Working for hours but still getting bad results

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Steak___
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I'm taking A-Level Maths, in my second year, but have come to terms with the fact that I am just not good at it. I spend hours and hours over the course of weeks trying to fundamentally understand topics, but none of it helps me in tests. I have just had my mock result back, and got 61% after spending hours preparing in advance. It's gotten to the point where I don't see the point in studying for it at all. I need at least an A, preferably an A* to go to Uni for Economics this year, but don't know what to do to try and improve in Maths, because no technique I have tried works, I have been relentlessly trying since Secondary School, where I was in a low set. Does anyone have some advice on something I could try to help boost my test scores?
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physgradstudent
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The best thing with maths is doing practice questions. You can spend hours reading and understanding but unless you practice approaching questions yourself it won't make much difference. Struggle through the questions first before looking at the answer, and if you can try and get someone else to give you hints rather than going straight to the answers.
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TeeEm
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(Original post by Steak___)
I'm taking A-Level Maths, in my second year, but have come to terms with the fact that I am just not good at it. I spend hours and hours over the course of weeks trying to fundamentally understand topics, but none of it helps me in tests. I have just had my mock result back, and got 61% after spending hours preparing in advance. It's gotten to the point where I don't see the point in studying for it at all. I need at least an A, preferably an A* to go to Uni for Economics this year, but don't know what to do to try and improve in Maths, because no technique I have tried works, I have been relentlessly trying since Secondary School, where I was in a low set. Does anyone have some advice on something I could try to help boost my test scores?
I am sorry but I cannot help mentioning this to you "after spending hours preparing in advance"...
In my opinion to get an A* you will need to spend WEEKS, for a fair number of hours every day...
I certainly had to when I was a student... I would found it insulting to my efforts if someone got the same grade by revising for a week or so before the exam...
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thrwawy
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Yeah practice questions are the way to go with maths
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Littlebons1
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Practice questions are the best but also if you think you're bad at it then you'll just get a bad result, it's half the problem.
Also I take A-Level maths and further maths and I'm second year too
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sabana
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Try to memorise key info like formulas and equations which come up a lot....also do lots of practice qns. If you do bad on any qns look up the answer and learn from your mistakes. Try not to repeat the same mistakes and concentrate on your weakest topics. Hope that helps
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Alif91
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(Original post by Steak___)
I'm taking A-Level Maths, in my second year, but have come to terms with the fact that I am just not good at it. I spend hours and hours over the course of weeks trying to fundamentally understand topics, but none of it helps me in tests. I have just had my mock result back, and got 61% after spending hours preparing in advance. It's gotten to the point where I don't see the point in studying for it at all. I need at least an A, preferably an A* to go to Uni for Economics this year, but don't know what to do to try and improve in Maths, because no technique I have tried works, I have been relentlessly trying since Secondary School, where I was in a low set. Does anyone have some advice on something I could try to help boost my test scores?
i think there are three key parts to doing well in maths. first part is the conceptual understanding bit, and this is where i think teachers, and really good youtubers come in very handy ('zeeshan zamurred' and 'exam solutions' are super great, literally life savers). once u get the conceptual understanding of all the topics, you will be able to tackle any kind of question. next is looking at the worked examples in the textbooks really carefully and doing every single exam style question (i do all of them, even the easiest ones) in the textbook to really put your problem solving skills into practice. and thirdly, of course, practice papers, and doing them well, not passively!

when i did my first maths test in year 12, i kinda flopped it. i tried doing what i did at gcse, when all i did was practice questions, and it worked out really well because gcse maths is so repetitive. but this is not the case at a-level. you cannot familiarise yourself with questions, and so that is why i think having a solid understanding of the maths first, and then putting it into practice, is important. what exam board do u do though?
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Steak___
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(Original post by Alif91)
i think there are three key parts to doing well in maths. first part is the conceptual understanding bit, and this is where i think teachers, and really good youtubers come in very handy ('zeeshan zamurred' and 'exam solutions' are super great, literally life savers). once u get the conceptual understanding of all the topics, you will be able to tackle any kind of question. next is looking at the worked examples in the textbooks really carefully and doing every single exam style question (i do all of them, even the easiest ones) in the textbook to really put your problem solving skills into practice. and thirdly, of course, practice papers, and doing them well, not passively!

