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Thread: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

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    New Member terushi's Avatar
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    Question Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    I love maths, I really do, but it's one of my worst subjects. Although I'll be receiving an A for this semester's report, my half-yearly exam was horrible. The first half was a general, all areas exam (why, just why?) and the 5.3 specific half was very unexpected. I ended up getting around 63% for the whole exam.

    It's a big goal of mine to improve in maths. At the moment, I'm within the top 10 in my class of around 60, but I'm finding it a bit difficult to achieve higher marks. I'm trying to figure out some ways to improve my marks and remain consistent with problem-solving. So far I've been completing the chapters earlier (HUGE benefit), but other than that I don't really know what else will boost my abilities. I feel as though no matter what I study, I can never be ready for the exam.

    Are there any tactics I could use to drastically improve my maths? I know practicing is one; I have no issue doing maths everyday, I really do like problem solving with numbers. But are there any other ways I could be at least 90% capable of doing my next exam rather than, like, 50%? I feel like our textbook really isn't enough sometimes.

    Are there any MX1 students, or maths students in general, that could give me some advice? I'll be doing MX1 next year too and would really appreciate it .

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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Do you know specifically why you are getting unsatisfactory marks? You need to figure out why before you can fix it. Exams are there to assess your mastery of the material. Any deficits will be apparent and if these are left unchecked, then you may not have enough foundation to understand future mathematical concepts. I mean, after every exam, do you make the effort to figure out your deficits and work on them or do you just examine your paper quickly and conclude that you didn't study enough then get anxious?

    People say practicing is important for maths but they don't tell you the details. Don't mindlessly do questions for hours and call that sufficient practice. A superior and more useful measure is to identify what you learnt after that study session. If you wish to use number of hours as a metric for your study quality, then it's important that you be mindful of the level of concentration you have during that study session. Otherwise, you're taking into account low-focus, inefficient work that you thought was high-focus and efficient. Of course this is an estimate but a better one.

    A great deal of self-improvements comes from introspection; the examination of your own thoughts. It's important because it allows you to identify bad thinking habits which then you can carry out a plan to rectify it in the future. Example, silly mistakes like 3*3 = 6. Ever wonder what you are thinking exactly at the moment you make the silly mistake?

    For optimal growth, you should introduce discomfort to every study session you have. Discomfort allows your brain to adapt and grow; to become more efficient at the particular thing you're doing. Reason this is important is that it can make study more efficient and increase your problem solving skills drastically. You'll be spending more time thinking, doing lesser questions, BUT your study sessions will be more focused and have greater depth than compared to someone who mindlessly does set exercises at COMFORT OR claims to have done 8 hours of study but in reality, they just did exercise questions at comfort. Here's an example of this working real-time: do 2-addition multiplication for a few minutes, then do 3-digit addition for a few minutes, switch back to 2-digit addition. Did you notice improvements?

    If you want to feel '90% capable' of doing your next exam, then you need to figure out what led you to your unsatisfactory marks to begin with. Maybe you were missing basic concepts, made so many errors, could not solve a problem even though you the content, etc.

    Final advice: focus on fundamentals, then move onto harder questions when appropriate. I'll leave others to give you math-related advice.
    Last edited by He-Mann; 16 Jun 2017 at 2:55 AM.

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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    I would really emphasise that the most important concepts for being able to do well in tests and be able to so any question presented to you in a test, is too ensure that you DO NOT move on unless you know a topic back to front.

    The reason you're not getting optimal results will probably be due to one or all of these 3 things:

    1. Can't manipulate concepts to question

    If you're not sure about the reasoning behind why something is the answer or what your answer means with respect to the situation presented, you won't be able to manipulate your knowledge and concepts to different situations or questions. So I think it is essential to work through a textbook step-by-step (and it's even better that you're willing to do maths everyday) and ensure you understand every single question you do.

    Obviously this doesn't mean to know the proof of the fundamentals or really complex proofs beyond your level of math, but to know the "real-life" or situational use and meaning of what you're learning is essential to being able to do a question.

    2. Running out of time

    3. Silly mistakes

    I would say these two can be eliminated once number 1 is done correctly and you've had plenty of practise.

    The good thing is that your attitude and willingness considering you're only in year 10 is great and is setting you up for success in Preliminary practise and concepts and HSC year results.

    All the best and I hope this helps

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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Quote Originally Posted by terushi View Post
    I love maths, I really do, but it's one of my worst subjects. Although I'll be receiving an A for this semester's report, my half-yearly exam was horrible. The first half was a general, all areas exam (why, just why?) and the 5.3 specific half was very unexpected. I ended up getting around 63% for the whole exam.

    It's a big goal of mine to improve in maths. At the moment, I'm within the top 10 in my class of around 60, but I'm finding it a bit difficult to achieve higher marks. I'm trying to figure out some ways to improve my marks and remain consistent with problem-solving. So far I've been completing the chapters earlier (HUGE benefit), but other than that I don't really know what else will boost my abilities. I feel as though no matter what I study, I can never be ready for the exam.

    Are there any tactics I could use to drastically improve my maths? I know practicing is one; I have no issue doing maths everyday, I really do like problem solving with numbers. But are there any other ways I could be at least 90% capable of doing my next exam rather than, like, 50%? I feel like our textbook really isn't enough sometimes.

