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# How to Improve for Year 7 and 8

Statements for improvement - MATHS

1)      Check your work carefully to avoid errors

Read questions carefully to make sure you are answering questions asked. Recheck calculations including if you have used a calculator. It sometimes helps to do the inverse operation.  Check the size of the answer – does it make sense?  If using a formula, check you have substituted correctly. Be very careful to check any calculations or algebra that involve negative numbers.

2)      Set out your methods in a clear and organised way, drawing a diagram when necessary

If the teacher has asked you to copy a model answer from the board into your book or on a fill in sheet, make sure you copy down the whole method – don’t take short cuts or just write in the answer. You then have an example in your book to show you how to lay out your answers.  Don’t squash your work up – work vertically down the page. Always draw/sketch a diagram, especially for shape questions so that you can put the numbers on.  In algebra make sure there is a separate line for each step with the equals signs lined up. Similarly, with column addition/subtraction, make sure everything is lined up correctly.

3) Take pride in the presentation of your work

You should be pleased to hand over your book for someone to look at not embarrassed because you haven’t stuck your sheets in or you haven’t bothered to write your work neatly. Each year you stick in the front of your book a sheet that tells you how we expect you to present your work. Sheets must be stuck in so that the learning all follows in order and you can revise easily. A ruler should be used to underline headings and for drawing tables.

4)  Always show your working out on a question, including calculator questions

Follow the model answer if you have been given one to copy. Make sure you show what you are substituting into formulae even if you are using a calculator.  Make sure you show enough steps so that someone else can follow what you have done.  If you are not allowed to use a calculator on a question, make sure you are showing the arithmetical calculations you did to get to the answer.

5)  Read the question carefully and highlight key information.

Read questions slowly – do not rush and assume you know what is being asked. If the questions are on a sheet, underline or highlight the key information.  Sometimes it helps to use more than one highlighter colour if the question is very complicated, so you can categorise the information.  If the questions are in a textbook or on a sheet you can’t write on, copy the key information into your book before you start the question

Statements 6 and 8

6) Look back in your book at notes and examples done in class when doing homework or revising for tests

8) Take the time to produce high quality homework

Never just guess how to do a question on your homework. You will usually have examples in your exercise book to refer to. Make sure you are using the correct formula. Did you make a particular error in class? Look back at what you did and make sure you don’t repeat it on the homework.

If you were not sure of the classwork then why not look up the topic on My Maths? We also sell a DVD called Maths Watch which takes every Maths topic giving a short tutorial on how to do each topic. It also contains a bank of worksheets that you can print off to try as extra practice. You could also see your Maths teacher before the homework is due in for some extra help and guidance.

7) Apply yourself fully at all times and complete sufficient work in each lesson

When work is being explained make sure the teacher has your full attention. Volunteer some answers yourself and if working in groups or pairs make sure you are making a good contribution. When working independently on a worksheet or task make sure you are fully concentrating. Don’t be distracted by others or cause distractions yourself.

9)Persevere with the work and attempt all questions.

Keep working at the questions – you may find it easier as you do more practice. Use your model answers to help you.  If a question looks a little bit different, take a risk.  Put down what you know or draw a diagram and have a try.  Breaking the question down into chunks may help.  Ask if you are really stuck after a few minutes thinking about it.  Keep working hard (but don’t rush and make silly mistakes) – how many questions can you get through?

10) Learn your multiplication tables and practise the four rules of arithmetic

The important word above is ‘Practice’. You need to spend time regularly trying to learn your tables and to practise the four rules in various contexts.

11) Always bring your equipment to lessons

This is particularly important advice with regards to your calculator. You should have it with you every lesson. You need to get to know how your calculator works so that you can use it quickly and efficiently in tests and exams. If you keep borrowing one from the teacher or a friend you will not be efficient with your own one. You should also have a protractor (a 360 degree circular one) and a pair of compasses. Other vital equipment needed for all your lessons would of course be a ruler, pen, pencil and most importantly your exercise book. If you keep forgetting your book and end up writing on paper your work will soon not be organised and it will be difficult for you to revise.

12) Ask for help when necessary having tried independently first

The questions will usually be very similar to those modelled on the board which you should have copied down exactly. Follow the methods with the different numbers.  See if you can get an answer and then ask if you are unsure to have it checked.  If it is a more complicated question, try breaking it down into chunks or there may be a model example already in your book to follow.  Unless you are completely stuck, try another question while you are waiting for help. The person sat next to you may be able to help you – but don’t just copy their answers and certainly don’t turn around and disturb others.

13) Listen carefully to explanations and instructions given in class

When the teacher is explaining at the board, make sure you are listening and not chatting or doing something else such as finishing a question or packing away. Ask if you do not understand the explanation.  Listen carefully to instructions about what you need to do, though they will quite often also be on the board as well.  If you keep having to ask the teacher about what you have to do, you have probably not been listening attentively.