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Preparation for the HSC Examination

Bobby Gaensler - Professional Officer, Mathematical Association of NSW

  1. Rule Book:
    At this stage, you should have your own personal rule book. It may have only a skeleton of topics and essential formulae to be rote learned. It may be a summary of the course, with a typical worked example that your teacher did in class. Both types are sold commercially, but nothing will replace your own.

  2. Use your travelling time to rote learn any formulae still unknown.

  3. Practise writing neatly and fluently. it is not too late to improve the way your work reads. (Remember that marks may be deducted for careless or badly arranged work.) The examiners mark quickly, and it is to your advantage to communicate well.

    Try writing out your solutions on every second line (i.e. leave a line between each line of working). This allows you to put a correction above the original. You are not limited to the number of books used per question under HSC examination conditions.

  4. Mathematics can only be studied well by doing questions:
    • Make up a realistic study timetable.
    • Put mathematics early in the evening.
    • Don't spend the whole evening on the one problem.
    • Make a list of all the topics.
    • Do each topic briefly, e.g. every 5th exercise in every second set of questions.
    • Do "Practice Papers" in the textbook.
    • Do the 300 questions at the back of the textbook (no matter how easy you may think some of them are).
    • Prepare for the examination you know you are going to get, not for the one you would like to see. Look at past HSC papers and Trial papers.
    • Do past Trial HSC papers from your school and others. (Start at the most recent year and work backwards).
    • Do past HSC papers. Copies of papers 1988 - 1998 (and even 1975 - 1987) with worked solutions are available commercially. Read the question. Identify which branch of mathematics is involved. Reread the question, write down what you know, what you need to find. If you are blank about how to proceed, look up texts or notes to find something similar. Use this as a guide.
    • Do some papers under exam conditions and time.
    • Remember Other Subjects.
    • Mathematics is a doing (not reading) subject. Formulae are learnt by doing, not reciting.
    • If possible, visit the exam centre, if unfamiliar to you, well in advance.
    • Be early.


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