How I Juggled Three Maths Subjects in Year 12By Luke Santomartino in VCE
26th of February 2018
Luke Santomartino graduated in 2016 with an ATAR of 99.25. He studied Further (49 raw), Methods (48 raw) and Specialist Maths (40 raw).
I think the trick to doing well in three maths subjects at once needs to be that you don’t treat them as separate subjects. Each one can teach you a skill that the others don’t.
For me, Methods basically taught me how to do maths. Spesh taught me to think outside the box. And Further taught me to think about how I answered questions. When you use these subjects to build on one another, understanding concepts becomes a lot easier.
Pros and cons?
The workload was a bit much at times, seeing as all three subjects are heavily skill-based, where you need to apply knowledge to questions. As such, I made sure I was always up-to-date in the textbook, and that I had done every type of question that was there.
Work smart – not hard. You will find that a lot of Specialist questions use Methods knowledge. They basically extend it. So practising calculus for Spesh is just the same, if not better, than practising it for Methods. You don’t need to feel guilty about just doing Spesh work for one night.
For some people, juggling three maths subjects is not their cup of tea. This is because the majority of your days at school will simply be maths. Since I also did Physics, English was my only safe haven. But I enjoyed doing all three maths, because that’s what I was interested in; even Further Maths was quite interesting when you think of the concepts being taught instead of mindlessly following steps to solve questions. It was fun to think of better methods than the ones taught at school and in the textbook – methods derived from the other two subjects.
Advantages for maths at uni?
Looking toward the future, doing three maths might put you in a really good position in university. Doing Specialist meant I could skip a subject at uni, opening up space for me to try other things. Doing Methods got me into the course as a pre-requisite. Further Maths was the biggest surprise; it actually helped me quite a bit with matrices at uni. I had already learnt the basics and some concepts using matrices from Further, which put me ahead of the other students studying linear algebra at school. So if maths is something you will need in your field of study, doing all three maths will put you in a very good position to score well at uni.
Finally, before you do choose three maths subjects, understand that only your best two can contribute to your top four subjects. The other can only count as your fifth or sixth subject – subjects that ultimately contribute less to your eventual ATAR. For me, this meant my humble 49 in Further Maths did not make my top four. But I still got 10% of that score, which was probably higher than I’d have achieved doing any other subject.
So, at the end of the day, if maths is something that interests you and you are good at it, why not do all three? Certainly better than wasting time on humanities subjects! 😉