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2 Days Until Methods – Last Minute Preparations

By Stephen Zhang in Study
31st of October 2016
2 days until methods

2 days until Methods, and then, it’s on. Guys and girls, there’s only 48 hours left until Methods Exam 1. Yeah – the stress is real – all the work you’ve put in across the year. It all boils down to this. So here’s how to hit the ground running Wednesday.

Have an exam plan

By this stage, being prepared for the exam is no longer a question about how much revision you’ve done, or how much you think you know. Top on your priority list now should be on deciding on how you’ll tackle both exams.

As you’re (painfully) aware, you’ve got 1 hour for 8 questions worth 40 marks in Exam 1, followed by 2 hours for 20 multiple choice (20 marks) and 4 extended response (60 marks) in Exam 2. Clearly, time is tight and there’s no room for screwing around. Hence, it’s important to write up an exam plan beforehand.

In what order will you do the questions?

This is worth thinking about beforehand. There’s no one-size-fits-all method of doing the exam, so you need to think carefully about what method suits you best!

Option 1: Doing the exam in order

  • Pros: you start off with the easy questions, and build up to the more challenging questions, so your brain gets time to warm up and get into maths mode. Consequently, you might be faster at breaking down the harder questions towards the end of the exam. In addition, easier questions earlier on might jog your memory or give you ideas. You get a smooth progression through the exam, without having to flip back and forth through the booklet.
  • Cons: you get to the harder questions towards the end of the exam, so time might be quite tight (especially if you spend too much time on other parts of the question) and you run the risk of not finishing on time or panicking

Option 2: Doing the exam in reverse order (e.g. extended response first)

  • Pros: you get through the most challenging (and thus more time consuming) questions first, giving you a sense of satisfaction. In the worst case of running out of time towards the end, you can rush the easier questions (whereas it’s usually impossible to rush the real brain-scratchers)
  • Cons: it’s a bit of a cold start (doing the hard questions first), and you generally miss out on the confidence-building aspects of being able to do a significant amount of easier questions. Conversely, in the case that you don’t get some of the really tricky questions (after all, they are at the end of the exam), it may perturb your mental state.

Again, there’s no right or wrong way to do the exam – just make a decision based on what you think will benefit you most!

How will you use your reading time?

How you use your reading time is crucial to successfully tackling the exam. Think carefully about how you’ll use the 15 minutes, and come up with a plan. Here’s what I did (for both exams 1 and 2)

  • Spend the first 5 minutes of reading time flipping briskly through the exam, from front to back. Look at each question, sorting through them by topic as well as whether I had seen similar questions before. I’d take note of any especially challenging looking questions so I’d be able to come back to them later.
  • Spend the remaining 10 minutes going through the exam a second time, this time more slowly but focusing only on the unfamiliar or challenging looking questions. Read through the question once or twice, looking for clues or links to things I’ve learned, searching for the key to piecing the solution together.

I found this way of using reading time (as opposed to doing multiple choice in my head :P) was highly beneficial in terms of boosting my confidence, because it allowed me to get a thorough overview of everything that was on the exam. With this knowledge, I would know roughly how much time I needed to spend on each section of the exam, and whether there were any specific questions that required extra attention (so I could set aside extra time for them)

Have a plan for checking, but don’t count on it.

First things first. Never rely on being able to check over your answers after completing the exam. Do your best towards answering each question fully in your first go, treating checking or going back as a last resort.

That said, make sure you have a plan for how you’ll check a few questions after finishing. Which questions will you prioritise checking for? It’s always a good idea to make note of questions you find particularly challenging or unsure about as you progress through the paper (say, just folding the corner of the page). Once you finish, prioritise checking of those questions.

Set up your CAS for Exam 2

You’ll be using your CAS all the time in Exam 2, so it’s crucial that your calculator is set up to be as efficient as possible. What did I do? On the TI Nspire, I set up an individual calculator page and graphing window for each extended response problem. That way, I would be able to progress from one extended response question to the next, without losing the work for the previous question.

It’s also worth remembering to reset and update your calculator the night before walking into the exam, just to make sure. The last thing you want happening is your CAS freezing during the exam!

Look after yourself!

This close to the exam, a lot of your performance will hinge on your physical and mental wellbeing. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but make sure you sleep well the night before, at least 8 hours.

Stay relaxed. Don’t try to do more practice exams. Don’t try cramming in any more study – it’s not worth it. I never studied the day before the exam, but rather focused on relaxing and psyching myself up for what was to come. Go for a walk in the park. Take in the scenery. Try to keep your mind off the exam as much as you can – it’s at least better than uselessly stressing over it! :)

With that, wishing you well for Wednesday and Thursday (don’t worry, I’ll be sitting an uni exam with you, so be comforted! #feels)

See you on the other side!

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