Ah, maths methods. The bane of all the List B subjects in WACE. It’s detailed, fast-paced and challenging.
Methods in year 12 takes much the same approach as the second semester of methods in year 11. A good way to divide the year broadly is into (1) calculus and (2) statistics. I know those are two words no one wants to hear but well, hear me out.
Calculus in year 12 is infinitely more interesting than in year 11. You cover way more equations and techniques and mastering the basics of these equations early is the key to succeeding in methods. You also get introduced to calculus with trigonometry and exponents, which in and of itself is a satisfying challenge.
Statistics in year 12 however can best be described as different. It’s not very mathematical-based, and is more about explanation and theory. It can be daunting initially but with the correct preparation, it should be very attainable.
But what is this correct preparation? Well, that changes for everyone but there are still a few general tips for methods.
Tips/Tricks for Subject
1. Stay on top of things
Ok maths methods can be quite overwhelming if you let the work pile up, especially in the second semester. So it’s crucial that you stay on top of things. You need to be reviewing work weekly, maybe even daily, and practicing throughout the year as a whole. To do this you should be looking through past papers, textbooks, and study guides. There’s really not much more to say, you should be practicing methods every day even if it's only for half an hour.
2. Learn ClassPad shortcuts and eActivities
The ClassPad is the single most important tool you will use during your high school maths journey. However, it is also, unfortunately, one of the biggest causes of time-wasting during exams. You must navigate menus, flick through dozens of unwanted equations, and input multiple different variables and numbers. All these things take time, precious time, that you could have spent on trying to solve that 8-mark question that always seems to be at the end of the exam.
So, what do you do to reduce the time you take?
Well…a couple of things.
You need to get familiar with shift keys and eActivities. Shift keys are essentially keyboard shortcuts on the ClassPad. They remove the time spent on navigating menus. There are a few essential shift keys you need to set up as well.
I would personally recommend the trigonometric functions (sin, cos, tan) as well as their inverses (sin-1, cos-1, tan-1). 𝝿 and e are also musts. It also helps to have a “given that” symbol (looks like “|” ) and a “solve(” function.
eActivities on the other hand are programs run on ClassPad. They are especially helpful in the latter part of the unit with probability and statistics. For these, I recommend finding someone with eActivities and begging them to give you the eActivities. They save a ton of time and help enormously with solving difficult questions from the statistics stuff within the time limit.
3. Practice, practice, practice
Practice, practice, practice. This is absolutely crucial to succeeding in methods. The theory in maths methods is very surface level. It does not take too long to learn the formulas. However, the formulas are useless if you don’t apply them to questions.
With methods, mastering the basics is essential and requires a lot of practice. So it’s important that you, well, practice. Study guides are amazing and I will get to why soon, but past papers are also essential as they give you the best practice of the actual assessments you will get.
So here is a recommended study method for maths methods.
- When you learn a topic in class, go over the chapter in whichever book you use at school (be it Sadler, Nelson, etc) and complete at least 50-60% of the questions
- Go to a supplementary book that is a little harder and more test-focused next and try and complete the trickier questions on that book. This will give you a better overall understanding of the topic. A good example would be the OT Lee textbooks.
- Go over past papers from your school in preparation for tests. Do at least one of these under timed conditions to give yourself an idea of how you would handle time
- Use study guides, past exams, and past WACE papers to focus on your mocks and the WACE exam.
4. Look through worked solutions
However, just going over these questions is not enough, because you need to be correcting any mistakes you have. To do that, you need to go over worked solutions.
Also, worked solutions help you figure out what the marking scheme is, so it makes it very easy for you to know what markers look for and how you should be structuring your working out.
Sometimes if you are lucky teachers have a copy of worked solutions to general textbooks. If they don’t that’s okay. Your past practice papers will always come attached to a set of worked solutions and the WACE past papers and practice solutions can be downloaded from SCSA. These two things should be your reference guide for how to structure your response. Sometimes you might get the answer correct but may have missed a step meaning you would not have gotten maximum marks.
5. Use study guides effectively
And that brings us to the saviour of methods in year 12. The almighty study guide. Study guides are an effective tool once you know how to use them. There are a lot of questions, a lot of worked solutions and plenty of explanations. But what are some ways to use study guides and what are some things that you definitely don’t want to do?
Study guides ARE NOT learning tools. They ARE specifically made for revision. They ARE meant to be used in the lead-up to mocks and end-of-year exams. They ARE NOT meant to be a one-stop-shop for learning the content.
I recommend doing a few questions here and there in the lead-up to the mock exams at the end of school. That’s when you will get maximum use out of them. Try and attempt all the questions you can attempt. It’s really all the revision you need to do for those. And definitely check out the worked solutions for structuring. I really cannot emphasise how helpful a study guide like “OT LEE” is.
But above all else, enjoy Methods. It may be tough, but it can be rewarding if you choose to see the good side of it. And hey worst case, it will only be for a year.
Written by KIS Academics Tutor for WACE Mathematics Methods, Isira Parahitiyawa. Isira is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at Curtin University and has received stellar reviews from his past KIS Academics students. You can view Isira’s profile here and request him as a tutor. Alternatively, you can find other KIS tutors for Mathematics Methods here.