**Introduction:**Hi!

I’m Zealous (not my name in real life... surprise!) and last year (2013) I achieved study scores of 50 in Further Mathematics (with a Premier’s Award) and a study score of 48 in Mathematical Methods (CAS). Even though I still have a lot to learn about VCE (I’m doing Specialist this year and am yet to complete VCE), I’ve decided to put together some tips from what I’ve learnt so far from 2013 anyway; I hope you guys will find it useful!

*Disclaimer:* I expect that you would have already heard these tips in some way before (they're pretty general) - what I hope to do in this thread is to add my own twists and personal experiences to each tip, making them very applicable for everyone. This guide may not be for everyone, if you’ve already got five 50’s then this is probably not for you =p.

**1: Set your goals high and remind yourself of it.**If you’ve found this guide and are reading this, you are probably aiming pretty high for this VCE subject. The fact that you’ve come out of your way to look at these tips shows that you are interested in doing your best. Think hard about a goal that you want to achieve then write it down. Put it somewhere you can see every now and then. With your goals set in stone and your commitment in place, you will be amazed at how much effort you put in to achieve them.

**~ What did I do?** I personally wrote my goals for my two 3/4 subjects on a post-it note and stuck it on my bedroom wall a few months before exams. I set my goal for Methods at a 47 raw because I knew it was high but not out of reach and it was one study score higher than the score my sister previously achieved (I’m a little competitive).

**2: Track your progress throughout the year for everything, especially practice papers.**Practice exams in my opinion are the best way to revise for your exams (in mathematics!). Doing as many as possible is not a bad thing. You can definitely make the most of practice exams if you record the results of every practice paper you do and any errors or mistakes you made. Don't think this is just for practice exams though as you can definitely benefit from putting all your results for tests and SACs throughout the year in the document as well.

**~ What did I do?** I created an excel spreadsheet early in the year and tracked every single test, SAC and practice paper I did. For practice exams, I filled in as much information as I could. I added a column for "Duration" because I wanted to know how much time I spent writing and how much time I spent checking answers. When exams neared, I took the list of my errors and tricky points then compiled them into a word document. That became the front page of my bound references for both Methods and Further (image below). It only takes 15 minutes maximum to set up a template in excel which you can fill out as they year goes on so why not start now?

You can see my biggest issue was misreading questions – it happens to a lot of people. I didn't end up looking at my bound reference much during exams, but preparing the document was great revision!

**3: Be efficient on your CAS calculator.**All VCE mathematics subjects allow the use of the CAS calculator in at least one exam. This is an incredibly useful piece of equipment. Spend as much time as possible using this calculator as opposed to your traditional scientific calculators, so you can increase your speed on it and become accustomed to the layout of the keys and the menus.

**~ What did I do?**For Further, I used my CAS for the Sequences and Series module in order to boost my speed and accuracy. I used the list and spreadsheets section of my CAS to generate a sequence for every question I did in the exam instead of the formulas. In the screenshot below you can see I labelled the column “n2” for Number Patterns Question 2 and generated its respective sequence below. I could come back to this page anytime if I wanted to check my answers.

For Methods, on top of all the standard techniques I used (b^3 has a great guide here:

http://tiny.cc/b5xsnw), I also used my CAS for organisation. You can easily end up with a jumble of calculations all over the place in methods, so I took advantage of the Problem’s feature on the CAS to counter this. I gave every extended response question in the methods exam its own “Problem” and within the problem its own calculator page, graphing page etc. Separating questions to different problems allowed defined functions to be separate from functions in other problems (the f(x) in Q3 was different from the f(x) in my multiple choice problem).

**4: Use your time in class wisely.**There is a lot of time available in class to work on your subjects. Using this time effectively can help immensely when juggling other subjects. There is nothing wrong with talking with peers (which I definitely did), but everything extra you do inside of class is something you may not have to do outside of class. Another way to put it is that any work you can do in class gives you more time outside of class to work on extra work. This extra work is what’s going to push you ahead - the majority of high achievers do all the class work, it is what you do on top which can really make the difference.

If you are student that works very fast, you may decide to work a little bit ahead of the class or even finish the coursework before your class does. It is up to you how much you want to do, but don’t regret not doing anything in class time at the end of the year. Find a good balance.

I went ahead and calculated how many hours I have with each subject every year:

You think getting the hours for your L’s takes time? You have 150 hours within class with your teachers. I tried to make the most of it at the start of the year and towards the end of the year my teacher allowed me to complete practice exams in class (as I had finished the coursework). My blocks for further were usually 100 minutes, the perfect amount of time to do an exam 1 or exam 2 and correct it.

**5: Always check your answers and have confidence in your answers.**For the majority of the questions in VCE Mathematics, you’re going to end up with a number. The marking for mathematics is also very straightforward, the correct number gets a mark and a wrong answer does not get a mark (and working gets marks sometimes). That’s why checking your answers and ensuring their accuracy is very important.

During my Further Mathematics exams at the end of 2013, I was amazed at how many students just sat in their seat staring forwards once they had completed their exams. They wasted valuable time. No matter what topic you are doing, there should be a reasonable way of checking your answer’s accuracy if you have that extra bit of time.

I ended up using Normal Distribution functions from the Methods course (NormCDF) on my CAS calculator in order to check the accuracy of my results in Further Mathematics for the bell curve. In Further Mathematics when I was checking my business mathematics module, I ended up using the stupidly long annuities formula to make sure I didn’t make an error in TVM/Finance solver. Some people use a USQ approach: Units, Sense, Question – Are my units correct? Does my number actually make sense? Does my answer cover what the question is asking?

So what I’m saying is, find what works for you. It does not matter how wonky your method is to check your answer (like mine) because that’s not what the examiners will mark you on; rather make sure you have a way of being confident in your results. You should be able to say at the end of an exam: “I’ve done everything I can to make sure this answer is correct, so how could it be wrong?”

**Conclusion:**So there are my 5 tips for VCE Mathematics. As I mentioned before, they were probably really obvious things but hopefully I have at least given you guys some ideas or good ways of applying them to your everyday studies. Feel free to leave any questions related to VCE Mathematics or even more specific questions about the subjects I took last year!

I may end up writing specific guides for Further and Methods, depending on how much "new" stuff I think I can contribute. I don't wanna end up with a guide that ends up looking the same as one done a few years ago.

All the best for your studies!

Zealous