Leaving Cert Higher Level Maths Preparation Tips

My approach to Higher Level Maths

The author got 97.5% in his Higher Level Maths paper in 2017.

Break down the question into its parts

With the advent of Project Maths, students are required to draw on multiple sets of skills learned from the course to solve a single question. Many face the obstacle of de-compartmentalising their knowledge of maths and drawing from a broad range of skills rather than an orderly series of chapters. From my own experience, the initial approach to a question often determined the success of the question itself. If you attempt to tackle a problem as a whole, then it can come across more daunting than it actually is. To look at a problem in its composite parts and approaching each part as its own individual obstacle allows you to view the problem itself in a more regimented fashion.

Leaving Cert Higher Level Maths Preparation Tips

Practice basic algebra

Breaking down a question is a skill in itself however the executions of the skills learned during the course are still what get the marks in the exams. It is easier said than done eliminating small mistakes, yet often if you slow down in the initial solving of a question, then a lot of these small mistakes will disappear and recover valuable marks. Initially taking time doing questions will push you past the allocated time for that question in an exam, however with practice both speed and accuracy will improve. It is impossible to stress enough the importance of practicing basic algebra regularly, it is a skill that is earned and can be lost without regular practice. It is key to solving the majority of LC questions and understanding the mechanics of algebra will lead to an understanding of the greater theory behind each question.

Don't miss out on easy marks from theorems and derivations

Another key to getting as many marks as possible in the exam is taking any gift that the SEC is willing to give you, usually in the form of a theorem or derivation, or even a method of solving a question that merely requires simple substitution into a pre-learned formula. I am always surprised at how many people don’t take advantage of these things. Yes, they are only a small percentage of the overall final grade, yet it is these easy marks that often distinguish students who are on the borderline of achieving a higher grade. Two examples of this came up in last year’s paper, both the “completing the square” method of solving a quadratic equation and the derivation of the amortization formula were potentially very easy and quick marks to obtain. However, many students ignored these as the risk of them showing up was, in their eyes, disproportionate to the potential reward, and now in September, many are searching for those easy marks that could have been.

The twenty five bonus points make it all worthwhile

However infamous Higher Maths has become, it is important to remember that often the ork put into the subject does allow anyone to get a higher grade and avail of the 25 extra points that only Higher Maths offers.

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