10 Psychology Based Tips For Your Next Maths Examination
So you have armed yourself to the teeth for the upcoming maths paper by attempting tons of practice questions and cramming long lists of formulas into your memory bank, but somehow the uneasiness and fear of messing up spectacularly during the actual sitting lingers at the back of your head. Feeling that way is pretty common, and while it is very hard to shut out that biting tension and nervousness altogether, here are some stuff you can do (before and during the exam) to instil calmness and a greater sense of mental equilibrium within yourself for success:
1.Get some sleep
Have an early night before the exam-you need it, especially when its mathematics you are dealing
with. A rested/refreshed state of mind grants you the precious gifts of clarity and astuteness
when interpreting complex problems, thereby allowing for the formulation of efficient solving
On the day of the maths exam, bring only yourself, your calculator and stationery to school. That’s
right, no notes, textbooks or academic accessories. Too often you see students curled up in
corners of the hall (or classroom) desperately flipping pages, mumbling to themselves, consulting
one another for last minute “ checks” so on and so forth- you get the drift. Anything done at
the eleventh hour is a tad too late; any efforts to digest additional maths related material will only
serve to prematurely strain and assault your thought processes. Isolate yourself from the circus of
book hugging desperados and just maintain a clean empty slate.
photo credit: Jon_Marshall
Start off well. Scan through the exam script and begin working on a question which you feel
capable of cracking; it doesn’t necessarily have to be the very first question on the maths paper.
Momentum and confidence would build up far more easily once you take off on the right note.
Stop looking around and getting distracted by your surroundings. This is one common
“busybody” habit of students when they get stuck while doing a sum-their eyes just can’t
stop wandering around to evaluate the progress of their peers. If you see your friend head
bowed furiously writing away, chances are you will feel threatened and stressed because he
is going forward, and you aren’t. Its all about winning yourself, not him-so go back to
your work and get rid of all those self frightening, silly imaginations.
5.Get even more focused
When solving a particular question, discipline your mental faculties to focus a hundred percent on
getting it sorted out properly. If half of you is still mulling over a previous partially completed
maths problem while writing your current answers, be prepared to make some real dumb mistakes.
6. Keep calm
When you encounter a seemingly intimidating maths question, analyse it in a rational manner before deciding the course of action. Too often students simply bail out just because things look “scary” at
the first glance when in actual fact, the question is pretty manageable.
7. Get choosy
Lengthy questions are typically easier than shortly worded ones. Why so? They tend to include
far more hints and tidbits of useful information. Do the questions that look easy first, to give you more confidence, but don’t dismiss those long, detailed maths exam questions.
8. Keep time
photo credit: photographer padawan *(xava du)
The number one reason behind students not being able to complete their maths papers is poor time management. You can avoid being a victim of this. Based on the duration of the paper as well as
the number of questions required to be attempted, allocate a sensible block of time for each
maths question. Adjust your pace by periodically monitoring the clock (or watch). You will be surprised
to find yourself breathing much more easily once you done the above.
9. Let go
photo credit: h.koppdelaney
Learn to cut your losses. A student doesn’t feel psychologically satisfied should he manage to
finish an entire question save for a very small part of it, so chances are he will endeavour to
conquer that little stumbling block. Painful as it is, if you can’t wrap things up after an extended
period has elapsed, bite your teeth and move on.
10. Get checking
Last but not least, make checking your solutions a part of your exam routine. Mistakes
detected early can ultimately help avert an avalanche of disasters and heartaches, especially when
it comes to question structures which are designed such that answers( and hence any arising
errors) are being snowballed.
Frederick Koh is a teacher residing in Singapore who specialises in teaching the A level maths curriculum. He has accumulated more than a decade of tutoring experience and loves to share his passion for mathematics on his personal site www.whitegroupmaths.com .
Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.