Three Common FAQs About Specialist Maths

May 11, 2021Klein E

  1. Will I ever use this after school/in real life?

    Probably not. Of course, if you study pure mathematics at university, you will be using Specialist Mathematics (SM). But if you want to study engineering, then you may well need SM. For example, the mathematical constant i, which is defined as the square root of negative 1, is a concept studied in SM which has real-life applications within the field of engineering.

    2. Why would anyone study Specialist Mathematics?

    There’s a perception that you would have to be crazy to study SM unless you’re a mathematical genius. But there are at least three reasons to study SM. First, if you are unusually good at maths, or if you particularly enjoy it (which generally only happens if you’re good at it), SM might be a good choice. Second, if you want to study engineering, it will make your introduction to university studies much easier; it will mean you can skip entire subjects and get to more in-depth and ‘real life’ subjects sooner. Finally, SM scales up. A lot. While this alone is no reason to take a subject, let’s be honest: it won’t hurt your ATAR – unless it’s simply too hard.

    3. How do I know if I should study Specialist Mathematics?

    SM is not easy. There are many different concepts to get your head around and the SACs and exam are rarely forgiving. While your scaled study score will be marked up significantly – a raw score of 30 scaled up to 41 in 2015 – earning a raw score of 30 in SM is no mean feat. Despite the massive scaling, some students will spend much of their time in Year 12 slaving away at SM only to receive a disappointing study score. In some cases, this time could have been better spent on a subject more suited to that particular student, as well as their other subjects. If you are unsure about whether SM is for you, ask your maths teacher, and people you trust. Generally, to do well in SM, you should be consistently getting A’s and maybe B’s in maths already.

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Klein E

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