Learning Math Exam Techniques


Maths exam questions are as much about technique as they are about knowledge and understanding. Knowing how to answer the question, what elements provide the most marks, and how those marks are broken down are all key elements to doing well in an exam. Also important is knowing what subjects are most likely to be included and the form that the different questions may take. Having this information supports revision and reduces stress and fear of the unknown. These are both areas that maths past papers, including those with completed answers, can be of enormous help.

Using Maths Past Papers To Understand Subjects

One of the main areas of concern for children approaching their exams is knowing what will be included in the papers that they sit. If the first maths exam questions the child sees are when they are faced with their mock exam, then this can become a huge barrier to success. The first thing that children and their parents need to remember is that only subjects that have been covered in the school syllabus will appear on the exam paper. While schools do not teach to the test, the test cannot include aspects that are not covered by the school curriculum. While it may not narrow the field down much, it does give you a starting point – the school curriculum. Using this you can focus more on areas and subjects where the additional practice is needed. 

If time has been missed from school, and areas of knowledge are missing then there are other ways of finding out what you need, and getting the supporting materials required. The best way to do this is by accessing past maths exam questions by topic. Using past papers, particularly gaining access to several from different years provides an excellent basis for determining the subjects that are likely to be covered and how those questions may be presented. Recognising exam questions for what they are, is just as important as understanding the basics. After all, if the child doesn’t recognize how to solve the question then the key skills they have will not be properly utilized.

Mark Scheme Understanding 

Exams are like many other aspects of life; it is not enough to have the information and skills, you must know how to use them effectively. In terms of exams, this is about knowing how the questions are marked, how the answers are weighted, and what additional workings out should be shown for added marks. Of course, if you can answer the questions you will pass, but to pass well you need this extra level of understanding. 

You can access past papers and sample papers, which you can carry out in test conditions at your school desk. These papers can be used as a revision tool, beginning at any time in the school year. And when it comes to learning exam techniques, sooner is always better. While blank papers are helpful, unless you have access to the answers, or are confident in your maths, ensuring your child is going in the right direction is tricky. 

Having access to such materials means that your child can attempt even the hardest questions, and then check their answers. Where these provide working out details and a breakdown of the marking scheme, children can see where the marks and the extra marks can be found.

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