The Student Room Group

TMUA Help Urgent

The test is closing in and man I'm so unready. I'm on the early stages of revision due to a very late application and near everything I'm seeing on the practice papers is a whole different language to me and I'm meant to be an A grade student. What can I do to grasp the understanding necessary to ace this exam? I could use any resource (beyond Cambridge ones) tips, channels (beyond R2Drew2), notes/flashcards available or willing to share.
Reply 1
To be quite frank, as someone who took this test and managed a 4.0 after 2 months of heavy revision, I can't possibly see you managing anything above a 4.0 unless you put your head down and work extremely hard for the upcoming weeks.
Here's my take: as dry as this might sound, try going through the syllabus/specification document on their website. This is important because, at the very least, it'll make you aware of all the gaps you have in your knowledge. If you don't understand an idea that appears in the one of the spec documents, you could try:

(a) Checking your school notes to see if there's any explanation on it.
(b) Consulting a reliable friend or a teacher to get them to explain it to you.
(c) Finding a textbook online that can help you with it. Usually one that is aimed at the A-level maths level will be sufficient. Another alternative is simply googling the idea and sifting through khan academy/ for an explanation. This might get tedious (if not even a little boring) but it will be well worth it.

Generally, good preperation for a more creative paper like TMUA will require a robust understanding of theory. I don't think this prepration step can be avoided.

After this, study technique is going to be important. Some pointers on making the most of the limited TMUA papers would be

(a) When reviewing a paper, before you look at the solutions you should spend a substantial amount of time on each unsolved problem before giving up. Building up the mental endurance and, more importantly, having the experience of applying your understanding of mathematical theory in unfamiliar contexts is invaluable to getting better at a more creative paper like TMUA where each problem is intended to be unique. A creative solution to a novel problem will take confidence, grit, and some ingenuity. This won't materialise from thin air and there's no better way to build this mental "muscle" than practicing it on real TMUA problems. If you've already exhausted the TMUA problems, don't hesitate to go on to harder (or easier, though I don't think this is as good) papers like the MAT. The skills will definitely cross over regardless of the paper.
(b) Be introspective. After doing a sound preparation of theory (which can be done by reading the spec document as I described earlier), it might be frustrating to bump into a problem that you still cannot solve even after bashing your head at it for a long period of time. But don't brush these problems aside. Asking yourself "what was I missing in the problem set up?" and "why couldn't I do this problem?" are, in my experience, the some of the biggest keys to improvement. Think about why you missed the crux of the solution, and how you can take this interesting and unseen idea into future problems. For example, did the answer use a slick method to squeeze more information out of the question's condition? Did they, say, exploit some nice symmetry? There's a variety of neat ideas in TMUA's problems, seek them out and try to internalise them into your thinking.
(c) If this helps, keep a nice set of concise notes written in your own style that summarise your unique understanding of everything above. Be as original and irrevent as you like in the format--focus on capturing the best ideas. Good and thoughtful notes can really help with retaining more ideas, especially when time is tight.

These are just my takes, and I'd like to think they were mostly what helped me get double S on my STEP papers. Hope this helps and all the best!

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