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# Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?

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1. Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
I have my first A2 exam in less than a month, and although I know the key facts about each chapter I didn't finish all the sums in the textbook, may be about 5% of all the sums. However I am able to do the past papers. My question is, do you think that just doing all the past papers from 2002 - 2011 enough to get a full mark in Maths A Level, or is there any need to go through the text book problems? Is just doing the past papers risky?
Last edited by bmqib; 14-04-2012 at 20:03.
2. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
Depends on your natural ability. I would suggest some attention to the Miscellaneous Exercises might be worthwhile.
3. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
What is your first A2 exam?
4. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
(Original post by bmqib)
I have my first A2 exam in less than a month, and although I know the key facts about each chapter I didn't finish all the sums in the textbook, may be about 5% of all the sums. However I am able to do the past papers. My question is, do you think that just doing all the past papers from 2002 - 2011 enough to get a full mark in Maths A Level, or is there any need to go through the text book problems? Is just doing the past papers risky?
Text book is more important past papers.

I just solved all the question from the text book, including the review exercises then did only 2-3 past papers a day before the exam to get an A* at A-Level maths.

The more important thing is understanding, if you understand all the concepts then there is no need to do past papers. Past papers usually contain simple question which i don't think are a good practice, while in book you will find more of a variety.

I know many people may disagree with my view, but this has worked well for me.
5. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
I'd say they're important, but obviously whilst doing the papers you should understand what you're doing. If you do loads of past papers and get a low grade in all of them, that's not good and obviously something's going wrong there, in which case I'd go back to the basics of the topic to try to work out where my weakness is and why I'm not getting those questions right. Usually, I find the mark scheme shows me enough of the workings for me to be able to work out how the answer's found. If I find I'm having trouble with remembering methods or formulae, for example, in something like S3 with hideous formulae (obviously won't be as you've only got 2 applied modules, but it's probably the best example I can think of) then flash cards were handy for remembering them.

It's fine to do the first couple open-book (with the methods in front of you) as I know my first past papers would otherwise only get full marks for the questions on topics I've done most recently, as I tend to forget material. My first past paper for each module also tends to take me a bit longer as I tend to avoid opening my book and instead re-derive techniques. Definitely try to attempt the questions before looking at your book - only look at it if you've forgotten it. As you move through the papers, try to rely less on looking stuff up. Once you've done the first couple, you should be able to do most general concepts.

(Original post by raheem94)
Text book is more important past papers.

I know many people may disagree with my view, but this has worked well for me.
*disagrees with view*

I found that my text books didn't give the same style of questions. S2, for example, required a load more knowledge of 'when can this be used?' than the book would have you believe. Unit reports showed that loads of people were constantly missing out on marks for the same reason each year, which could obviously be improved on if students looked at them. Simple things like 'the distribution is unimodal and does not truncate' that aren't quizzed on in books would really annoy me if I dropped the marks. Doing past papers helps to get used to the style of questions that you'll meet in the actual thing.

More aimed at the OP than at you - if it works for you then great, keep at it. But just warning him about how crap the books are sometimes.
Last edited by Contrad!ction.; 14-04-2012 at 20:23.
6. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
(Original post by Mr M)
Depends on your natural ability. I would suggest some attention to the Miscellaneous Exercises might be worthwhile.
I don't know, this worked for AS Level, got me a 92% at least though I could have put more effort, didn't do all the past papers either, but I know A2 maths is far more difficult than AS.

That's a good idea, thanks.
7. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
Work through the review exercises for each topic in the book. Backwards. For each exercise do the questions until the questions get fairly trivial. It worked for me, so it might for you.
Past papers help, but tbh if you're pretty capable at doing maths then you really don't need to do all the past papers. Check the grade boundaries and find some of the harder past papers and do those to get used to the format, and a couple or so trick you may not know.
Last edited by F1Addict; 14-04-2012 at 20:31.
8. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
*disagrees with view*

I found that my text books didn't give the same style of questions. S2, for example, required a load more knowledge of 'when can this be used?' than the book would have you believe. Unit reports showed that loads of people were constantly missing out on marks for the same reason each year, which could obviously be improved on if students looked at them. Simple things like 'the distribution is unimodal and does not truncate' that aren't quizzed on in books would really annoy me if I dropped the marks. Doing past papers helps to get used to the style of questions that you'll meet in the actual thing.

