If you’re sitting your first AS-level maths modules next week, you’re probably in one of two camps about Core 1:

• The not-worried camp, thinking “I’ll just wing it - I understood most of the stuff from last term, so I should be OK”
• The frenzied panic camp, thinking “oh shit oh shit oh shit, it’s going to be so hard and I don’t know the first thing about anything.’

You might also be in the serene, all-knowing camp, those horrible sods who actually do know it all - but frankly there are about five such people in the world, and none of them would waste their time on a revision blog like this.

No matter which camp you’re in, you’ll almost certainly benefit from structuring your last week and a half of revision to get the most reward for your time. (Here at Flying Colours Maths, we’re all about working smarter, not harder).

So, here’s an exercise I like to go through with my students to decide which areas could use the most revision. Click on the picture above to download the C1 smile-o-gram, print it out, and then do this:

1. Look at each topic in turn.
2. If you’re confident about it, draw a smiley face that looks like a positive quadratic.
3. If you’re really not confident, draw a frowny face that looks like a negative quadratic.
4. If you’re somewhere in between, draw a face somewhere in between, maybe a cubic or a straight line. I’m not sure of the circumstances that would end up with a reciprocal graph, but it’s probably painful.
5. After looking at all of the topics, pick the two with the frowniest faces and the one with the happiest face that isn’t fully happy.
6. Spend 30 minutes on the first frowny topic, 20 minutes on the happy topic and another 30 minutes on the second frowny topic. (Those are just suggested times that work for me - arrange your revision in a way that suits you.) Click here for some ideas of how to revise C1 - or any other maths exam.
7. Repeat the exercise every day until the exam.
8. Be surprised at how easy you found the exam on January 13th!

Meanwhile, how about you let me know what your happiest and frowniest topics are in the comments below? I’d love to know.

(Picture adapted from Flit Whaite by dichoecho used under a Creative Commons CC-BY license.)