DON’T Refer To The Solution TOO SOON



Is learning from solutions a good way to study for Math? When you are solving higher level Math problems, in our case H2 Math, referring to solutions may not actually help you as much as you think. Of course it varies from student to student but I have seen enough cases where the students even ended up worse off.

Just so that we are clear, go ahead and look at the answers all you want, but you should avoid looking at the full solutions too readily. Why? Because with higher level Math, one of the main aims of the syllabus is to get us to become mature, independent thinkers. If you take a closer look, you will notice that in certain situations, the instructional components that were usually present in secondary and primary school are intentionally left out. For example, in O-Level, an integration question can start off by asking students to first perform partial fractions and then solve the integral. But in A-Level, a similar question can intentionally leave out the part on partial fractions and students are supposed to formulate their own set of instructions in order to successfully perform the integration. The aim is to train an A Level H2 Math student to piece the puzzle together himself/herself. But if the solution was referred to too quickly instead, it probably wouldn’t be too tough for an A Level student to see the logic that performing partial fractions can easily fill that gap, and henceforth he/she may not realize that it’s the process of independently thinking of the solution that is more important than the solution itself!

So if you have the habit of referring to the solution the moment you get stuck, the solution may instantly plug the instructional components that were intentionally left out , but it will also be giving you a false sense of overcoming the problem, when in actual fact no pathway of independent thinking has been formed. For such questions, it isn’t just understanding the logic behind the worked solution, but more importantly, your ability to navigate your way out that matters.

Long story short, my suggestion is that when you get stuck, resist the urge to peep at the solution too readily. Instead, refer to your notes, check out Achevas’s Theory Outlines and videos on Achevas TV, and maybe even reverse-engineer your way from the answers – you will find that these are the true sources of inspiration that can help to clue you in instead of doing the work for you.

Try it out as you do your H2 Math practices. You won’t see a huge improvement overnight but keep on keeping on, you will find that this way of doing things will build you up and also makes learning Math all the more rewarding.