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# Am I doing too much?

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Why bother with a post grad course - waste of time? 17-10-2016
1. I'm studying for my Maths A-level by doing past exams. However, while I generally answer the questions well enough, I seem unable to do them all within the time limit, generally missing one-two on average. I'm not used to showing my work and as I'm home-educated I do not have anyone to tell me what work the exam markers want me to show. But for the mock exams I've been trying really hard to show every step. I'm also trying to write neater (my handwriting isn't normally good). However, this means that I might be wasting some time. Can anyone give an opinion on what sort of working I can discard? I'll give an example below. It's a small example, but the larger questions all have graphs I cannot write down here.

This is from the Edexcel GCE Core Mathematics C2 Advanced Subsidiary, Friday 13 January 2012 - Morning (this is essentially all the big words on the front page).

2. A circle C has centre (-1, 7) and passes through the point (0, 0). Find an equation for C.

Equation of circle = (x - a)2 + (y - b)2 = r2, where x = x-coordinate of centre, y = y-coordinate of centre and r = radius.

(x - (-1))2 + (y - 7)2 = r2

(x + 1)2 + (y - 7)2 = r2

(0 + 1)2 + (0 - 7)2 = r2

12 + (-7)2 = r2

1 + 49 = r2

r2 = 50

answer:
(x + 1)2 + (y - 7)2 = 50
2. That is definitely too much for a C2 question. I've been doing C2 and getting straight As since we started. My teacher always tells us to show the working in case you got the answer wrong, so then you can get method marks. But other than that, all you really need to do is show maybe the last three or two steps including the final answer, if you can work it out mentally. But if the question's hard, you should really only be showing working for your own benefit, to understand the question and get it right
3. (Original post by fablereader)
I'm studying for my Maths A-level by doing past exams. However, while I generally answer the questions well enough, I seem unable to do them all within the time limit, generally missing one-two on average. I'm not used to showing my work and as I'm home-educated I do not have anyone to tell me what work the exam markers want me to show. But for the mock exams I've been trying really hard to show every step. I'm also trying to write neater (my handwriting isn't normally good). However, this means that I might be wasting some time. Can anyone give an opinion on what sort of working I can discard? I'll give an example below. It's a small example, but the larger questions all have graphs I cannot write down here.

This is from the Edexcel GCE Core Mathematics C2 Advanced Subsidiary, Friday 13 January 2012 - Morning (this is essentially all the big words on the front page).

2. A circle C has centre (-1, 7) and passes through the point (0, 0). Find an equation for C.

Equation of circle = (x - a)2 + (y - b)2 = r2, where x = x-coordinate of centre, y = y-coordinate of centre and r = radius.

(x - (-1))2 + (y - 7)2 = r2

(x + 1)2 + (y - 7)2 = r2

(0 + 1)2 + (0 - 7)2 = r2

12 + (-7)2 = r2

1 + 49 = r2

r2 = 50

answer:
(x + 1)2 + (y - 7)2 = 50
You wouldn't need the line in bold but the rest is fine.

EDIT : You don't need the second line in bold either.
4. (Original post by techfan42)
That is definitely too much for a C2 question. I've been doing C2 and getting straight As since we started. My teacher always tells us to show the working in case you got the answer wrong, so then you can get method marks. But other than that, all you really need to do is show maybe the last three or two steps including the final answer, if you can work it out mentally. But if the question's hard, you should really only be showing working for your own benefit, to understand the question and get it right
Working is not just important if you get the answer wrong.

Most A Level questions require working to get all the marks.
5. (Original post by notnek)
Working is not just important if you get the answer wrong.

Most A Level questions require working to get all the marks.
That may be the case for questions asking you to prove or show a certain result, but most questions are actually fine with the answer and then two or three additional steps. I'm just speaking from an experience of taking 10 or more C2 tests since AS started, and not hearing anything about not showing enough working
6. (Original post by techfan42)
That may be the case for questions asking you to prove or show a certain result, but most questions are actually fine with the answer and then two or three additional steps. I'm just speaking from an experience of taking 10 or more C2 tests since AS started, and not hearing anything about not showing enough working
That's the working I'm talking about.
7. (Original post by techfan42)
I'm just speaking from an experience of taking 10 or more C2 tests since AS started, and not hearing anything about not showing enough working
And he's talking from the experience of teaching A-Level for 10 or more years.
8. (Original post by notnek)
That's the working I'm talking about.
He was talking about the same amount of working I was (two or three steps). I thought he meant that you had to show all the working to get the marks.
9. (Original post by fablereader)
I'm also trying to write neater (my handwriting isn't normally good)
Handwriting doesn't matter as long as it's legible; you don't need to be neat to get marks, just as long as the marker can read what you've written!
10. (Original post by techfan42)
He was talking about the same amount of working I was (two or three steps). I thought he meant that you had to show all the working to get the marks.
Often two or three steps can be enough to get the marks. But it's often better to do too much working than not enough since it may not be clear in an exam what is required to get the marks.

The OP's working wasn't really a problem but they could have missed one or two lines.
11. (Original post by fablereader)
...
For you it would probably be a good idea to read mark schemes to understand the type of working that is needed.

This can vary for different questions.

But there's a good chance that your timing problems will be helped with practice rather than writing less working.
12. I would have written less but I doubt that's the reason why you're slow. You need more practice.
13. Just glanced through all your comments. Thanks! I'll try to keep it in mind next time I do a past exam.
14. (Original post by Zacken)
And he's talking from the experience of teaching A-Level for 10 or more years.
Well only a few years.

But I've been helping on TSR for 10 years and we're all teachers really
15. (Original post by notnek)
Well only a few years.

But I've been helping on TSR for 10 years and we're all teachers really
Ah, okay. I wasn't really sure, the comment was more tongue-in-cheek more than anything else.

Ooh, yeah. 10 year anniversary was a few months ago. I've only been around for like, less than two years.
16. (Original post by notnek)
For you it would probably be a good idea to read mark schemes to understand the type of working that is needed.

This can vary for different questions.
This is very wise advice. I'm preparing my son for IGCSE maths at the moment and I have found that you simply cannot infer the amount of working required from a straight reading of the questions - you have to look at mark schemes to understand what type of working is required in what circumstances.

This sounds like hard work, but in practice you very soon begin to work out the patterns of expecation for the different types of question.
17. (Original post by Gregorius)
This sounds like hard work, but in practice you very soon begin to work out the patterns of expecation for the different types of question.
I feel that it's easier just to have the rule: show all of your working, all of the time.

That way there's no need to worry about the exigencies of any particular marking scheme, and it's all sitting there if you need to check it.

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