How to Study for VCE Specialist Maths – The Three Common FAQs!
This article was written by Alex Niehof, a VCE Specialist Maths tutor. You can see more about Alex’s tutoring services here.
- When do I start studying for exams? And what’s the best way to do it?
As with all maths subjects, Specialist is all about practise, practise, practise! Start doing exam style questions as soon as you’ve finished your first topic. These can be sourced from plenty of resources, including past VCAA and external company exams, as well as publications such as checkpoints. Make sure to leave recent VCAA exams until just before your final exams, as these are the best practise in the lead up to them.
Your textbook is a great resource, but don’t become too reliant on it. The textbook should be used until you’re confident with core concepts, at this point you should have all the skills necessary to tackle exam style questions. Longer, exam 2 type questions should be prioritised, as these are generally regarded as harder and are much more reliant on a strong ability to apply techniques, whereas a lot of exam 1 questions can be learned through rote learning.
2. Specialist scales up so much. Should I pick it just for the scaling?
Absolutely not! Whatever your opinion on scaling, it does a pretty good job of equalising the three maths subjects. Most Specialist maths students get a raw study score for Specialist that’s around 5-10 lower than their methods raw score, which makes sense as the difference in scaling is approximately 7. So scaling isn’t really a reason for picking Specialist.
Furthermore, Specialist is a type of subject that requires a considerable level of competence in order to pass. It’s a bit like a language; picking up something like French in year 11 having never had any exposure to the language would be considered insane! You should only consider Specialist maths if you enjoy maths, achieve good grades in Methods and aren’t afraid of a challenge.
3. So if it’s difficult, and the scaling isn’t an incentive to choose it, then why should I pick it?
Specialist maths is actually incredibly useful! It’s definitely the most useful of the three VCE subjects in terms of first year university. Science and engineering courses at university all require Specialist level maths or higher at a minimum, and doing Specialist in VCE typically means you don’t have to repeat it in first year. Doing this level of maths in VCE instead of university will also make it easier to pick up, as content is covered much quicker.
Specialist maths is also really interesting and has a huge amount of real world applications. Almost the entire unit 4 content is about applications of topics such as vectors, and the topic of kinematics is just real world applications! A lot of this stuff is covered in year 11 as well, so if you’re keen on learning some useful maths, definitely give Specialist a go!
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