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  • Helen

Exam Preparation Week 5

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Welcome back to another Maths Methods post where we discuss everything and anything VCE Maths related! This week’s post will focus on exam 2, your one very important tool - the CAS/Casio calculator, and revision strategies. So let’s get into it, shall we?

PART 1- Exam 2

Counting for 44% of your study score, Methods Exam 2 is inevitably a heavy task and one that employs a wide range of skills learnt throughout the year. In simple terms, Methods Exam 2 is like the new Hungry Jacks’ Big Jack burger - it’s big, it’s complex, it’s delicious (questionable) and it has many layers. Thus it’s the one exam that students stress over.

Exam 2 is all about speed and accuracy.

With only 2 hours to complete a set of 20 multiple choice questions and 4-5 extended response questions, many students (including my year-12 me) complained about not having enough time. Thankfully you do have 15 minutes of reading time at the start and it is crucial that you use it wisely.

I would spend the majority of my reading time to prioritise reading through the Multiple choice section. This is a really useful time saving strategy since by reading you might be able to figure out the questions without having to pick up your pen! This means once writing time starts, you’ll save an accumulated amount of roughly 10 minutes. Eventually, as you progress through your practice exams, try aiming to finish the MCQs within the 30-40 minutes of the exam.

PART 2- The Calculator - an important tool in Exam 2

Walking into your Methods Exam 2, you will be allowed one bound reference, a CAS/Casio calculator and some other basic stationery (pens, pencils, rulers, etc.) I have talked about the use of bound reference in my previous post so the focus is on the calculator and how using it effectively will save you so much time.

I am so glad for having practiced using my CAS over and over until I was fast and fluid with it. Instead of spending time looking for where the buttons for everything are, once you are used to using your calculator, it almost becomes muscle memory where each function and symbol is. Therefore I would strongly recommend befriending your CAS during exam revision to then use it to your advantage in the real exam. Here are some few steps you can take to make sure you’ve got a good grasp of the CAS:

1. Read through the CAS/Casio instructions in your textbook.

These sections are usually and unfortunately underrated hence ignored by most students but they give you the skills that you need for the CAS in all exam questions! After reading through it you can also choose to do step 2.

2. Copy the instructions into your bound reference if not sure.

You’ve got the bound reference AND the calculator to help you in one exam, why not use them together? Whenever you encounter a set of complex CAS instructions that you struggle to memorise I’d recommend writing it into your cheat sheet book for your reference (duh) for the day.

2. Define! Define! Define!

Once again I am honing down on the time saving nature of the CAS - defining a function at the start of each question (especially Extended Response questions) makes you not only time efficient in the exam but helps you to avoid silly/human errors when manually typing down looooong equations.

This week’s been all about SPEED and how to maximise your use of time in the exam to your advantage. Let me know if you have any other tips that you want to share on how you manage your time in the exams!

PART 3- Revision strategies

1. Have a plan

Start by planning the night before, right down your goals for the next day. This will enable you to have a much clearer idea of what you are going to do once you sit down at your desk the next morning. This is the first step to a productive day of revision!

How detailed should you be with your planning? Make sure you ask yourself these following questions:

  • What subjects are you doing? Prioritise exams that are closer and subjects that you struggle more with.

  • What are you doing for a particular subject? You can choose to do practice exams for certain subjects and review on important topics for others.

  • When are you doing it? We’ll discuss in more detail about the timing of each subject in point no 3.

  • How long is it going to take for each task? Monitor how long it takes to complete tasks and adjust later on in your plans so you don't under or over estimate how long tasks take.

  • Have you left yourself some space? This is literal space on your calendar and also figurative space for your brain and body to rejuvenate.

2. Stick to the plan!

Did I forget to mention this?

I understand working through practice exam after practice exam isn’t the most enjoyable thing but keep your eye on the big goal and discipline yourself to that beautiful plan you just made last night!

3. Know when YOU work best and when you SHOULD work best

In my opinion this is a really important point to drive home. Know yourself and know your exam.

If your English/EAL exam is in the morning at 9:00AM (which it is) then you should get into the habit of writing essays in the early morning. I personally promised myself to write 2 essays every morning after breakfast in the last 2 weeks leading up to the English exam. I strongly recommend you guys trying this out!

Maths Methods exam 1 is scheduled to be in the morning whereas Exam 2 is at 3:00PM. This means you can schedule your practice exams to be in similar time frames to these to be more effective in maximising your performance.

Additionally, planning when to do what also greatly depends on yourself! If you are an early bird then there is no point in staying up at 2 or 3 in the morning to cram through practice exams because your body just doesn’t function at that time anymore. If you are a night owl then may I suggest trying to wake up earlier day by day to condition yourself with some of the early VCE exams.

Personally I found myself to struggle from afternoon slumps after lunch so I solved the issue by eating a light lunch and revising for easier/lighter subjects in the afternoon.

4. Condition your brain

We’ve briefly discussed conditioning the brain to the timing of the exam. What about the environment?

If you are able to know the location of your exam, you might want to try doing your practice exams in that particular environment, be it the library or the VCE/Year 12 centre! This repetition doing practice exams not only builds up your knowledge but also instills confidence and comfort when you do the real exam!

5. Your health comes first!

This is the most important thing that I learnt in Year 12 and am still learning. Your health comes first and by saying this I am strongly encouraging you to:

  • Keep yourself hydrated when you’re studying. Build the habit of always having a water bottle by your side. It’s a great study assistant.

  • Eat healthily. Nutrition is essential for a top performing brain. Opt in for a nut snack instead of a pack of chips. Stop indulging in Red Bull or coffee to keep you awake, enjoy a wholesome cup of tea and some refreshing water!.

  • Sleep enough. I can’t stress enough the important impact of sleep on your brain’s health. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. This will not only give you a fresh start to a new day but also helps to improve on your memory and performance in the long term!

Above are the main 5 points that I would recommend you looking into when you are revising for your exams from home. Let me know if you have any other suggestions or ideas on how you’d like to study from home! See you next time!

I’ll see you next week!

Have a question?

In the final weeks before exams Helen will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Helen might answer it live!

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