We make mistakes day in and day out, without even realising the error of our ways or its consequences.
But as we begin the study of 2 Unit Maths, those mistakes somehow tend to multiply to the point that it becomes an issue to decipher what it is that we are actually doing right.
Have no fear!
I’ll take you through the 10 common mistakes that almost every student makes in 2 Unit Maths and how to avoid them!
1. Not fully comprehending the theory before applying it
Yes, practice makes perfect but not if you practice the wrong method over and over again.
Oftentimes, I used to think that I fully understood the theory explained to me by my teacher. I would dive into solving questions, only to flounder about.
This was often the case for me in 2 Unit Maths when it came to questions involving calculus and its applications.
The theory is particularly dense and can be easily mistaken to mean one thing when it means an entirely different something.
Action Point: Make sure that you thoroughly understand the theory first before applying it in practical examples.
2. Studying the night before a test instead of practising regularly
Students can often be panic-stricken and terrified as they prepare for their exams.
This is because most of the HSC students leave practising to the last minute!
By the time an exam rolls around, they want to practice everything but just don’t have the time to.
Action Point: Practice your topics as they are covered and not when they are going to be tested.
3. Using past papers to practice only before Trials or the HSC
Past papers are not extra or optional props that might get you a Band 6 when employed just before your Trials or the HSC maths exam.
Instead, they are essentials weapons that are going to enable you to master the practical application of all the theory.
This can only happen when they are practiced on a regular basis.
Just to incentivise you, here is the link for you to access HSC past papers on the NESA website.
Action Point: Use the past papers on a regular basis to solidify your understanding of the topic that you are studying.
4. Relying solely on the questions given in the prescribed textbook
Yay! At last, you have finished attempting all the questions in your prescribed textbook for the topic that you are studying.
Now you don’t need to study anymore given that you have just finished ALL the questions in your textbook. Yes, a big deal indeed.
Except, that isn’t going to be sufficient when it comes to assessment time.
This is because while you have some practice under your belt, you haven’t had enough exposure to how the same question could be asked in multiple different ways.
Action Point: You should consider doing questions from different textbooks and not just from the one prescribed to you.
Following are some textbooks that are most used by teachers when they write the exam paper:
5. Not reviewing previous school-based 2 Unit Maths papers
The in-class exams that you do during the course of your HSC, while playing a part in determining your final grade, are also essentially practice for you and a chance for you to learn from your mistakes.
Action Point: Review the questions that you’ve gotten wrong in past school tests and be extra cautious of them in your next assessment.
6. Perceiving your calculator as your guardian angel
As much as I’d love to think that my calculator is a safety net in my 2 Unit Maths exam, it’s not.
You still need to know your formulas and know how to apply them.
Therefore, your calculator is only really a small help in a few steps of your application process.
Action Point: So be alert when you are punching in your formulas and remember to double-check your answer at the end.
7. Relying too heavily on the formula sheet
Yes, NESA has been kind enough to let us have a formula sheet in the exam but don’t take their act of kindness as mercy.
They have provided the formula sheet for you only so that you don’t flounder in case your memory betrays you at the last minute.
The onus of the application of formulas on that sheet rest solely on you.
Action Point: Don’t rely on formula sheet to contain the answer to all the questions. It only comes in handy in case of formulas that are impractical to memorise, either because of their rarity or their length/depth.
8. Not making notes for 2 Unit Maths
Making notes is not just a task for those doing humanity subjects. Note-taking is an essential part of acing your 2-Unit Maths course.
Your notes should include relevant formulas as well as the application necessary to undertake them.
For further tips on the art of making good notes for 2 Unit Maths, check out this article.
Action Point: Make concise notes throughout the year.
9. Making notes the night before the 2 Unit Maths exam
Whilst making notes is essential, if you are contemplating making them on the night before your exam, I would strongly advise against that.
You really don’t want to be wasting your time on making detailed notes when you could be spending that time practising questions that you are going to be tested on the next day.
Notes should be made frequently and not just before (especially before) a major assessment!
Action Point: Do not work on notes the night before an exam if you haven’t made them throughout the year. Just use class notes or textbook as your guide.
10. Not completing homework routinely
You might dismiss your homework as unnecessary but trust me, it is anything but that!
You are assigned homework not because teachers like giving homework (although that might be true to a large extent), but because it is crucial for you to practice the theory you’re taught in 2 Unit Maths!
So, as painful as it, doing your homework will pay you handsomely in the future.
Action Point: Consistently complete your homework so that you can master the theory.
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Mansahaj Kaur completed her HSC in 2015 and now studies Bachelor of Commerce/Laws at USyd. She thinks that English is the most versatile and loveable language on planet Earth and she loves dabbling in anything English related, writing included. But then again, this could be because she hasn’t learnt French or German or Japanese yet. But it’s on her bucket list, mind you! Her desire to learn another language or two is only matched by her passion for eclectic tones and mystery dramas- yes yes, Sherlock, too. She is an avid reader and writer, her favourite series still being Harry Potter, despite her having read numerous renowned classics. Mansahaj likes to think that by becoming a lawyer, she might be able to make a slight, small-as-your-pinkie, teensy difference in the world; but that might be wishful thinking!