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How to get improve general problem solving skills and for MAT

Hi there, I am a year 12 student studying Maths, further maths and chemistry and have begun preparing for the MAT. I am predicted A*s in all my subjects but struggle with general maths questions like the questions in the senior maths challenge despite always getting 95%+ in every maths and further maths test I have done this year. Do you have any book recommendations on how to improve my problem solving skills because I know the MAT questions can be a pain sometimes.
The UKMT do some good books for problem solving
Original post by JeffDaPenguin
The UKMT do some good books for problem solving

I know that they have quite a selection of books. Which ones would you recommend in my position seeing as my senior maths challenge skills are poor.
Original post by gunnersmad231
I know that they have quite a selection of books. Which ones would you recommend in my position seeing as my senior maths challenge skills are poor.


Well I have almost all of them, and the one I stared with was the ‘introduction to number theory’, so I would recommend that one, but the best way to get better at the Senior Maths Challenge is to practice past papers, you can also practice past papers for the intermediate maths challenge and intermediate olympiads if you find the senior maths challenge too difficult.
Reply 4
Original post by gunnersmad231
I know that they have quite a selection of books. Which ones would you recommend in my position seeing as my senior maths challenge skills are poor.

Its probably worth thinking about both general problem solving skills as well as topic specific techniques. For general problem solving I like
https://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/9478#t=aboutBook
as its readable and lots of simple problems (challenge level). You can download the intro/chapter 1 to get a gentle intro. For topic specific stuff you could look at frost mat/step/ukmt slides https://www.drfrost.org/downloadables.php?noid=917 or the Senior Problems (smc) or Problem Solvers Handbook (imc) from ukmt or the Olympiad primer.

Worth being clear though that this stuff should be supplemental to actual mat/livestream practice.
Original post by JeffDaPenguin
Well I have almost all of them, and the one I stared with was the ‘introduction to number theory’, so I would recommend that one, but the best way to get better at the Senior Maths Challenge is to practice past papers, you can also practice past papers for the intermediate maths challenge and intermediate olympiads if you find the senior maths challenge too difficult.

My mate has quite a few of them so I'll see which books he has so I can borrow them over the summer as he barely touches them. Thanks for the recommendation.
Original post by mqb2766
Its probably worth thinking about both general problem solving skills as well as topic specific techniques. For general problem solving I like
https://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/9478#t=aboutBook
as its readable and lots of simple problems (challenge level). You can download the intro/chapter 1 to get a gentle intro. For topic specific stuff you could look at frost mat/step/ukmt slides https://www.drfrost.org/downloadables.php?noid=917 or the Senior Problems (smc) or Problem Solvers Handbook (imc) from ukmt or the Olympiad primer.
Worth being clear though that this stuff should be supplemental to actual mat/livestream practice.

I have already sat one of the specimen papers just to get a good feel for the questions and have the online spec outlined on what and not what to revise but I think being able to answer Olympiad type questions will most definitely help for the later questions especially for questions 4 and 5. Thanks for the recommendation.
Reply 7
Original post by gunnersmad231
I have already sat one of the specimen papers just to get a good feel for the questions and have the online spec outlined on what and not what to revise but I think being able to answer Olympiad type questions will most definitely help for the later questions especially for questions 4 and 5. Thanks for the recommendation.

Theres no harm in practicing a few of the "easy" bmo questions, (1-3 say) though on mat you obviously get a fair bit more guidance about how to go about a question and obviously mat is more aligned with the maths as syllabus. The ukmt olympiad primer (smith) or older gardiner olympiad handbook have a useful chapter at the start which summarises the basic algebra,geometry,... as well as a lot of worked questions.

Though practicing the smc and basic problem solving is probably more useful, both for the multiple choice and parts of the later questions. Though the smc is obv calculus free and geometry heavy, compared to mat.

I take it youre working through the livestream stuff, looking at tmua and step foundation modules as well? I would have thought that the primary learning would be the mat specific stuff (maybe 50%), then the step foundation (30%) and the ukmt/tmua maybe 20%.
(edited 1 month ago)

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