- Draw up a revision timetable
- Get a copy of the syllabus well in advance of the exams
- Don’t get behind in Maths classes at school
- Discover which topics you find difficult
- Understand the process
- Complete past papers
- Look up the exam board website
- Don’t try and cram
- Work on your speed
- Form a study group with fellow Maths students
We've compiled our top revision tips for students who are preparing for their A level maths exams.
Draw up a revision timetable
Studies have shown that we concentrate best for periods of 20 to 30 minutes, so take short, frequent breaks. Mix up the order of your subjects, so that throughout the day you cover each topic at least two or three times, at different times of the day.
Get a copy of the syllabus well in advance of the exams
Divide it up into 10 – 20 sections. Aim to work on at least 5 sections every week. There will be a lot to cover in your A-Level Maths revision, and this careful plotting of topics will mean you won’t miss out any.
Don’t get behind in Maths classes at school
Revision is important, but you need to have understood the concepts in class to begin with. If you miss a lesson through illness, try and catch up as soon as you can. If you realise your basic understanding of a topic is shaky, ask your teacher to go through it with you – this is much easier than trying to fix it yourself at revision time!
Discover which topics you find difficult
Don’t ignore something you don’t understand! Start with these topics and complete as many examples as you can, then find more examples to test yourself with. If you find something difficult, then you’re going to need more time to improve in it – don’t leave these topics too late!
Understand the process
Don’t just learn and apply formulae parrot-style. Try to understand the reasons behind the creation of the formula. Maths is a creative subject, and true understanding will enable you to tackle any problem. You will not get very far if you think you need to memorise, say, 18 different formulae relating to trigonometric identities – you will do much better if you simply understand how they are all interrelated.
Complete past papers
Once you’ve finished working through the syllabus, start practising past papers. Start off with no time limit, and allow yourself to use your textbook or revision notes. After a few like this, start doing them to time, to imitate the pressure of the real exam. When you mark your paper, any weaknesses in your knowledge will become clear. Try to understand where and why you made mistakes, so you are able to go back to the original topic and revise more effectively.
Look up the exam board website
Here you will be able to get hold of specimen and past papers. Some boards even produce their own revision guides. You can also look up the Examiners’ Report for past exams, which will highlight common mistakes that students have made. Look at these topics in particular to make sure you don’t make the same errors!
Don’t try and cram
A level Maths is a ‘doing’ subject, and success in Maths exams will only be achieved through practise over a long period of time.
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Work on your speed
Once you feel confident in the theory, and have completed a number of past papers, begin to work on completing problems faster. If you are able to work quickly, checking effectively, then you are more likely to achieve a high mark. Careless mistakes caused by time pressure are the enemy of success.
Form a study group with fellow Maths students
Sometimes many heads are better than one, and if you don’t understand a concept, chances are someone else in the group might be able to help you. You will also increase your own skill and understanding by explaining to others how to do something.
If you are looking to study maths as an adult then this post is for you!