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5 Challenges in Further Mathematics

Focusing while studying. It can be difficult at times to focus on mathematics but there are a few things that can be done to help:

  1. Aim to complete a certain amount of work (e.g. a certain number of practice questions), rather than allotting a timeframe.
  2. Try to find a quiet place to study.
  3. Try to remove distractions from your study area.

Keeping a clear head during the exam. Exams can be stressful and it is difficult to perform well when you are not thinking straight. There are some strategies to help with this:

  1. Complete practice exams under timed conditions. This will make exam conditions feel more familiar and less stressful.
  2. Ensure you sleep well the night before. Try to get into a good sleeping schedule in the weeks leading up to the exam.

Understanding how concepts relate to one another. The more difficult exam questions to study for are those that connect multiple concepts together. Knowing how concepts relate can also aid in your understanding. There are some strategies to aid with this:

  1. Look for different explanations of the same concepts. There are multiple ways of understanding a concept, relying on different assumed knowledge.
  2. Try to find alternative ways of solving, or explaining, practice questions. Past exam questions often have many solutions available online, with differing approaches.
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Knowing what to study. Further mathematics has a lot of question types and concepts to cover. It can be difficult to prioritise what to study. There are some strategies to help:

  1. When completing practice exams, assignments, etc. take note of questions types or concepts you struggle with. Prioritise studying these.
  2. Much of Further Mathematics is formulaic. As such, practice questions are generally the best use of your time.
  3. Complete a practice exam under timed conditions and take note of how long it takes to complete each question. If it takes more than ~1.5 minutes per mark, you should practice these question types more.

Balancing Further Mathematics with other subjects. Balancing subjects can be tricky. There are some things to keep in mind when deciding how much time to devote to Further Mathematics (and your other subjects):

  1. Keep in mind what you are good at. If you breeze through your mathematics tests and assignments but struggle in other subjects, you may wish to use less time on Further Mathematics compared to other subjects. Conversely, if you struggle with mathematics, you may need to devote more time to Further Mathematics compared to other subjects.
  2. Even if you find Further Mathematics easy compared to your other subjects, you should still devote time regularly to studying it. Regular study, even if it is just an hour or two every few days will do a lot more to help memorise concepts and how to approach Further Mathematics than last minute study will.
  3. Further Mathematics has a lot of overlap with other mathematics subjects. As such, if you take multiple mathematics subjects, you may be able to study for both subjects at once, making better use of your time.