# Any handy maths tricks in papers 1, 2 or 3....

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• 4 weeks later...

yep maths hl is seeming like a complete epic fail for me. The textbook we use is the haese and harris; its okay but it doesnt seem to help with actual exam questions. questions in the exams are sooooooo difficult, i cant seem to get the hang of what they are asking for. Its especially difficult on the structured answers in Section B, as if you cant get the initial parts, you wont be able to get the rest of the marks. any tips from anyone would be great; regarding exam technique, revision techniques- anything! thanks nametaken for putting this thread!

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• 2 weeks later...

yep maths hl is seeming like a complete epic fail for me. The textbook we use is the haese and harris; its okay but it doesnt seem to help with actual exam questions. questions in the exams are sooooooo difficult, i cant seem to get the hang of what they are asking for. Its especially difficult on the structured answers in Section B, as if you cant get the initial parts, you wont be able to get the rest of the marks. any tips from anyone would be great; regarding exam technique, revision techniques- anything! thanks nametaken for putting this thread!

I agree with what you said about section B. That's where it all starts to go horribly wrong for me as well. :/

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Well, I'm doing Math HL at the moment, studying is fine, we are finishing the option which is sequences, series,... I think the key is to practice a lot, get used to the type of questions and really understand the basic MAXIMS which would allow you to make deductive reasonings to solve those questions that look unfamiliar

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• 2 weeks later...

When in doubt, use a creative substitution.

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The method uses your right hand. (Lefties, you'll have an advantage here: you can write down answers while you're looking at your hand.) With your palm facing you, count off the basic reference angles, starting with your thumb: 0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, and 90°. To find a trig value, you'll lower the finger corresponding to that angle, keeping your palm facing you. For the sine value, you'll take the square root of the number of fingers to the right of the lowered finger, and divide by 2; for the cosine value, you'll take the square root of the number of fingers to the left of the lowered finger, and divide by 2; for the tangent, you'll divide the number of fingers to the left by the number to the right.

for the tangent one, you mean sqrt of no of fingers?

thank you VERY much btw!! this is very helpful

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My maths teacher seemed exceptionally keen to push the idea that, rather than doing the exam in a linear fashion (go from front to back, like we were taught to in previous qualifications like GCSEs), go through the paper at the start of the exam and choose the questions you know you always get points on. For example, I find that I always get the sequences/series questions correct, so he said to go straight to them and score points quickly. Similarly, on Paper 2 you might skip straight to the questions where you sketch a grap with asymptotes and that sort of thing, because they're easier. Apparently this technique works because the grade boundaries are so low. Anyway, that works for Section A for Papers 1 & 2, according to my teacher...

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• 2 months later...

I don't take HL maths, but the same teacher teaches me as the HLers. Pretty obvious stuff, but for those who are scared about Section B questions -- if you don't know a or b, but know the stuff after that, make an educated guess and use that answer for the other sub-questions. You can only get one point off for a follow-through mistake, and whatever it is you lost for and b, but at least you'll have everything else!

Edited by Where Love Died Laughing
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Learn everything you can do with your GDC off by heart, so you don't waste time playing around with it in the exam. Stuff like Binom/poisson/normal pdf and cdf, forgot to learn it for the mocks...

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• 2 months later...

First thing you need to keep in mind about Maths HL, is that it is not as difficult as you might think. Given it is not easy compared to many other subjects, but Maths HL can have the tendency to scare people into bad grades. That being said, it is also the only subject where theory alone isn't enough. For example, in the experimental sciences, you can drill all the formulas and methods into your head, and you should be fine. It would of course be better if you understand the concepts behind these ideas, but you get my drift. In Maths HL however, you need to understand the concept, or you won't get anywhere. This means laying a very strong foundation, and then building your maths skills on top of that. To do this the only remedy, I'm sorry to say, is as many questions as possible. You will see, at one point you will know every trick behind any question they can throw at you, and with such a solid base, it will be far easier to move on into more advanced mathematics if you choose to do so.

That is the ideal way of getting a good grade in Maths. If however, you find yourself with only 2 weeks left before the exams, I suggest focusing almost completely on the subjects you do not understand properly for 80% of the time, and save 20% of the remaining time to refresh your memory on what you do know. A trick that has worked for me before, is waking up early in the morning, and then cramming right before the test. The questions and concepts tend to stay fresh in your mind. Although you will never get a 7 with this method, you can definitely squeeze out a 4 or 5 depending on how much previous knowledge you had.

