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8 September 2021

Ace your assignments and exams with these tips from Deakin’s Maths Mentors

Ah, maths: it can get the best of us all at times! But no matter what your personal feelings are about maths, it is important that you learn the process of mastering concepts you may find tricky – you’ll not only need such skills to pass your uni subjects, but also to help you grow professionally and succeed in your future career.

Luckily for you, Deakin offers the services of Maths Mentors: high-achieving students who are trained to help you understand the maths concepts needed for you to complete your own assignments with increased confidence.

Now that we’re busily finalising assignments for T2 and preparing for exams, here’s a round-up of the best advice we’ve received from Maths Mentors to help you score your best possible marks.

Crack open the concepts

When it comes to doing well at maths, it pays to go back to the basics and clarify your understanding of inherent concepts – especially if you feel it’s not your strongest subject or you’re a bit rusty.

‘Often we see students who want to check their understanding of concepts, may not have understood the content in lectures… or have not studied maths in a few years,’ says Maths Mentor Megan Kaiser, who is studying a Bachelor of Commerce and International Studies.

Katherine Barbadonis, a Bachelor of Science/Masters of Secondary Teaching double-degree student and Maths Mentor, has noticed this too. ‘I often find that students will come in with a problem, such as a chemistry calculation or a statistics scenario question, but when we start to work through it is not actually that specific problem they are having trouble with, but with assumed skills such as re-arranging the equations that they may have forgotten how to do,’ she says.

The lesson here? Drop in to speak to a Maths Mentor if you’re having trouble working your way through problems or if it’s been a while since you’ve studied maths. They can walk you through the solutions step-by-step until you’re comfortable independently applying this knowledge in your work.

Build your confidence

‘Some students become anxious when they start working through a problem and that clouds their thinking, which then makes the task feel harder or the student [feels they] can’t trust in themselves,’ says Maths Mentor Maria Rodriguez, an Exercise and Sport Science student.

Do you break into a sweat when faced with numerical problems? Maths anxiety is common among students but you can manage and overcome this feeling with the right advice – consider also that you may even be closer to the correct answer than you think. 

‘The most common problems students have are confidence issues,’ says Maths Mentor and chemistry student Daniel Coomber. ‘A lot of students … will have a very good idea of what they are meant to be doing, but they will just mess up one step in a question because they are not confident about their answer. Then solving the whole problem goes wrong.’

So, how can you bolster your self-belief when it comes to succeeding in maths? The answer lies in self-efficacy, which brings us to our next point…

Practice makes perfect!

There’s simply no substitute for experience when it comes to excelling at maths (or any subject, for that matter).

‘Practice, practice and practice some more!’ advises Maths Mentor Miah Meesen, a Bachelor of Health and Physical Education student.

Katherine agrees: ‘Try lots of practice questions. I know sometimes it can feel boring or repetitive but the more questions you do, the more patterns you will begin to see.’

And be kind to yourself while you’re at it! ‘Be patient and open to learning. As with anything we learn, it can be challenging at first,’ says Maria.

Explore different resources

To help you practice your maths skills, you should continually test your understanding of concepts by reviewing practice questions in your coursework and textbooks, taking any practice exams you are supplied in your unit sites, and leveraging the useful resources on the Maths Support Resource Centre.

Miah and Katherine also advise that you explore problems and concepts from different angles to aid your comprehension, in addition to utilising various sources.

‘Access multiple resources to shape and support your mathematic understandings such as textbooks, videos, peers, discussion boards, lectures, Maths Mentors portal and Math Mentors (the list could go on!),’ says Miah.

‘It is also great to Google concepts or watch YouTube videos if you are stuck or if you want to find out why/where the formula is coming from,’ adds Katherine. ‘Sometimes seeing why you follow that formula can make the questions make more sense.’ 

Reach out for help today!

If you want to chat to someone about any aspect of your course work, assignments or exams, drop-in and see a Maths Mentor! You don’t need an appointment, just bring the problems you are working on and your questions. You can also get in touch via phone, email or a video call. And, don’t forget to check out the Deakin Maths Portal, which has resources, examples and practice questions for a range of different areas.

We also understand it’s a tough time due to the ups and downs of COVID, so please familiarise yourself with the many student support services available to you. Your wellbeing matters, and we’re here to help.

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