On Twitter, @tessmaths asks:
What's the thing you will do in the last lesson before GCSE maths exam this week? #mathsTLP— Tess Maths (@tessmaths) May 31, 2015
… which is such a good question, it would be rude not to answer. Here’s what I’ll be doing with my GCSE students this week, and what I’d recommend to anyone looking for last-minute revision tips.
1. Review basic arithmetic
Make sure you know how to divide and multiply. That includes whole numbers, fractions and decimals. You will need these skills in the non-calculator paper, and there’s no sense in dropping easy marks.
2. Shore up on common errors
You know the kind of thing. The Mathematical Zombies. Things like saying $(x+y)^2 = x^2 + y^2$. Things like putting the upper bound as .4 rather than .5. Things like misusing Pythagoras by forgetting to square root the answer, or ending up with a leg that’s longer than a hypotenuse.
I recommend getting hold of a QI-style buzzer and using it with abandon.
3. Review things that are bound to come up
There’s going to be some factorising. There’s going to be some tricky powers. There’s going to be a difference of two squares. There’s going to be a circle theorems question. Review a few of these just to make sure they’re familiar.
4. Discuss where to start when you don’t know where to start
This is a particular issue with wordy questions and with proofs – so outline a few strategies for getting going. (Write down what you know. Think about what you can do with what you’re given. Try a few paths, don’t worry whether they’re the ‘right’ path.)
5. Remember exam technique
Make sure you manage your time properly – if a question is taking too long, put a star by it and come back at the end if you have time. Make sure you pick up all the cheap marks before you spend time on the expensive ones!
Make sure you write something down even if you’re not sure it’s right.
Don’t be afraid of bluffing a proof – if you’ve got something close to the right answer, write the right answer below it and pretend it’s obvious.
If you have time, check your work: is the answer sensible? Does it actually work? Can you do it another way to make sure?
What are your favourite last-minute revision hacks to make sure you pick up every available mark?
A selection of other posts
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