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Transition: HSC Maths to University Maths (1 Viewer)

Carrotsticks

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Hello all,

This post is targeted at those who just graduated and will be undertaking Mathematics at a Tertiary level.

The goal of this thread is to help prepare you with the transition from education at School, to education at University. Each University functions differently, so I will try my best to cover the things universal across all Universities and

Now I want to get one thing straight first, since this is something often ignored:

There are MANY people who acquire Band 6 in Extension 2 Mathematics, but Pass/Credit average at University.

Conversely:

There are MANY people who acquire High Distinction average at University, but did not even get a Band 6 in Extension 2 Mathematics.

This begs the question, WHY?

ANSWER: Work Ethic.

Whether you get a HD or not is entirely up to YOU.

Attend lectures (without falling asleep in them!), properly attempt the tutorial questions, try a few extra textbook questions yourself, and you are well on your way to a HD for that subject.

Here is a table outlining some of the differences between learning Mathematics at University as opposed to at school. However, things may change with different Universities:

AspectUniversitySchool
MaterialMore plentiful than school, but sometimes irrelevant to the University syllabus. There are usually only ~2 textbooks that the University uses as reference to base their syllabus and notes on. Since all schools follow a strict and well-defined syllabus, the textbooks teach the same material, so any will do.

Actual teachingThere is little opportunity for asking questions during lectures. You can interrupt the lecturer a couple of times if they're really skimpy on a particular detail, but generally people don't like it if you ask too many questions and constantly interrupt them. There usually is little to no time to practise questions, just pure theory.Usually one lesson would consist maybe a bit more than half the lesson on theory, then the rest on practising questions.
'Homework'There is no 'set homework'. If you don't do your tutorial sheets, nobody cares. If you do no extra revision at home, nobody cares. All that is expected is that you acquire decent marks during examinations. You work at your own pace. Homework is often set and checked. If you don't do it, you often get a letter sent home and/or the thread of an 'N award'. All the questions are already set for you.
WorkloadThe workload often tends to be higher because of the significantly increased pace.You have more subjects, but each of them have much less content in comparison with University.
TuitionVery few tuition services available and generally looked down upon since University is all about developing independence.Plenty of extra tuition services available.


Common Mistakes:

  • Skipping a lecture and thinking "I'll read the notes at home".
You probably won't and if you do, it won't be as good as actually being there. There are some things you learn by actually being there that just can't be learnt (as efficiently) by reading the course notes. A perfect example of this is the 'Epsilon-Delta definition of the Limit', which was quite poorly explained in the course notes but in person, was understood immediately. Plus, some lecturers give exam tips and hints (regarding what will be examined), and those surely are not in the course notes!
  • "This seems like a good book, but it costs $150+, so I won't get it".
If a book seems good to you and you think you can learn a lot from it, it is worth investing in it. This is especially true for Calculus based subjects as there are a plethora of books. If you see one of those really big and fat Calculus books (ie: James Stewart series), they will most likely cover 1st, 2nd AND a bit of 3rd year Calculus in it. They may be expensive, but the investment is worthwhile. Often, their explanations and diagrams are superior, and they have plenty of questions for you to practise.


Tips:

  • Read your course notes/textbook before the lecture.
Nothing is worse (okay some things are worse) than going into a lecture and not knowing what is going on at all. What you want is to be able to follow everything the lecturer is saying, because more often than not it is valuable and they are giving you those tips/pieces of information for a reason. You don't want to be missing out on priceless hints/shortcuts just because you didn't understand the material well enough to actually use them! Furthermore, sometimes the course notes explain things in a very complicated manner that can be easily understood if explained differently and in person.

  • Make use of your lecturer's consultation hours.
They are there for a reason. Sometimes when you flick through the course notes to read ahead (or perhaps to catch up) on particular concepts, you will come across a particular concept that you just can't understand. Instead of just leaving it there (and you may forget later), simply visit the lecturer during their consultation hours or perhaps even send the lecturer or tutor an email! Make sure to be polite and to address them correctly ie: Dr Brown.

  • Find a study buddy(s).
Positive motivation is good. Try to find a study buddy (or a study group) around your level and I stress the YOUR LEVEL. Reason is because you nobody likes going to a study session where all you end up doing is teaching the other person. Work together, collaborate, share ideas.

More will be added soon...

Most importantly:

~LOVE THY MATHEMATICS~

 

cutemouse

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If you go to UNSW you shouldn't buy the prescribed textbooks for 1st year maths (they even say in the lectures that it's not necessary, but according to the bookshop it is necessary).
 

withoutaface

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From my experience (pure maths/usyd):
1. I've never come across a lecturer who's clearer than their course notes, especially at 8 in the morning. YMMV but I generally marks were inversely corollated with lecture attendance, because I only really attended lectures for subjects I was struggling with.
2. Cover the tutorial questions thoroughly. They're designed to give you (close to) full coverage of the course content. Past papers are obviously also helpful.
3. Unless they're particularly uptight, most lecturers aren't going to mind being addressed by their first name. You're not in school anymore!
4. William Chen of Macquarie's lecture notes are exceptional, they cover all first year stuff and a fair amount of second year content. Use them as a supplement to your uni's supplied notes if anything's unclear.
 

emilios

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On a side note, you mention work ethic, which is obviously extremely important, but are there honestly students that band 6'd EX2 Maths without having already developed a solid work ethic? You can't really sneeze and get an E4, so is the problem that some students start to slack off post high school?
 

RealiseNothing

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On a side note, you mention work ethic, which is obviously extremely important, but are there honestly students that band 6'd EX2 Maths without having already developed a solid work ethic? You can't really sneeze and get an E4, so is the problem that some students start to slack off post high school?
E4 in MX2 really isn't that hard.
 

seanieg89

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My work ethic was pretty terrible in high school (and even the first year or two of uni tbh).
 

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