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  • Helen

Exam Preparation Week 1

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Walking into your Methods Exam 2, you will be allowed one bound reference (the cheat sheet book), a CAS/Casio calculator and some other basic stationery (pens, pencils, rulers, etc). When I was in year 12, I wanted to maximise all my chances of getting a good score and it’s the cheat sheet book that brought my VCE game to a new level.

In this post we are going to cover several points regarding the cheat sheet:

  1. The benefits of making/having a cheat sheet book.

  2. What I included in my cheat sheet book.

  3. What to be mindful of when making a cheat sheet book.

There will be pictures of my year 12 Specialist Maths notes for your reference. (unfortunately I’ve managed to lose my Methods cheat sheet book after moving out)


I remember seeing a lot of my friends going into their second Methods exam carrying an incredibly BIG and HEAVY Maths Methods textbook. I personally didn’t think how having a textbook as my bound reference could help me since it’s more than 1000-page long with tiny words and my trembling nervous hands in the exams wouldn’t have done so well with flipping between those thin pages. So I made my own cheat sheet.

I am a big fan of repetitive revision, meaning constantly revising and consolidating. And I found making a cheat sheet book helped me to do just what I wanted! By revisiting the chapters in the textbook, copying down formulas and important concepts many times, I memorised the various formulas and even took the opportunity to teach myself the chapter again for the second time as I was writing.

Additionally, it was all about personalising the work and making the game yours! Going into an exam with a personally made cheat sheet, I was no longer anxious thinking about the various formulas I had to remember, a challenging question that I only encountered once but forgot or some detrimental mistakes that I always made doing Methods questions.

As we go into the “how” question, the benefits of making your own cheat sheet book will become even more clear.

How did I make my cheat sheet?

After every chapter we covered in class, I would take 3 or 4 evenings (one hour each) to build my cheat sheet. I did this by:

  • Revisiting the chapter, going through important concepts and formulas and copying them down into my cheat sheet

  • Looking over textbook and Checkpoint questions for highlighted ones (aka hard/weird questions) and put them into my cheat sheet.

  • Inserting and highlighting CAS equations/instructions

  • Finally, the one thing that year-12 Helen did that I am most grateful for - personalised tips. With each topic there were 1 or 2 personally very challenging/important/make-or-break points that I had discovered and I made sure to include it in my cheat sheet highlighted or with the page folded (folding? We’ll go through that very soon).

Now after reading this there is a slightest chance that you might be worried about how your cheat sheet is still an empty book. Don’t fret! There is no better time to start anything except for now. If you are starting on your cheat sheet now, I do recommend that you don’t be as meticulous and detailed as I was but still make sure you have important formula and several hard questions in your cheat sheet.

What to be mindful of while making the cheat sheet?

You can find the full description of what to do and what not to do here so I am only going to tell you what I did to:

  • Take advantage of what I was allowed to do with my cheat sheet

  • Best comply to the exam rules

One important point that my teacher kept reminding us was “make sure your pages don’t fall out!” So if you’re making your own cheat sheet book, “make sure your pages don’t fall out!”

For the cheat sheet book, we are allowed to annotate the material, design our own index, fold pages, cut page corners, insert dividers, firmly attaching additional pages in the reference.

Unfortunately we aren’t allowed flimsy sticky notes or post-its within the book so I used folded pages and very stable index sticky notes to direct my attention to important bits in the book instead. As mentioned, personalised tips/notes were on the folded pages and they worked really well for me to make sure I didn’t forget something or make a classic mistake.

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