Oh boy what a time it is! We can only go outside to stretch our legs a bit, our teachers and tutors are wearing pyjamas in all the Zoom calls, and how can we possibly do homework when the link to ‘Google Drive’ is so very close to the link to ‘Netflix’!
Oh, and most importantly…
How do we study for Methods during this whole COVID-19 debacle?
As a fellow maths student, I understand your pain. Somehow, at home, sine waves start looking like squiggly lines and you couldn’t give a damn whether x is unknown or not. Nevertheless, let’s try a couple thing to make the process easier.
You’ve heard it a million times, but you have to keep yourself in check. Since we can’t physically enter a new environment for school, you have to be extra strict on yourself.
Chances are you haven’t done this much schoolwork at home before, and, your brain knows that! When you study on your bed, your brain goes into ‘sleep mode’ or ‘chill mode’. Whatever mode it goes to, it’s definitely not going to be ‘let’s-solve-this-calculus-question mode’. What that means is you must change things up a bit!
Create a place in your house, or a different spot in your room, and make it your study spot. Now when you study in the study spot, since it’s all new and exciting, your brain wants to make a connection with what you do at that spot. So, after studying there a couple of times, when you subsequently study there, your brain will develop this new ‘study mode’ on command. How nifty!
Note: Don’t give your brain mixed signals! When you want to procrastinate or take a break, make sure you leave your study spot.
Now that we’ve got a nice cosy little location for us to study in, we have to figure out:
A lot of people think that when you get to VCE, it’s going to be a constant stress. Assignment here, SAC there, what’s that above your head? Bang! It’s chapter 16C that your teacher prescribed. Okay, true, VCE is kind of crazy, but the stress shouldn’t be constant!
To manage that, I’d really recommend getting into writing to-do lists. I use a website called ‘todoist’, and there’s also gamified ones like ‘habitica’, but at the end of the day, they all do the same thing. What you want to do is map out your workload.
When you map out your workload, what you are doing is you are writing every little thing you need to do. So, for instance, instead of:
Something like this:
is much more productive!
Why? Because now you know exactly every little thing you need to do, nothing more, nothing less. The reason why this is good will become more apparent later!
So that’s part 1. Part 2 is scheduling. Once you have a nice little to-do list, what you want to do is allocate each little ‘sub-task’ a day in which you want to complete it. It might look something like this:
Perfect! Now since we’ve written everything we need to do (nothing more, nothing less), we can mindlessly just follow this plan, and then we can have a really nice break afterwards. How great is that?
Now that we’ve gotten the nitty-gritty out of the way, we can get to the good stuff. How are we going to study for methods in particular?
Questions 10-15 seems easy enough right? You open your textbook to question 10, but suddenly you are bombarded! Question 10 goes all the way up to part (x) and question 11 isn’t any better! “No way can I solve 4x=2 and x+4=12 twenty times, I simply won’t do it, it’s not good for my mental health!”
You’re totally correct! With these long tiresome lists of questions that go to the n-th letter, you’re not supposed to do all of them. What they’re designed to do is give you a wide range and exposure to a whole lot of different types of questions. Kind of like enhancing your ‘mathematical vocabulary’. When you’re doing these questions have a skim and see if you’ve done something like it before. If you have and found it easy, just skip it!
Say you are getting tested on a novel, the teacher said it will be on the whole novel, and, the novel is like 800 pages! What a tragedy, how are you supposed to do that? You feel a tap on your shoulder. It’s your mate Jimmy! He whispers in your ear, “I got a glimpse of the test, it’s only on chapter 4!”. Wow! You’ve known Jimmy for years; he wouldn’t lie to you. So, what do you do? Do you study the whole novel, or only chapter 4?
The book is your methods textbook, and your mate is VCAA’s ‘Past examinations and examination reports’. Make use of it! The exams will show you exactly what you need to be studying.
And, that’s all from me! At the end of the day, math is just like any other subject. It’s all about managing your time and seeking help when you need it. We’re social creatures, we aren’t meant to do things alone, and we’re human, we need breaks and schedules. Now, find that new study spot, write a to-do list, do every third question this time, and have a look at last year’s exam paper.