Mathematics HL is a subject that undoubtedly requires students to put in long hours of studying to get a good score. Even then, it does not necessarily guarantee a 7 in the final IB exams. In addition to hard work, a good studying strategy is also necessary to ensure that you are maximizing the hours that you are putting in for this subject. Thus, here are some studying tips that worked best for me when studying for Math HL tests in the diploma program:
1. Make sure to understand the concept
Before starting to practice questions, it is essential that you first have a strong understanding of the math concept behind it. There is a wide array of resources that you can choose from, including YouTube videos, study guides, and good old textbooks. I would recommend you to get a copy of the Haese and Harris mathematics HL exam preparation and practice guide book as it has concise explanations on each topic of the core syllabus. However, make sure to try out different methods until you find one that works best for you!
2. Don’t rely on the mark scheme
Practicing past paper questions take up a large part of your effort in math HL. However, how you study with these practice questions can determine whether you get a score of 6 or 7. When you work on a past paper and get stuck in a question, DO NOT immediately go to the mark scheme for the full answer. First, try your best to solve the problem on your own, re-read the question slowly if needed. If, after about 45 minutes, you are still unable to come up with an answer, then look at only the first step, and see if you can solve the question from there. Then, reveal the next step, and if necessary, think of the problem from another perspective. Continue this until you are finally able to come up with a solution. By doing so, you are not merely copying down the answers from mark schemes but practicing your critical thinking skills, which is ultimately what truly counts in math HL exams.
3. Time yourself
Those of you who feel that you don’t work well under time pressure, practice to time yourself when you are answering practice questions at home. This way, you will get used to working on questions within limited time frames.
4. Write down your mistakes (IMPORTANT!!)
The most important tip that has worked best for me was to write the mistakes you made on a post-it for every question you do. These mistakes can vary from the formulas you forgot, the careless errors you made, and specific methods to answer a particular question. Before each test, compile all your post-its and read through them. Doing so will help remind you of common careless mistakes that you made, thus preventing you from doing the same in graded exams.
I hope that all these tips above can help you in achieving your dream score in mathematics HL! It takes a lot of hard work and effort, but in the end, you will gain a lot of critical thinking skills for your future endeavors.