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An Introduction to Extension 1 Mathematics – What It Is and How to Best Prepare

So you’ve decided you love maths (or at least do pretty well in it) and you’d like to take on extension 1 maths for your HSC. What should you be doing in the final stretch before you sit your exam?

After having what I’m sure was one of the most stressful years to be sitting the HSC, much more so than last year when I graduated (which to be honest I didn’t think could happen), and having your test currently pushed back to Friday the 19th of November, I’m sure we’d all love relief from all the stress and uncertainty and get some useful tips and advice from someone who’s done the course before.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to aim to do! In this series of articles, I’m going to give you some insights into the structure of the course and break it down in a way that’ll best aid your learning and revision in the weeks leading up to the HSC. So let’s dive right into it!

As it says on the NESA website, mathematics ext. 1 “is a calculus based course intended for students who have demonstrated a mastery of the skills of Stage 5 Mathematics and are interested in the study of further skills and ideas in mathematics.” (Here is a link to the page that contains some useful resources broken down by topic:

ATHS So how do I study/improve?

Glad you asked! That’s exactly what I’ll be covering in the next few blogs, along with topic rundowns, useful tips and tricks and helpful advice on what I did and what I wish I’d done differently.

If there’s one thing I can recommend (and I’m sure you’ve heard this constantly) it’s DO PAST PAPERS!!! Seriously, there’s no better way to improve, or even revise, mathematics than doing questions, questions and more questions. You can never do too much!

Unfortunately, the new ext. 1 course was only introduced last year so there’s really only one past paper for this course. However, the great thing about maths is that it’s not new! Several of the harder topics have been moved to the ext. 2 course and old topics have a few changes, nothing that can’t be found with a simple search (e.g. pigeonhole principle) or by rummaging through the NESA resources. So what’s the final verdict? Continue using the old papers! (just skip any questions you haven’t learnt). For the new topics such as vectors, graphing, differential equations and stats, these are some of the questions I’ll be working through in video tutorials. Don’t forget to check back for more!


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