    Are there any MX1 students, or maths students in general, that could give me some advice? I'll be doing MX1 next year too and would really appreciate it .
    What are the main mistakes you're making?

    If it's silly mistakes, practice more under timed conditions so you're used to the pressure.

    If it's not knowing how to do hard questions, probably need to understand the concepts not just rote learn them. Write down everything the question gives you and any formulas relating to the topic you think it is, e.g. for 4u mechanics resisted motion, F = ma, etc. From this you might realise what to use to solce the question. Also skipping and coming back later helps a lot because you'll have a frwsh set of eyes and might see something you missed earlier.
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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    As I have said a million times before, "silly mistakes" are often not silly mistakes but a manifestation of unsatisfactory mastery of fundamentals; at your level, usually of algebra. Once you have fully identified these, acknowledge them, and remediate them - you are then well on your way to improving your maths "drastically". I like to think of myself as being quite good at diagnosing such ailments. Strangely enough, it is hard for you to fix them yourself simply because you are not yourself aware of them; otherwise you would not have committed those mistakes in the first place except for cases where they are truly silly mistakes.
    Last edited by Drongoski; 16 Jun 2017 at 2:26 PM.
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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drongoski View Post
    As I have said a million times before, "silly mistakes" are often not silly mistakes but a manifestation of unsatisfactory mastery of fundamentals; at your level, usually of algebra. Once you have fully identified these, acknowledge them, and remediate them - you are then well on your way to improving your maths "drastically". I like to think of myself as being quite good at diagnosing such ailments. Strangely enough, it is hard for you to fix them yourself simply because you are not yourself aware of them; otherwise you would not have committed those mistakes in the first place except for cases where they are truly silly mistakes.
    Examples of what you classify as "truly silly mistakes" are:

    3*3 = 6,

    d/dx (2e^{2x} + x) = 2*2e^{2x} + 1 = 4e^{2x} (failed to write +1),

    right? If so, how would you remedy this and prevent in the future?

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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Quote Originally Posted by He-Mann View Post
    Examples of what you classify as "truly silly mistakes" are:

    3*3 = 6,

    d/dx (2e^{2x} + x) = 2*2e^{2x} + 1 = 4e^{2x} (failed to write +1),

    right? If so, how would you remedy this and prevent in the future?
    admittedly, I've done this many, many times before. you can't fix these, you just have to be on top of your shit

    there is a clear distinction between forgetting the "+1" at the end of that differentiation and not knowing that you needed to put that there in the first place.
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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    going back to my math 2e exam, i evaluated a double integral then realized that pi/2*2 =/= pi

















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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    and how to remedy that -> heaps of practice
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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Squar3root View Post
    admittedly, I've done this many, many times before. you can't fix these, you just have to be on top of your shit

    there is a clear distinction between forgetting the "+1" at the end of that differentiation and not knowing that you needed to put that there in the first place.
    You can fix these but I want hear Drongoski's strategy before I share mine.

    Let's assume that the person is a master of differentiation so he/she did not differentiate the constant. I tried to make it obvious that this mistake was not made due to misunderstanding of differentiate.

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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Quote Originally Posted by He-Mann View Post
    Examples of what you classify as "truly silly mistakes" are:

    3*3 = 6,

    d/dx (2e^{2x} + x) = 2*2e^{2x} + 1 = 4e^{2x} (failed to write +1),

    right? If so, how would you remedy this and prevent in the future?
    These are indeed what I mean by true silly mistakes. How to fix such problems would depend on each case. Some students may want to rush thru their work to complete their paper; in such cases errors of this type can occur. Some make such careless mistakes because they are not very disciplined and do not have good work habits.

    If I were to sit for an exam, I would invest additional time in being extra careful with each step instead of finishing quickly and with time saved, returning to go over as many solutions as possible to correct any mistakes found.
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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Squar3root View Post
    and how to remedy that -> heaps of practice
    This method is inefficient and is essentially directionless because you don't know the exact cause of these silly mistakes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drongoski View Post
    These are indeed what I mean by true silly mistakes. How to fix such problems would depend on each case. Some students may want to rush thru their work to complete their paper; in such cases errors of this type can occur. Some make such careless mistakes because they are not very disciplined and do not have good work habits.

    If I were to sit for an exam, I would invest additional time in being extra careful with each step instead of finishing quickly and with time saved, returning to go over as many solutions as possible to correct any mistakes found.
    Well said. Good work habits leads to a less cluttered mind and more organised working space (on paper). Our strategies are very similar, but the distinction is that I put heavy focus on mindfulness and increasing concentration levels. This is because I believe these mistakes are caused by:

    -unbalanced focus: putting less focus on trivial stuff and more focus on harder stuff.

    -lack of focus (carelessness): follows from the above. You're thinking about something else while you're doing the 3*3 computation. This is similar to multi-tasking and will make you more prone to errors.

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    Re: Maths success stories/how to improve drastically in maths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Squar3root View Post
    and how to remedy that -> heaps of practice
    I agree. Doing 2u last year for the half yearly made quite a few silly mistakes due to little practice but for future trials started doing more past papers and made like no silly mistakes in the other trials so I think past papers definitely helps and probably under time pressure
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