How to Succeed in Junior Cert Mathematics
Maths is probably one of the most disputed subject out there for students. It seems you either love it or you hate it. It all depends on how your mind works so unfortunately for some, the kind of thinking required for success in Maths just isn’t there. However, that’s no reason to give up. It’s still doable, it’s just a case of breaking it down topic by topic and really trying to understand the basics. Follow these tips to try and get the best mark that you possibly can!
Practise questions over and over
I think this is the best way to study Maths and it's how I did most of my study for it for the Junior Cert. The more past exam questions that you do, the more familiar you become with the way the SEC asks their questions and you'll be more prepared when the exams come around. The questions might seem totally different to your text book at first but in the end they're just phrased differently so I think it's really important to keep trying the exam questions again and again to familiarise yourself with the paper.
Don't panic if you can't understand the question at first
This happened me a lot whenever I had a Maths exam. I'd look at the question and I'd think "Oh my god I haven't a clue what this means". Just leave it and come back to it later. Most of the time, once I went on and did other questions and got my brain working more, I'd come back to the question I had trouble with and realised that it was something I could answer no problem, I just needed to read it a different way to understand what was being asked of me.
Watch your timing
You'll need all the time you get in this exam so make sure you use it wisely. There are different amounts of marks going for each question so you might need to spend more time on some than others. Luckily, they’ve conveniently put in suggested times to spend on each question in the top right hand corner of the question so you know the maximum time to spend on it and it means you won’t miss out on other questions.
Check your work
You should allow yourself some time at the end of the exam to check over the paper to see if you have any questions left blank or to quickly check your answers in case you made a small mistake that could cost you marks. This happened me quite often, I'd have put in an "-" instead of a "+" or something simple like that and it can make quite a difference to your mark. It would be silly to lose marks on something that you know you could have gotten right so it's really important to look over your work.
Do your homework
Doing your homework is a great method of studying Maths, so don’t neglect it. Even if you fail to do any other form of studying (hopefully this won’t be the case), if you’ve done all your homework throughout the year, you should still be able to do reasonably well. The homework you’re given is to prepare you for the exams really so if you get a question to do at home, it’s really like practising for the exam because a similar question could come up in the exam paper! Do try and practise the exam papers as often as possible though because they tend to phrase the questions differently than in your text book.
Labelling the questions can make the question a lot clearer to you and help simplify it. For example if you're doing an equation from words, label the things they're asking you to equate as "x" and "y" where appropriate so you can visualise what needs to be added/subtracted, etc.
Familiarise yourself with the Log Tables
The Log Tables are your best friend in this exam. They have a lot of the information you need so it's important you know how to use them efficiently. Try to familiarise yourself with what pages each thing you need is on, for example, know what page the area/volume/width equations are one so you won't lose time in the exam trying to find that page.
If you're ever stuck on a question in the exam, try consulting the log tables because a lot of the time they'll have something in them that will help you get your answer, this goes for Paper 2 especially.
Don't leave anything blank/Attempt everything
This is so important for Maths. The marking scheme allows you so much marks for just making some attempt. I was very confident that I had done really badly in my Junior Cert Maths exam but when I got my results, I got an A, and it was all thanks to attempt marks. Even if you think "this can't be right", throw something down because you just never know what will get you marks.
Sometimes, the SEC makes mistakes in their exam papers so they're obliged to give anyone who made an effort marks. In this case, it means even if you just wrote down the number "1", you'll get marks so you really have no reason not to attempt every single question.
Make sure you have everything you need for the exam
This means having a fully functioning compass, ruler, calculator, protractor,
etc. You don't want to end up panicking in the exam because you forgot a piece of equipment. You can buy a full maths set for a reasonable price with everything you need in it in any good newsagent or stationary shop so don't be the person who's franctically trying to borrow off someone else on the morning of the exam! Be prepared.
If you want extra help with individual topics in Maths, we have some really great and helpful resources in the resource box at the bottom of the Maths subject page so I really recommend you check them out.
You could also look on our discussion forum
to see if any other students have any tips or tricks on how to study Maths or ask a question yourself.
Best of luck with the study and the exams!
Eimear and the Studyclix Team :)