There’s a dark cloud looming. It’s already April and the AS and A2 maths exams are unusually early this year.

So, the question is, what can you do to revise effectively without driving yourself crazy? Here are my top three tips for getting on top of the material rather than bogged down in it.

1. Work through past papers

Every past paper you do makes you that bit more familiar with the way the exam is structured, the way the questions are worded, the kinds of things they ask you to do.

You don’t need to do them under exam conditions! It may even be better for you to work with an open textbook, Wolfram Alpha at the ready, no time limit and your J.S. Bach on your headphones. Exam conditions practice is useful, but it’s not the main thing when you’re revising.

You also get a confidence boost as you go along: if you do step 2 consistently, your scores should improve dramatically.

2. Laser focus on your weaknesses… and remove them

Once you’ve done a paper and marked it, you’ll be able to see where you’ve dropped marks. If there are questions where you’ve lost many marks - or, worse yet, not managed to start - you should get hold of your textbook and read through the relevant chapter. Do the exercises. Ask your teacher for help. Ask me.

But what if it’s a more fundamental problem? What if you find that you’ve lost eight marks - enough to drop you a grade - through misplaced minus signs? What if it’s a problem based on not getting an earlier topic?

In that case, you’ve got two options: firstly, you can go back to the textbook for the module containing the thing you’re struggle with. If it’s something more involved, it’s going to be more of a ‘write your own questions’ thing.

3. Do something every day

It’s very easy to fall into a pattern of doing all of your maths homework the day before your class, by which time you’ve forgotten everything that came up in class. In that case, you may as well not be there.

Instead, you want to do at least a little bit every day. There’s a story of Jerry Seinfeld buying a calendar and writing a cross over every day he wrote new material - you can do the same with your maths works. Whether you spend three hours poring over every comma in a paper, or twenty minutes copying up your notes, you get to cross off the day.

You’ll be surprised how much more effective a little bit every day is than trying to do it all at once - you retain more information and you end up saving time and effort.

Which is what it’s all about, isn’t it?


What are your best revision tips? Tell me in the comments below!