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How to pass Year 12 Further Maths

Maths – we use it every day. Of all the maths taught in Year 12, Further Mathematics has the most general application to the maths we use in everyday life.

Further Mathematics provides general preparation for employment or further study, in particular, where data analysis is important. It also has an emphasis on the study of statistics.

But like all Year 12 subjects, there is pressure to achieve your best.

From ensuring you read and understand exam questions, to knowing shortcuts and tricks on your calculator, here are five tips from Luther College Year 12 Further Mathematics teacher Brett Newton, to help you get the best VCE study score possible.

Answer the question asked

A general pattern that I’ve noticed, over years of assessing student work, is that many times we see some wonderful mathematics and very creative problem solving. Unfortunately not all of the mathematics is applicable to the question that has actually been asked. Whenever you finish answering a question, go back and re-read it.

Check to see if your answer actually answers the question asked – and that it makes sense! Is your answer of appropriate magnitude? Is it in the correct units? Is it even possible? Also check:

  • What ‘style’ of question was I asked?
  • Was I asked to write a calculation?
  • Was I asked to use a recurrence relation?
  • How many decimal places/significant figures were required?
  • Did I use the answer in a way that ‘shows’ or ‘proves’ the solution to that question?

Answer these as though you don’t know the answer! Also, it’s NEVER wrong.

''Check to see if your answer actually answers the question asked – and that it makes sense! ''

Brett Newton, Year 12 Further Mathematics teacher.,
Luther College

Read the examiner’s report

The examiner’s report – which is prepared by the chief assessor and provides feedback on student performance in past examinations, can be found on the VCAA website, and is definitely worth a read.

As a general rule of thumb, any concept or skills that was not done well the previous year can be expected to re-appear on the current year’s exam. The examiner’s report will both highlight these concepts and provide insight into the common mistakes and errors made. This can help you to plan your revision carefully and enable you to focus on key areas. It is also worth noting that any concept or skill that has not been examined in recent years is likely to pop up soon!

Don’t rely on your notes

I know, I know. You have a bound book of notes in each exam. But ask yourself this: ‘Would you rather spend your hour and a half working? Or looking up rules and formulae?’

The bound reference is an incredibly useful resource to have, but the most benefit comes in the actual preparation and production of YOUR notes. Your reference should provide a ‘cheat-sheet’ for the things you have been struggling with over the year, so it is much more beneficial to tailor it to your own individual needs.

Past experience has shown that you should only need about 20 pages or so of notes, focussing specifically on the areas that you have struggled with during the year and/or examples of the more fiddly processes such as ‘deseasonalising data’.

Know your calculator

Another great time saver is your CAS calculator. If you know how to use it.

Spend some time getting to know the shortcuts and tips available. For example, how to find the fraction template, how to construct appropriately scaled graphs, solve equations etc.

It seems basic, but many students come into Further Maths not having really used their CAS calculator in previous years, so have to play catch-up during the year.

Practice, practice, practice

And finally, practice.

It’s not pretty, it’s not always fun, but it is necessary.

Do as many past/practice exams as you can find. Read the solutions. Model your working on them. Learn the scripts for interpretation questions. Look for key words that repeat each year.

And always RTFQ (Read The Full Question).

Are you thinking about your options after Year 12? Check out our course and career search tool Explore to find some inspiration.

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