Maths

12

min read

In this post, we're going to find out, by looking at the absolute best and most effective revision tips that you can put into practise to give you the confidence to smash your exams and get an A* in your maths A level.

Imagine it's the day of your first A level maths exam. You're feeling confident and at ease, knowing that whatever comes up, you're going to smash it. But how did you get to this point?

Or how can someone who has the time to prepare, no matter what grade they're currently working at, make this a reality?

In this post, we're going to find out, by looking at the absolute best and most effective revision tips that you can put into practise to give you the confidence to smash your exams and get an A* in your maths A level.

- Forget About Memorisation at First
- Use Online Resources to Aid Your Understanding
- Get Comfortable With Your Calculator
- Master Algebra
- Use a Retrospective Revision Timetable
- Use an SRS to Memorise Formulae
- Follow Along With Youtubers Doing Past Papers
- Use a Productivity Timer
- Focus on the Hardest Questions
- Use the Syllabus as a Checklist

It's important that, while you're learning your course, it's much more effective to focus on understanding instead of memorisation. Understanding and memorisation go hand in hand, but understanding is definitely the more difficult thing to master. Understanding also aids memorisation - once you understand how to apply something you'll have a much easier time remembering it.

When testing yourself, don't ask - what is the integration by parts formula? Instead, ask - can I apply the integration by parts formula to this integral? Once you understand how to use something, the hard work is done, as memorisation can be achieved easily (as we'll see later in the post).

Sure you're being taught the entirety of the syllabus by your teacher, but using online resources to supplement your learning is a brilliant way to help your understanding. Here are some of our favourite online resources:

- AITutor: We offer an A level course that'll take you through the whole syllabus and test you consistently throughout
- TLMaths: A fantastic maths teacher on Youtube who has videos covering the entire A Level maths specification
- Physics and Maths Tutor: This website has model solutions for ALL past paper and textbook questions
- Exam Solutions: Another great resource with videos covering every topic and with video solutions to all past paper questions
- A Level Maths Revision: A great website with revision notes on every A level maths topic
- Khan Academy: A website, not specific to A level maths, but with some great videos covering content that appears throughout the qualification

You want to go into your exam knowing your way around your calculator like the back of your hand. This will help you save time in your exam and also reduce some of the stress you might feel when sitting it.

Not sure you're up to scratch with all the things you need to be able to do on your calculator during the exam? Check out the video below!

How To Use Your Calculator In A Level Maths

If there’s one area of A-Level mathematics that you’re guaranteed to be tested on in pretty much every question, it’s algebra. This is because almost all of the maths at A Level uses algebra in some shape or form.

Calculating SUVAT variables for projectiles in kinematics? You’d better know your quadratic equations. Need to find the mean and standard deviation of a normal distribution from a given probability? You’ll need to use your simultaneous equations skills.

Algebra is used everywhere so if you want to get ahead you better put your skills into practice! The algebra section of the OCR syllabus takes up a whopping seven pages all by itself!

Not feeling too confident in your algebra skills? The video below from 00:01:00 to 01:07:11 covers everything you need to know!

Traditionally, students create prospective revision timetables in the lead up to their exam, planning what they are going to revise weeks (or sometimes months) in advance.

The retrospective revision timetable works instead by deciding what you are going to revise based on how confident you are in certain topics at the time. You prioritise topics you feel less confident in, repeating this process until you feel confident in them all.

This is much more effective than a traditional revision timetable, as how are you meant to know how much time you are going to need for certain topics before you've even started revising?

Ali Abdaal has a great video explaining them in more detail and how to create them, which you can check out below.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that traditional methods students use for revision, such as rereading notes, highlighting important information and summarising topics, are inefficient and don’t have much of an effect on improving students performance in exams.

Luckily, there are some proven methods that have been shown to improve students performance in exams.

One of these methods is known as active recall, described by Wikipedia as “a principle of efficient learning, which claims the need to actively stimulate memory during the learning process. It contrasts with passive review, in which the learning material is processed passively (e.g. by reading, watching, etc.)”.

The ability to recall something after we learn it declines over time. This is known as the 'forgetting curve'. For our brains to retain this information, we need to recall the information in our minds periodically.

What's interesting is that, the longer gap we leave between trying to recall the information, the more likely we are to remember it in the future. In essence, by gradually increasing the time period between when we last recalled a piece of information and when we next try to recall it, we decrease the decline in the forgetting curve.

But how can you actually put this into practise?

One of the ways we can employ this strategy is by using a spaced-repetition system (SRS) like the flashcard app Anki. Anki is free for desktop and Android, but costs on the iOS store (although you can use it on your iOS browser for free).

Anki works by creating groups of flashcards, known as decks, containing pieces of information we want to memorise. Each flashcard has a front and back, when we are shown the front of the flashcard, we need to try and recall the back.

Once we have created our deck, all of the technical details, like when we need to try and recall a flashcard, are handled by Anki. You can find a free deck for A level maths here, which has all the formulae you need for A level maths.

By spending about 5-10 minutes each day using spaced repetition, you should be able to memorise all the flashcards in the deck above in a matter of weeks!

Another proven revision technique is practice testing, which in maths translates to practising past papers under exam conditions.

In A level maths, much more so than in other subjects, past papers are the king of revision. This is the absolute best way to prepare yourself for your exams.

But if initially you're not feeling confident enough to practise past papers on your own, try attempting alongside one of our Youtube videos, where Paddy will take you through an entire past paper from start to finish, detailing his thinking process so you can see how to absolutely smash a past paper and achieve full marks.

Check out the playlist below.

You can find the past papers for all exam boards here.

You can find past paper questions by topic here.

Note that as a premium AITutor member, you will have access to unlimited, exam board specific auto-marking past papers with fully worked solutions and time analytics.

So you've set aside some time for your revision but you end up scrolling through Tik Tok for half of it. The solution to this problem?

Use a productivity timer!

A productivity timer allows us to 'lock' apps on a phone for a certain period of time. How to do this depends on what phone you have.

For iPhone users, you can use Screen Time to limit apps for a certain duration. This is located in the Settings app.

Android has a similar feature, known as Digital Wellbeing, also found in the settings. You can use this to restrict app limits in the same way as on the iPhone.

If you need something similar for your desktop, you can install the Self Control Chrome Plugin, which you can use to keep focused by blocking sites that you spend too much time on.

You can also find alternatives to all these apps here.

Put these on during your revision period to stop yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media!

So you've hit the past papers and your revision is going rather well. But you keep getting stuck on the very hardest questions. So what should you do?

AITutor to the rescue! We have a series on Youtube called 'Disgusting A Level Maths Questions', where Paddy will guide you through the toughest and most disgusting A level maths questions known to man.

If you'd like to see more of these, let us know in the comments!

After you have all your formulas memorised and have started attempting past papers, have a look at your exam board's syllabus to make sure there's no gaps in your knowledge.

This is a great way to ensure you're not caught out anywhere in your exam, as exam boards love to sneak a question in that hasn't appeared for a few years.

As an AITutor premium member, you have access to our interactive syllabus, which allows you to see which questions relate to which parts of the syllabus. You can use this not only as a checklist but also to find the hardest questions that you haven’t attempted yet!

That's all the tips we have for you today!

Have any other proven A level maths revision tips you think we've missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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