More aimed at the OP than at you - if it works for you then great, keep at it. But just warning him about how crap the books are sometimes.
By the way, you are doing which board?
Which books do you use?

I will be doing edexcel S2, i will be using the edexcel S2 modular text book to prepare for it, won't it be enough?
9. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
I'd say they're important, but obviously whilst doing the papers you should understand what you're doing. If you do loads of past papers and get a low grade in all of them, that's not good and obviously something's going wrong there, in which case I'd go back to the basics of the topic to try to work out where my weakness is and why I'm not getting those questions right. Usually, I find the mark scheme shows me enough of the workings for me to be able to work out how the answer's found. If I find I'm having trouble with remembering methods or formulae, for example, in something like S3 with hideous formulae (obviously won't be as you've only got 2 applied modules, but it's probably the best example I can think of) then flash cards were handy for remembering them.

It's fine to do the first couple open-book (with the methods in front of you) as I know my first past papers would otherwise only get full marks for the questions on topics I've done most recently, as I tend to forget material. My first past paper for each module also tends to take me a bit longer as I tend to avoid opening my book and instead re-derive techniques. Definitely try to attempt the questions before looking at your book - only look at it if you've forgotten it. As you move through the papers, try to rely less on looking stuff up. Once you've done the first couple, you should be able to do most general concepts.

*disagrees with view*

I found that my text books didn't give the same style of questions. S2, for example, required a load more knowledge of 'when can this be used?' than the book would have you believe. Unit reports showed that loads of people were constantly missing out on marks for the same reason each year, which could obviously be improved on if students looked at them. Simple things like 'the distribution is unimodal and does not truncate' that aren't quizzed on in books would really annoy me if I dropped the marks. Doing past papers helps to get used to the style of questions that you'll meet in the actual thing.

More aimed at the OP than at you - if it works for you then great, keep at it. But just warning him about how crap the books are sometimes.
That's what I'm worried about. I don't want to be wasting time doing things that won't be tested, particularly in mechanics. Any way I think I'll finish the past papers first in the next couple days and then go over the text book sums.
10. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
(Original post by bmqib)
I have my first A2 exam in less than a month, and although I know the key facts about each chapter I didn't finish all the sums in the textbook, may be about 5% of all the sums. However I am able to do the past papers. My question is, do you think that just doing all the past papers from 2002 - 2011 enough to get a full mark in Maths A Level, or is there any need to go through the text book problems? Is just doing the past papers risky?
I'd be safe like i'm being for core 3 and doing EVERY question i come across. And i'm also aiming for an A*, i got 266/300 at AS without revising but if core 3 is what it's hyped up to be i'm not taking many chances as maths will probably be my only A*
11. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
(Original post by 1platinum)
What is your first A2 exam?
I'm taking CIE, Physics Paper 4.
12. Re: Getting A* in Maths A Level - Are past papers enough?
(Original post by raheem94)
By the way, you are doing which board?
Which books do you use?

I will be doing edexcel S2, i will be using the edexcel S2 modular text book to prepare for it, won't it be enough?
I'm OCR, I use the crappy OCR books. I'm not too sure what content you have but I'd look through examiners' reports, if edexcel do them, to see if there are any recurring mentions there. Because reasons for using various tests/distributions was a weakness. Also, being too assertive when hypothesis testing was another issue (the test rejects the null hypothesis so it MUST BE WRONG GWARRRRR) that they picked up on repeatedly. I think past papers are more important for applied modules than pure, but that's personal to me seeing as I find core/FP modules naturally easier.

(Original post by bmqib)
That's what I'm worried about. I don't want to be wasting time doing things that won't be tested, particularly in mechanics. Any way I think I'll finish the past papers first in the next couple days and then go over the text book sums.
What board are you on? I'd definitely do the papers for mechanics. As mentioned above, I'm on OCR and I've found that the questions in the book and on the paper are completely different. I'd look at the asterisked sections too, if you are OCR, as they threw in a couple of questions from 'optional' sections in some papers. Keep a paper or two for near the exam time just to get you back into the swing of things for them. EDIT: just seen you're CIE - I'd still say the papers are really important for M exams because of the question style differences.

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Last updated: April 14, 2012
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