Also, as a side-note, I use the pearson baccalaureate Maths HL book, and it is one of the best out there, except for the occasional mistake in the answer book.

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• 3 months later...

When in doubt, use a creative substitution.

I thought that said "when in doubt, use a creative substratum [of logic]". I guess what I've learnt from my experiences so far is don't panic, and ask for extra paper if you need it - don't cram your paper into a small corner of the page.

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Learn the functions of your calculator like it is a part of your textbook. It will get you out of many questions that you can't solve on your own.

The TI-Nspire CX, for example, has a function available in test mode nsolve(). It will solve any entire function for x. The specific calculator is also great because it's full keyboard and digital screen allow me to type everything quickly and revise and review quickly as well. It was definitely worth the extra cost over a TI-XX and they are not even expensive anymore if purchased used from eBay, etc.

The commands available for graphs are phenomenal too. Patterns are more visible and it's speedier in general, saving precious seconds to minutes on the actual exam. You may be surprised at how many questions can be answered or at least made simple by graphing them and using the calculator's various analysis tools.

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- Like one of the posters said, you don't have to always try to find a crazy long way to answer a question, see if any techniques you learned in class and while practicing at home will work on the question, because they usually should, and try to avoid making up rules that you are not certain of

- Make sure you know the formulas 100%, I kept on forgetting one tiny part of a formula and that cost me quite a bit of points on a major quiz

- If you feel like you are stuck or that your solving will lead to nothing or that you strongly doubt your answer, instead of wasting time thinking about it, skip to the next questions, come back to that question when you're done and by then you might be able to easily find your mistake (for instance writing down a formula incorrectly like me or a very simple miscalculation or missing out a variable in an expression). This saved me today in my Unit Test

- If you prove an identity, try to find similarities between what you are given and what it is apparently equal to, and you cannot work on both sides at the same time or you will lose marks (something else that I learned the hard way)

- Reread the question if you must, or even if you don't think you have to, there might be a word that can completely change how you're supposed to solve the question

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• 1 year later...

Some of your best friends when you get stuck in algebra manipulation:

The a^2 - b^2 identity:

(x^2 + y^2)/(x - yi) --> (x + yi)(x - yi)/(x - yi) --> x + yi

where i is the imaginary constant

Adding a 1 (or extracting a 1) to (/from) the fraction:

4a + 6b + (-11b^2 - 8ab)/2b --> (8ab + 12b^2 - 11b^2 - 8ab)/2b --> b/2

Trigonometric identities:

(sin a cos 2a)/cos a + sin 2a

= (sin a cos 2a + sin 2a cos a) / cos a

= sin 3a / cos a

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Everything is okay for me but paper 3 man... calculus...

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• 1 month later...

A great exam technique I learned is that in papers 1 and 2 (not sure about 3), there's exactly 120 marks per paper. That means you can time yourself really easily by giving yourself a minute per mark.

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• 2 months later...

For me, I do all homework and class works everyday!

I think to be good at Maths, you have to do a lot of practice questions

and adopt knowledge and methods which you have learned in class to different types of questions.

Always participate in class, and do not hesitate to ask your teacher if you don't understand in class.

Don't panic when you get difficult questions, just skip to the questions which you can you first.

Before my mock, I just go through all questions I have done in class and revise past paper 2009-2013.

So I managed to get 7 in Math HL. Good luck!

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• 2 weeks later...

My maths teacher seemed exceptionally keen to push the idea that, rather than doing the exam in a linear fashion (go from front to back, like we were taught to in previous qualifications like GCSEs), go through the paper at the start of the exam and choose the questions you know you always get points on. For example, I find that I always get the sequences/series questions correct, so he said to go straight to them and score points quickly. Similarly, on Paper 2 you might skip straight to the questions where you sketch a grap with asymptotes and that sort of thing, because they're easier. Apparently this technique works because the grade boundaries are so low. Anyway, that works for Section A for Papers 1 & 2, according to my teacher...

We were suggested to do this too. The method has pros and cons though. The main advantage is that you don't waste much time in the initial stages of the paper but as you move back to the questions you've skipped you find yourself going through continuous topics you considered yourself not too confident about and that can be a heavy blow.

As to my personal tips and tricks; I learned the formula booklet (almost) by heart so as not to waste time referring back to it. Mainly I try not to think too much about my areas of weakness.

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