• Christian Paul

5 things Methods students absolutely MUST have nailed before exams

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

With exams fast approaching, everyone is buckling down to get as ready as they can for exams.

Stress levels are at an all-time high. But you already know this. You’re living it.

Sorry about that.

But sometimes it’s hard to know what to focus on. Maths Methods, in particular, is tricky. There is just SO MUCH TO REMEMBER.

So here is a list of five things to get you started. This is not a list of everything you need. But I can guarantee you that, without these things under your belt, the exam will be much more painful than it would be if you can nail these.

If you need a list for Further Maths instead, try here

1. Exact Values from Circular Functions

These are a crowd favourite in exams. They are very likely to pop up in AT LEAST two of the ten short answer questions. Usually, once as a standalone question, and another in a question that involves differentiation or integration with values substituted in.

In the VCE Methods 2015 Exam 1, 7 out of the 40 available marks relied on exact values. (17.5%)

2. Index and Log laws

Another popular question, index and log laws make simplifying a wide range of questions that much easier. It’s going to be hard to nail quite a few of the questions in both the short answer and multiple choice sections without being able to master these essentials.

In the VCE Methods 2015 Exam 1, 8 out of the 40 available marks relied on exact values. (20%)

3. How to recognise different probability types

Most students don’t struggle with performing calculations on probability. What they do struggle with is deciding which distribution is right for the question. Making sure you have the right method before you start can save you time, energy, and a little bit of your sanity (or what’s left of it)

In the VCE Methods 2015 Exam 1, 7 out of the 40 available marks relied on recognising the type of probability (17.5%)

4. Finding a stationary point

This could be used in the context of a graphing question, or in the context of a problem that involved finding a minimum or maximum. These questions pop up almost religiously in the last question of Exam 1, and frequently in a problem-solving context within Exam 2.

In the 5 years prior to writing, there were at least 15 occurences of questions involving finding a stationary point in VCE Methods exams.

5. Recognising and solving quadratics

I know it seems a bit old school, but quadratics are one of those topics that will hold you up if you don’t have a grip on them. They don’t pop up as an actual topic, but being able to solve them is a heavily relied upon problem-solving technique in exams.

Just make sure you can nail the basic techniques, and that you can recognise them in the context of a question. Sooner or later they will pop up.

Bonus: Make sure you can use the CAS properly

Click here for 15 tips to making the CAS calculator a little easier to use!

It’s a start

These things won’t magically fix all your exam concerns, but they will take the edge off a little. What do you think? Is there anything else you think NEEDS to be on this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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