting earlier means that I have time to master the challenging questions. I get more practise with a wider range of questions and learn the tips and tricks to tackle these in the exam.
- Get a head start over my peers:
Now that I’m in Year 12, I’ve already figured out the best exam taking and preparation strategies for me. I knew that my marks weren’t counting towards my ATAR in Year 11, so..
I treated the course as a trial run.
I was able to identify useful strategies and not-so-useful ones, and by the end of Year 11, I had a perfect personal preparation and exam sitting strategy for my actual HSC year.
- Optimise my HSC performance:
I gained valuable insights in Year 11 that will help me improve my performance in Year 12, insights that would have been too late if realised in my HSC year.
Although I found the accelerated course beneficial, there was one major disadvantage:
I suffered from a lot of stress due to the competitiveness of my class. In the first year of Accelerated Maths, I remember that I was particularly unprepared for this amount of stress.
I wasn’t just competing with my class, I was also competing with the grade above mine.
My self-esteem plummeted. I was consistently receiving results that ranged from 60 to 70%. It was then when I realised that my study habits were the problem. I simply had no guidance on what to study or how to study for my exams.
So, I changed my habits. Once I did this, my marks began to shoot up!
Let me explain what I did.
Mathematics study and exam tips
After implementing the following study habits, I began seeing major improvements in my marks. These tips may or may not work for you! Keep in mind that everyone is different.
Step 1 – Know yourself as a learner
Take the time to see what kind of learner you are. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses and figure out which strategies work and which ones don’t.
Different people will require different amounts of time and different ways to prepare for an exam.
So, take your time!
Just because your friend spent two weeks making beautiful and meticulous Maths notes, this does not mean you should as well.
You need to ask yourself what you are most struggling with. Not understanding key concepts? Making silly errors? Unable to manage time under test conditions?
Use your strengths and weaknesses to plan your preparation approach accordingly!
For example, I personally struggled with applying concepts to questions set in a foreign format. So, before each exam, I made sure that I dedicated a big part of my study time to completing as many past papers as possible.
This ensured that I expose myself to a broad scope of possible types of questions!
Step 2 – Use your teacher
Your teacher is important!
I found that by absorbing what my teacher was saying in class and writing it down, I was able to retain the key ideas and concepts. I wrote a lot; seemingly insignificant tips, common mistakes by past students, alternative methods, and so on.
It might seem overly pedantic but you can’t predict what the obscure questions that might unexpectedly show up in a test!
Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Your teacher is there to help you! Personally, I was extremely fortunate to have a highly knowledgeable, empathetic and passionate Maths teacher.
However, not everyone is that lucky.
If this is the case, then you can always search for topic-specific explanations on YouTube. It is also a great way to get a concept down packed.
Step 3 – Practise Past Papers
There’s a reason why everyone goes on and on about the importance of practice papers!
Past papers help maximise accuracy, time-efficiency, and self-confidence.
However, simply dawdling through a paper without checking the solutions will NOT help you. From experience, I’ve found that practice papers are most helpful when completed with the following essentials:
- Complete it under timed conditions
- Mark your answers as soon as you finish
- Re-attempt difficult questions
Also, when working on past papers online, there is another method that made all the difference to me.
I screenshotted challenging questions and named them after the errors I made.
Through this system, I was able to focus on my weaker areas and ensure that I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
This way, I could see a quick “heatmap” of my most common mistakes, pointing out my weaknesses. After building a nice and sizeable collection of these questions, I worked through them over and over again.
This was immensely helpful as it filled gaping holes in my knowledge and soon after I was breezing over these questions.
My advice to Year 11 students wanting to get a head start on Year 12 by accelerating Maths
Whether or not you decide to take an accelerated class, the main point is that you need to find the right study habits whilst your load is less burdensome. Then, extend these habits to your other subjects, and carry them into your HSC year to achieve the best possible marks.
Although Accelerated Maths was initially quite challenging, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else. It will help you build stamina and self-discipline.
Finally, make sure you enjoy yourself and cherish your time in the class! My experience of this course would be nowhere near as legendary as it is, if it wasn’t for the constant, loving support of my fellow accelerated peers.