when i did my first maths test in year 12, i kinda flopped it. i tried doing what i did at gcse, when all i did was practice questions, and it worked out really well because gcse maths is so repetitive. but this is not the case at a-level. you cannot familiarise yourself with questions, and so that is why i think having a solid understanding of the maths first, and then putting it into practice, is important. what exam board do u do though?
I'm on MEI B, I feel like I know everything there is to know about a topic, and yet when I get a question about it, I'm still not able to do it.
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Steak___
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(Original post by TeeEm)
I am sorry but I cannot help mentioning this to you "after spending hours preparing in advance"...
In my opinion to get an A* you will need to spend WEEKS, for a fair number of hours every day...
I certainly had to when I was a student... I would found it insulting to my efforts if someone got the same grade by revising for a week or so before the exam...
I agree, it's insulting to see someone who did so much less work than you get a much higher grade, I often feel like I've done every practice question there is to do for a topic test, but still, find it difficult to complete any other question that comes up. I think my issue is that I'm bad at problem solving, and I can't seem to improve it by doing all the questions for hours.
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mqb2766
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(Original post by Steak___)
I'm on MEI B, I feel like I know everything there is to know about a topic, and yet when I get a question about it, I'm still not able to do it.
Some good general advice/comments above, but I guess there won't be a silver bullet to significantly improve across the board in the short term. Doesn't mean to say you can't do better in the current topics and whether that will be enough given the current exam/teacher assessment is impossible to predict. But
* What are you currently learning?
* Where do you get "hard" questions from?
* What do you do if you get stuck?The
* What is your planning/learning management like?
Perhaps posting questions on here about maths you're stuck with will help? It would mean you get some advice about how to think about the problem and maybe mean that when you get stuck, you don't just sit there and not be productive. Alternatively, if you're stuck in the short term, a tutor may help. Problem solving is something which can be taught to varying degrees, but treating it as a separate "topic" in the short term may not be the best use of your time, but learning it through completing hard questions is useful.
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Alif91
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(Original post by Steak___)
I'm on MEI B, I feel like I know everything there is to know about a topic, and yet when I get a question about it, I'm still not able to do it.
that means you need to work on your problem solving skills. you said that you spend hours doing practice questions. how often do you get them right, and do u do them under time conditions? if you get questions wrong, it is important that you look at the mark schemes, and try do understand what went wrong. keep those questions safe, and a few weeks later come back to them, attempt them and see if you have improved.

also, do you not use a textbook? I do edexcel maths, and i basically do every single question in the textbook, and then when i am happy with those i move on to exam questions. and to be honest, i personally only really started doing exam questions recently. last year, i only did the questions in the textbook (edexcel textbooks have smaller, easier questions so that you can master the skills needed for the topic, and then longer, harder exam style questions at the end of each exercise for exam practice) and those provided me with enough practice for my exams to do well in them. for example, the edexcel integration exercises may feel long and tedious, but if u do every single integral in the book, you will soon learn the tricks needed in the exam.

i feel as though i am pretty confident with such skills, and so when i am presented with a new question, i clearly write out what i am given in the question, what sort of answer the examiners want, and what steps i need to take. before i start a long hard question, i make a really short plan and i dont just dive straight into the question. then i start answering, and when i do that, i really focus on precision. i dont want to lose silly marks there and there right?

also, when you get your exam papers back, what do you usually lose marks on?
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Steak___
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(Original post by Alif91)
that means you need to work on your problem solving skills. you said that you spend hours doing practice questions. how often do you get them right, and do u do them under time conditions? if you get questions wrong, it is important that you look at the mark schemes, and try do understand what went wrong. keep those questions safe, and a few weeks later come back to them, attempt them and see if you have improved.

also, do you not use a textbook? I do edexcel maths, and i basically do every single question in the textbook, and then when i am happy with those i move on to exam questions. and to be honest, i personally only really started doing exam questions recently. last year, i only did the questions in the textbook (edexcel textbooks have smaller, easier questions so that you can master the skills needed for the topic, and then longer, harder exam style questions at the end of each exercise for exam practice) and those provided me with enough practice for my exams to do well in them. for example, the edexcel integration exercises may feel long and tedious, but if u do every single integral in the book, you will soon learn the tricks needed in the exam.

i feel as though i am pretty confident with such skills, and so when i am presented with a new question, i clearly write out what i am given in the question, what sort of answer the examiners want, and what steps i need to take. before i start a long hard question, i make a really short plan and i dont just dive straight into the question. then i start answering, and when i do that, i really focus on precision. i dont want to lose silly marks there and there right?

also, when you get your exam papers back, what do you usually lose marks on?
Yeah, I would agree the issue is my problem-solving skills, I usually lose marks from just not knowing what to do in a question. Most of the time when I'm practicing, I spend ages on the worked solutions, because I always need to check to see where to start. I find that once I've been shown how to start, even being given the first line of working, I can do the rest of the question. I get so annoyed that I have to constantly refer to the solutions because I'm not sure what to do after writing out all the information given to me.
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