5 Mathematics Tips & 5 Most Common Mistakes: Learn How To Score Higher Grades in Maths

Here are 5 tips on how to score well in your Mathematics exams and tests:

#1 Practice, practice and more practice!
Mathematics can’t be based on just memorising formulae or reading. Each problem has its own characteristics and must be tackled in a unique way.

Practice is the only way to be sure you will know what to do. In Mathematics, there is no escape from the need to do lots of Mathematics questions, so that you understand how to answer them.

#2 Write down all the steps/working
Examination marking includes marks for method (M). Accuracy marks (A) can only be awarded if the relevant method marks (M) have been earned.
In other words, a correct answer will receive zero marks if the working is not shown clearly.

Remember to write down all the workings of every solution.

#3 Take care about how the final solution is displayed
Always read questions very carefully and make sure you understand exactly what the question is asking you to do – and then do it!

Be very careful when you are writing solutions to use the value or format that is stated in the question – significant figures, decimal places,
exact values etc. Giving the wrong form of the solution will mean you lose accuracy marks (A).

#4 Check the validity of the solutions
Not all solutions are the final answer, as there may be a condition in the question or concept. For example in logarithms, only certain values are acceptable.

Solutions that are not valid need to be rejected in order to earn full marks.

#5 Double-check your work
Algebra calculation errors are very common. One wrong digit or sign will lead to many marks being lost. To reduce this error, double-check all your working and your solution.

Watch out for these 5 common mistakes in your answers:

 #1 (A+B)²= A²+ B²

This is a common mistake among students. They tend to square the terms individually.

The correct answer is (A+B)²=(A+B)(A+B) which gives A²+2AB+B².

#2 The solution for ax²= b where a and b are constants

Example question: x²= 4. The common mistake is x=2. There are two possibilities because 2²=4 or (-2)²=4.

So when solving an even power question there will be positive and negative solutions. The correct answer is x=±2.

#3 The set of answers for quadratic inequality

Example question: x² > 4. The common mistake is x>±2 where students did not sketch a graph to determine the range of the solution.

For all quadratic inequalities, a graph is needed. Sketching a graph shows clearly that the correct answer is x<-2 or x>2.

#4 The angle unit for trigonometry questions (radian / degree)

Be cautious when a trigonometry question asks about an angle unit.

Remember to change the mode of the calculator according to the question. This will lead to different solutions.

#5 (x² y² )=(x² )×(y²

Students often confuse this with √(x² y² )=√(x² )×√(y²).

If you check this using numbers √(5²+2²) is not equal to √(5²)+√(2²). Therefore the correct answer is √(x²±y²)≠√(x²)±√(y²).

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