How to Ace QCE Maths Methods

Whether you are currently studying, or planning to study senior maths methods in Queensland, you’ve come to the right place to know all about this subject, including some of my personal tips and tricks to help you get the best results possible.

2 years ago   •   4 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Dan-Cristian Pădureț / Unsplash

Whether you are currently studying, or planning to study senior maths methods
in Queensland, you’ve come to the right place to know all about this subject,
including some of my personal tips and tricks to help you get the best results

Basics of Maths Methods

I’m not going to try to sugarcoat this. Maths methods is not an easy subject.
However it’s definitely a mountain that everyone can conquer. So let’s first break
down this subject to see what kind of hurdle we are dealing with. Like all other
subjects, maths methods has 4 units, Unit 1 and 2 which are done in Year 11,
and Unit 3 and 4 which are done in Year 12. Now, although ATAR only counts
your results in Unit 3/4, it does NOT mean you get to slack in Unit 1/2. Unlike
some subjects, Unit 3/4 in maths methods is heavily dependent on content in
Unit 1/2, and if you don’t know the foundations of Unit 1/2, you won’t be able to
put your best foot forward for Unit 3/4. If you’re currently studying Year 12
methods and struggled in Year 11 methods, I’d recommend you go back and
understand Unit 1 and 2 content first (especially sketching functions, solving trig,
and derivatives), before proceeding to study Unit 3/4.

Maths Methods Assessments

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about how maths methods is
assessed for ATAR. Out of 100 possible marks in Year 12, 20 is allocated to the
PSMT, 15 for each of the Unit 3 and Unit 4 internal exams, and 50 marks for the
external exam, which covers both Unit 3 and 4 content. The exams are
structured so that 60% of marks comes from simple familiar (SF) questions, 20%
from complex familiar (CF) questions, and 20% from complex unfamiliar
questions (CU) questions. So don’t worry, as long as you fully understand the
familiar bread and butter of the content, you should get at least ~80% on an

For most people, the externals are the most dreadful part of Year 12, which is
why you want to maximise the amount of marks you get for your internals. This
means for the PSMT, getting started early, following the ISMG, and constantly
asking for feedback. And for exams, it means listening in class, and utilising a
variety of exam preparation strategies (cramming is not one of them!). Bonus
tip- if you’re struggling on a question on an exam, write down everything you can
that’s relevant to the question, including formulas, variables and any equations.
This allows you to possibly snag a couple of marks, depending on the marking
criteria for that question.

Some Extra Maths Methods Tips

1: Learn actively
What comes to mind when I say the word ‘revise?’ Most people would think of
reading their notes or revisiting slides to retain information. Well you might be
shocked to hear that those are highly ineffective strategies, as they’re ‘passive learning’ strategies, where the learner simply tries to absorb information. You
might ask, isn’t that what we are supposed to do to prep for exams? No, because
passive learning doesn’t allow you to critically think about the content, ie know
why you’re doing what you’re doing, and make connections to other content. So
passive learning may be ok for SF questions, but won’t do for higher level CF and
CU questions. It’s like trying to learn how to cook by watching videos but never
actually cooking yourself. Doesn’t really make sense does it? To critically think
about what you learnt, and answer harder questions on the exam, you need to
learn actively, where you actively engage with the content by practising hard
questions, doing brain dumps, teaching concepts to a friend etc. Yes, active
learning is harder and takes more brain power, but if you want to study
efficiently and get those top tier grades, that’s the way to go.

2: Consistency is key
Imagine this. You don’t normally go to the gym, but one day, you have a sudden
urge to get into shape, so you spend a whole day furiously working out. Will you
wake up the next day, look in the mirror and see yourself looking like Arnold
Schwarzenegger? Absolutely not. In fact, you’ll notice that nothing has changed,
other than your body aching all over. Not very effective, right? That’s exactly
what happens when students cram. You might be able to revise content in an all-
nighter, but almost none of it stick because your brain simply can’t handle that
much information at once. You need to consistently revise content every week if
you want to be able to remember stuff during the exam. It doesn’t matter if you
revise 1 or 10 hours of methods every week, you just need to be able to do it
consistently, no matter how many other assignments you have, because a little
every week adds up to a lot in the end.

3: Reflect on your learning
To make the most of your study sessions, you should reflect on which style of
learning suits you. For example if you identify yourself as a visual learner, then
use mindmaps and pictures to help you understand concepts, whereas if you
think teaching someone else boosts your own learning by a lot, then go for that
strategy. The only thing to watch out for is not to make your learning too easy. If
you find yourself not needing much effort in your study sessions, then you’re
probably not using the best strategy, as you’re either revising something you’d
already mastered, or you’re learning passively. You should also monitor your
progress in different topics in order to work out which ones you really need to
work on. Sometimes it’s hard to know off the bat which topics you are not the
best in, so it’s really helpful to do things like sorting practise exam questions by
individual topics, and seeing which topics you did worse, then prioritising those
in your study.

To finish off...

You might’ve been able to get A’s in maths in lower year levels with barely any
effort, but sorry to break it to you, that’s not going to work for senior maths
methods. As mentioned above, to do well in maths methods, you need to be
constantly reflecting on your learning, modifying your study plan, and
consistently studying actively. Best of luck with your studies!

Written by KIS Academics Tutor for QCE Maths Methods, Jacob Hu. Jacob is
currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering/Master of Engineering at UQ and
has three years of experience tutoring. You can view Jacob’s profile here and
request him as a tutor.

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