When preparing for any exam it is always important to explore all the resources that are available to you. Deciding which resources to implement in your studies is entirely up to you. Some methods that other students find to be effective may not suit your preferred style of learning and visa versa.
For this reason, I recommend trying a multitude of different sources and seeing what works best for you. Many of us learn differently, so why would we all try the same approach?
There are certainly some methods that are more tailored to exam preparation and have been tried and tested by countless leaving cert students and teachers in the past.
Perhaps the most practical resource which students can rely on for practicing exam-style questions is the past exam papers. This is always the first thing that I recommend to leaving cert students that are wondering how to study maths.
Using past exam papers in your study efforts for leaving cert maths will give students a sense of the style of questions which typically appear on paper 1 and paper 2 of their maths test.
The past exam papers also allow students to get used to working in an environment where time is constrained. This helps students prepare for the conditions that they will find themselves in within the exam hall when the leaving cert exam rolls around in June.
Timing yourself working through leaving cert answers
Timing yourself solving exam-style questions can help in two ways, firstly it will help to eliminate the chances of you going over the allocated time in the exam hall.
After spending approximately two years preparing for the leaving cert maths exam, You would be shocked with the number of students who get caught up trying to work the answer out for a single question. This is time that would be better spent answering questions that you know the answer to.
With only 2 and a half hours to answer either paper for the leaving cert higher level maths exam, you have to use the time as productively as possible. If you find that you are spending too much time on a question you should skip it and come back to it at the end if you have time. Check out this guide to the higher level leaving cert maths paper.
The last thing that you want is to miss out on some easy marks at the end of the paper because you got caught up trying to figure out a single equation for the entire exam. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important not to panic, and to move on, as there are marks to pick up in each section.
You should also take confidence in your chances of being awarded a low or mid partial credit.
This is often what decides students passing or failing the paper so if you have spent some time trying to work out a question, make sure to leave all of your rough work visible for the examiner. You never know, you might be awarded more marks than you think for your efforts.
On the flip side, students may find themselves finished the paper with a lot of time to spare, personally, I find this equally worrying, as the exam has been designed to take students the allotted time to complete.
Provided you aren’t a maths guru, this is likely an alarm bell that you have missed a section or have rushed some questions throughout the paper.
You should aim to put your time inside the exam hall as productively as possible so that you are picking up marks for the entirety of your time in there.
I think why exam papers are so great for higher-level students is because they train you to think like this and develop your maths and exam skills at the same time. If you are unsure how to pass higher level maths check out this article.
Exam papers as a core study resource
These past exam papers are a great recourse for leaving cert maths students as they provide a great sample of questions for students to study from. Completing somewhere in the region of 5 – 10 exam papers will provide students with a sense of clarity as to what they can expect from the leaving cert maths exam.
It is one thing to practice the theory and calculations for the material associated with the leaving cert maths syllabus, but practicing to perform under exam conditions is something which students typically neglect when studying maths at school.
Working your way through past leaving cert exam papers is a great way to develop both your math and exam skills. You will find yourself more conscious of time and more importantly how best to allocate it in order to maximise the amount of marks you achieve on the big day.
While exploring new methods and diversifying the methods which you rely on for your higher-level math preparations is important, practicing past leaving cert maths papers is a method I deem essential for all students looking to ace that final exam!
So where can you find past exam papers?
Students can choose to purchase a hardcopy of past exam papers which will contain the ten years previous of higher and ordinary level maths papers. You will also be able to find the answers to each of the questions at the back of the book so that you can quickly check that you are going about your work correctly.
Alternatively, students can also find an extended library of exam papers available online. There are many websites where the past leaving cert maths papers are available for students to get their hands on.
Find higher-level maths exam papers at exam.ie
Exam.ie, formerly examinations.ie is a website where students can quickly access the past leaving cert exam papers for any subject. Students will find a log of both higher and ordinary papers for the leaving cert maths course on the website.
This is a website that I used personally when studying for the higher level paper some years ago. I can’t emphasise the importance of implementing resources such as past exam papers into your maths preparations.
I found that just after a few months of practicing exam-style questions that my grades began to shoot up.
I remember it taking me a little bit of time to get used to some of the more wordy questions where you are required to extract the question yourself.
This was different from what I had become used to when practicing the questions from my leaving cert textbook.
I was surprised to find that even in the higher level leaving cert paper that there was some overlap in questions, such as simultaneous equations which appeared each year.
Past exam papers are certainly a great way of realising trends across previous years, this allows students to focus more time towards material that is likely to feature on their exam and ultimately more efficient exam preparation as a result.
Exam papers at the leavingcert.com
TheLeavingCert.com is another website that students can turn to for leaving cert exam papers and answers. Here students will find higher-level maths papers dating right back to 2005. This is a significant sample size to study from that will leave students with a sense of clarity as to what they can expect to see on their own papers in June.
After all, there is no better resource to indicate what will come up than what has already come up in past years, particularly in the five years previous. Students will also have access to the accompanying marking scheme for each of the past papers.
This is also a great indicator for students as to what exactly examiners are giving out low and partial credits for in different questions. If students take time to familiarise themselves with the accompanying marking schemes, they will inherently have a better understanding of where they can pick up marks in an exam situation.
These low and mid partial credits often go a long way in helping students to jump a grade or two in their higher-level maths exam results.
Try a maths tutor with Superprof
A personal tutor can provide some much-needed clarity for students in how to study higher-level maths, they are often a great help when working through past exam papers too!
Having a personal tutor to coach you through past papers will give students an enhanced sense of time management and best practice exam techniques to help ace the higher-level paper.
A tutor can help you regardless of your current level of maths. Whether you are aiming to pass the exam as a minimum entry requirement for a college course or are looking to achieve a H1, you will have no trouble finding the right tutor to suit your ability and goals.
Working through long division sums to the more complex maths questions alongside a teaching professional can help students realise their weaknesses in the subject, allowing them to better target their future learning as a result.
Superprof is a community that comprises of millions of tutors around the world. There is certainly no shortage of higher-level maths tutors available to Irish students looking to maximise their grade.
The service provides students with a degree of flexibility in how they learn. Students are given the opportunity to learn through both ‘in person’ and ‘remote’ options, either in the home of the student or tutor or via webcam.
Why not get your learning off on the right foot today!
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