A few months back I asked all the exam boards if they could share the most common exam mistakes made by candidates, common exam blind spots or pot holes. I did ask for trade secrets, nor what was going to be in the Geology GCSE paper, nor how to out fox the wily examiner through stealth and cunning. Just some common sense, helpfulness.
Two months later, the MATHS team at AQA kindly shared their top ten tips shared with their customers. Thanks you.
10 tips for sitting maths exams
Italicised tips have cross subject application.
There are lots of questions on the paper, if you can’t do one don’t panic.
Check if your answer is realistic. Can a second hand car cost £7 million? Does the earth
weigh 4kg? If the answer doesn’t seem right you could have made a simple error.
If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes on a question, leave it and come back. As a rough
guide, think about “one mark per minute”, though don’t obsessively worry about
If you can’t do part of a question, check the other parts before moving on.
Parts are usually independent, so if you can’t answer (a) you might be able to do (b).
Re-read the question after you’ve answered it and check you’ve done all that was
asked. You’d be surprised how many students do lots of credit worthy work, then
calculate an area when a perimeter was asked for, or give an answer in cm when the
question wanted metres.
If you’re stuck, just think about the maths that might be relevant and write something
down. Identifying the key information in the question can help. In questions worth multiple
marks, early marks can be scored for relatively simple steps, like rearranging an equation.
Translated – get an answer down. No missed questions. They is no fewer marks for guessing and getting it wrong, than by not answering.
Make sure you clearly cross through any work you don’t want marked. If there are two
solutions, one right and one wrong, the examiner might not be able to give you full credit. – This is a great tip for Maths.
Remember there’s a formulae sheet at the start of the paper.
For the calculator paper(s), use a calculator you are familiar with, and know the functions.
Use all the time you have. When you have finished, go through the paper and check all
your work. Make sure you have completed every question you can and try and make an
attempt at every question in the paper. Even if you cannot complete a question, you may
pick up some marks for making a start.
Add CUSTARD to this series of top tips for a little extra sweetness.