If you have genuinely put in the effort but the results didn’t turn out the way you have expected, please do not give up – H2 Math is a great subject that will not just open up more opportunities for you when selecting courses in the University but it will also really help us in developing our problem solving capability.
Let me share about some possible reasons that might have caused some students not to do well for H2 Math promos and what I think can be done to improve upon then. I will also be conducting a JC1 H2 Math revision class during this upcoming holiday, so do consider joining me in my class … I will be elaborating more about this later and I will leave a link in the description.
Reason 1: Incorrect study approach
When learning or revising higher level Math topics, it should not just be rote practicing because there may be very crucial theories and concepts that need to be well understood before any practice will start to make sense. When looking at individual topic, we should access if this topic is to be studied as a Theory-Centric topic or Practice-Centric topic. For example, Functions and Vectors are Theory-Centric topics, and we should be spending proportionately more time understanding the theories and reasonings before we start practicing. But if you have had skipped establishing the foundational theories and attempted to practice straightaway, you will likely not generate a logical enough set of solutions to score in exams. About 30% of the H2 Math syllabus consists of these Theory-Centric topics. On the other hand, some topics are Practice-Centric, for example APGP, Integration Techniques, which we should be spending a proportionately more time in practicing for these topics instead. Students who do well in secondary schools and are used to fervently practice for their exams will generally do better for such topics. So in face of Practice-Centric topics, the approach is definitely to practice as much as possible but for Theory-Centric topics, you need to make sure that you have a good grasp of the theories before you start practicing.
Reason 2: Lacking in Problem-Solving Skills.
To score well in H2 Math, it is not just about getting familiar with the theories and examples in our lecture notes and tutorials. Not everyone taking H2 Math will be specializing in Math in the future, so why is it such an important subject in JC? It is because while learning higher level Math, we are also going to acquire a problem-solving skillset. Unlike questions that we faced in secondary schools, H2 Math questions have less instructional components, and the challenge is to independently piece the puzzle together with lesser guidance. This requires students to be first well-verse with H2 Math theories and good exposure to examples, but the key is to strategically and appropriately integrate and improvise what we have learnt from book to solve an immediate problem posted by the question. It won’t be easy to acquire this problem-solving skill overnight, so doing last-minute revision definitely won’t help in H2 Math exams. Another reason why some students had not been able to developed this skill is because when attempting revision questions, they rely a lot on being able to read and understand the given solutions. Being able to understand the solutions is a sign of understanding what you are taught in the books but it is not an indicator of whether you are subsequently able to generate that solution independently. So my suggestion is to be patient and allow yourself adequate time to think through and work on solving the problem yourself, and referring to solution or asking friends and tutors for help as your last resort.
Reason 3: Bad time management
A full H2 Math exam paper is 3 hours and for some inexperienced students, they may perceive this to be plenty of time given for a Math paper. So there may be a lacking in urgency when attempting the exams. This may be especially so because a typical format of a H2 Math exam paper is to have the first half of the paper having relatively easier and shorter questions, so some students tend to start off at a too relaxed pace until when they reach the second half of the paper before they realize questions get tougher and they start rushing. And because these questions are tougher, rushing through them will in turn cost them to lose a lot of marks. We won’t be able to specify exactly how much time we should spend on each mark in our exam paper, but we should mentally rehearse our pace so that when a question is easier we want to make sure to speed up. And when practicing such easier questions, we must also develop the habit to watch out for unnecessary careless mistakes so that we can continue to maintain a high level of precision even when we speed up. By making sure that we attempt the easier questions with more urgency, we will then free up more time to be spent on the tougher questions, and this will in turn increase the chances of us find the correct way to solve them and score higher in exams.
Other possible reasons: Careless mistakes, panicked, lack of rest
Everyone faces different forms of challenges when it comes to exams. Some students may have the bad habit of being very careless in their algebra, or some students may be emotionally affected and start panicking and blanking out during the exams. But regardless of what your challenges are currently facing, I want to encourage you to continue to face them bravely because I believe that all these challenges can be overcome. As compared to my peers in JC and University, I was not the fastest learner but I will reflect upon my mistakes and find ways to improve upon them, and I will always end up building for myself a rock solid foundation before every major exams and I would become unshakable. I trust that for those of you who aren’t giving up and are willing to continue to try harder, you will start to taste the fruits of your hard work soon.
For those of you who are interested in doing a thorough round of H2 Math revision before 2022 starts, I will be conducting 8 intensive revision sessions from 30 Nov to 23 Dec, where I will be thoroughly going through the JC1 H2 Math topics and sharing how you can do better for each one of them in exams. Visit https://online.achevas.com/member/jc1eoyrevision2021 for more information.