maths methods Exam Preparation Guide

how to prepare for 

Methods Exams to Maximise Your Results 

Getting ready for your Methods exams does NOT begin the week before exams or waiting for the course to finish.

While some students do seem to thrive on last-minute cramming, this is not the best way to prepare for your exams (or SACS);

To achieve maximum results you should begin preparation as soon as possible, ideally from the beginning of the year.

This is because a lot of students struggle to convert textbook knowledge to exam questions as a result do badly, so it becomes very useful to start preparing early.

If you haven’t started going through past exam questions yet, don’t worry it’s never to late. Start today.

Here’s 3 steps to help you better prepare and achieve higher SAC and exam scores.

1) Focus On One Topic

Allocate some time – each week – during your study sessions to practice exam-style questions related to the topic you recently covered.

For instance, one of the earlier topics covered in Methods is Composite Functions. As soon as you finish Composite Functions start practicing exam style questions related only to this topic.

As soon as you finish Transformations begin practicing exam style questions related only to Transformations. Similarly, as soon as you finish Definite Integrals, begin practicing exam questions related to this topic, and so on.

Follow this process for each topic you cover it until you’ve covered every topic in Methods.

Again, this practice is done throughout the year as you cover each topic.  

This way you’ll gain more by going through past exam questions and strengthen your understanding related to each topic early on.

It’ll also save you a lot of stress closer to exams, as you’ll practically have covered 100% of the exam questions by the time you finish the entire course.

2) Break Down By Question Type

When going through exam questions, start by doing the tech free questions, then move on to the multiple-choice questions and then go over the extended response section.

Again, you should be focusing on one topic.

The reason you should start with tech free questions is because generally these questions are easier than tech active ones.

Exam 1 is testing if you know the main principles of the course. Going through these questions will help build up your fundamental grasp of the basic rules and concepts.

Try to answer these questions without looking at your notes.

After completing the tech free question, start going through the multiple-choice questions on that one topic.

You can’t rush these as some of them get tricky. The questions require careful reading otherwise it’s likely you’ll fall into VCAA’s little traps.

Going through multiple choice questions will boost your learning, help you reduce silly mistakes and you’ll learn to use your calculator proficiently.

After completing multiple choice questions, you should feel pretty confident on that topic and be ready to tackle the difficult questions.  

Moving onto the dreaded extended response questions. This is where questions are a bit more advanced and where examiners go in depth to really test your knowledge.

You will have difficulty answering extended response questions if you haven’t gone through tech free and multiple choice first.

The best way to prepare for extended response questions is by exposing yourself to new styles of questions you haven’t seen before.

3) Practice Full Exam Papers

Towards the end of the year – around 1 or 2 months before exams – try to avoid textbooks questions and concentrate on only exam style questions.

Textbook questions are not designed to resemble exam-style questions. Their purpose is to allow you to grasp the fundamental concepts.

Exam questions combine different areas into problems and applications and require you to apply your knowledge, which is why you should only concentrate on exam style questions during this period.

The difference between this step and the previous two steps is that this time you don’t break exam questions into smaller topics.

You want to answer the full exam paper at once.

At a minimum try to practice all the VCAA Methods exams from 2006. If you have completed these you can look into sourcing commercial exams.

Just do a few practice exams without timed conditions first (maybe 5 or more), taking as much time as you need, so that you get a brief understanding of the relative difficulty of the questions, how long you should spend on each question and how these questions are structured.

Take notes, keep a record and learn from your mistakes. This step is crucial as it will allow you to gradually fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

Within a week or two before exams, do as many past papers as you can in timed conditions, and try to replicate the exam situation. The more exams you do, the more practice and better you will get at completing questions quickly and accurately.


 I think this would definitely put you in a good position to score well in your exams and achieve a decent study score.

The best preparation for Methods SACs and exams is by doing past paper questions as the style of questions are generally quite similar every year. 

You would gain more by carefully going through each past paper questions and trying to understand each topic deeply, rather than doing a large volume of questions using your textbook.  

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