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

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### #1 nametaken Posted Dec 24, 2011 - 18:03

nametaken

Rolling back prices to 1969

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I'd love it if you could share some tips and tricks for papers 1, 2 and 3. I'm at a stage where maths is kinda worrying me. I'm on my holiday break right now, but when I get back to school, my teacher's getting us to do all the papers to 'give us a chance to get higher predicted grades' for our uni applications. He's also said that if we don't manage to get at least a 4/5 overall, he'll enter us for the standard level maths paper which I really, really, really don't want and can't afford at all. As the dreaded may exams are inching closer (four months to go!), the worry's slowly consuming me.

So, I thought about perhaps starting a thread where we could somehow gather a sort of guide on the types of tricks someone could use in the papers. There might be paper specific tips, or just general tips. Tips on how to memorise key values or other bits for paper 1, or how to do better in paper 2. It doesn't matter,as long as it's helpful. My hope is that this also helps others like me,who aren't as great when it comes to sitting maths exams.

For example, I've discovered a way to memorise the special angles which to me is useful. I posted it as a status update not too long ago, but in case anyone's missed it, here it is:

"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 right by the square root of fingers to the left."

nametaken.

Edited by timtamboy63, Mar 19, 2012 - 15:01.
Fixed the tan

### #2 kiwi.at.heart Posted Dec 24, 2011 - 22:59

kiwi.at.heart

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One of the most important things I found was when you were doing a exam, was to remember that every question has to be doable with the content you have learnt. Even the weirdest questions have to be solvable with something you have done in class. So make sure you know the basic concepts of everything really well, usually by doing practice question, but then know what you know. For example, nearly every year they try to through in a horrendous vector question, but there is only so much you can do with vectors so if you are solid with the basics, what looked like an impossible question becomes possible by eliminating all that you know you cant do with it, so that your only option for solving the question is the one left over. Its not going to work every time, but when you come to the end of the exam and there is nothing left that you feel you know how to solve, it can often help get the last few of marks to improve your grade.

Edited by kiwi.at.heart, Dec 26, 2011 - 13:18.

### #3 Caaaaaake Posted Jan 18, 2012 - 22:24

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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!

### #4 nametaken Posted Jan 31, 2012 - 16:43

nametaken

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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. :/

### #5 -_- Posted Jan 31, 2012 - 17:42

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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

### #6 Dinstruction Posted Feb 10, 2012 - 00:24

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When in doubt, use a creative substitution.

### #7 Desy Glau Posted Feb 10, 2012 - 12:41

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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

### #8 Chaza65 Posted Feb 14, 2012 - 18:52

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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...

### #9 Where Love Died Laughing Posted May 01, 2012 - 15:02

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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, May 01, 2012 - 15:04.

### #10 Ollie Posted May 01, 2012 - 15:06

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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...

### #11 Sammytheindi Posted Jul 12, 2012 - 14:45

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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.

### #12 flinquinnster Posted Oct 27, 2012 - 02:40

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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.

### #13 Nrsander Posted Nov 02, 2012 - 04:27

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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.

### #14 Meat Posted Nov 07, 2012 - 19:04

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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