How to get a 7 in SL Math!

As a person who struggled with mathematics, I understand that getting a 7 in SL Math can be daunting. However, keep in mind that once you conquer some of math’s challenges, the marks are actually really easy to get, simply because mathematics is black and white. If you get the working and the answer correct, they HAVE TO give you the marks! Here are my 5 tips on getting a 7 in SL Math:

  1. Fully understand the concept. For example, learning to differentiate is relatively simple, because after a while, the processes become quite obvious and you could essentially rote learn them. But, in an exam, if they ask you to apply differentiation by finding the equation of a tangent, you need to know more than just how to differentiate. You must understand that the differentiate is in fact the gradient at point (x,y), and then understand how to sub this into y=mx+b to find the equation. Memorising processes often comes unstuck, especially when they throw you a question from a slightly different angle. You’ll know if you understand a concept if you can teach it to somebody else. If you have nobody to teach it to, explain it out loud to yourself and see if you really really understand it.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. Do heaps and heaps of questions from your textbook, from other textbooks, question banks, basically everywhere and anywhere you can find them. Try to expose yourself to a wide variety of questions, especially on topics that you struggle with. Repeating the same type of questions gets you nowhere, because if they hit you with something different in the exam you’re stuck!
  3. Don’t waste time doing questions that are easy. Pick and choose questions from the textbook that are appropriate to your ability. Do less of the easy questions and more of the ones you find difficult. Try and improve your problem solving skills by first trying to work through the ones you don’t understand by yourself, and only ask your teacher if you are really lost.
  4. Learn to use your graphics calculator. The paper 2 can be a killer if you can’t do this step! Learn the nuts and bolts of how to use your calculator, its functions, and know how to do all the operations, change the settings etc. Again, try to understand what every function is doing and representing, especially in the graphing and probability areas! Also be aware of simple things like changing between radians and degrees- they can cost you easy marks!
  5. Do past papers under timed conditions. This is essential because you want to manage your time well enough to have time left at the end to check everything! Practicing exam technique is especially important in math, because it is so easy to spend too much time doing a question and run out of time! Furthermore, it is important to learn to stay calm and not freak out when you see a question you don’t understand but to learn how to calmly work through it. I would recommend starting past papers roughly 3 months before exams. By this time you will have finished your course (hopefully!) and you’ll understand each concept well enough to tackle a full paper. This also gives you time to go back to concepts you don’t fully get as you come across them.
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