Below are 9 exam writing techniques to help you conquer the stress and anxiety that usually goes hand-in-hand when writing a Maths exam.

###### #1 It starts where you least expected it

The most important exam writing technique to keep in mind is that you cannot write a Maths exam if your brain is fatigued. The first of many exam writing techniques is, you need to get a good night’s rest so that you can wake up early and refreshed. A jaded mind is not what you want. You need a sharp brain to think clearly.

Your long-term memory jolts in when your brain is crisp and well rested. This is when you will remember something your teacher said in class or when you have watched one of miss Pythagoras’ excellent video’s earlier in the year.

The bottom line is, get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep before your Maths exam. You will be able to think clearer when properly rested. Your problem solving ability will also be considerably more profound.

###### #2 The most important meal is not dinner

In fact, breakfast is the second of the nine exam writing techniques. This is not just an old-wife’s tale. Your brain needs fuel for your vastly important task at hand. *Calculus application*, *Trig Identities* and *Euclidean Geometry* involve serious cognitive processes therefore brain-fuel is of the essence here.

Now, this is definitely not where you ransack the tuck-shop or the street vendor and load up on chips and sweets. Absolutely not! You need a hearty and healthy breakfast that will keep you going at least until one o’clock. See the link below on healthy eating habits for students.

A serious no-no is energy drinks. That’s the last thing you want to drink!! In fact, not the last, NEVER. They are laden with caffeine and will only give you heart palpitations and that’s definitely not what you need at this stage. You need to be as calm and relaxed as humanly possible (considering it is a Maths exam after all).

###### #3 The long and winding road

Nothing can stress you out more than being late for your exam. The third of the exam writing techniques is to be slightly early. Did you know, at some institutions, if you are more than half an hour late for your exam, you will not be allowed to even enter the examination room. Confirm you know exactly how long it takes for you to get to school. Add an hour to that and leave on time. Listen to traffic reports on the radio and social media. Make sure there’s petrol in your mother’s car. Arrange with your taxi driver to be on time. Take every precaution possible to avoid being late. Remember, the idea is that you are calm, not in a rush to get to school.

###### #4 What the heart is full of the mouth speaks

Now that you have arrived on time, your troubles are far from over. This is NOT the time to discuss Maths with your friends. In this instance they will become your foe. They might ask you questions like, “Did you remember to study the proof of the Tan-chord theorem?”, or “Do we need to know the First principles formula in Calculus off by heart?”. Your courage will drop below freezing point. Steer clear of anyone who want’s to natter Maths. (Especially the brain boffins.) They will seem to know considerably more than you do and this will just send you into a frenzy.

Remember, calm is what you want, not heart palpitations. Agree with your friends not to talk shop at all. Rather tell some jokes or just sit quietly on your own and madidate.

###### #5 You cannot fight a war unarmed

Please note. I am not encouraging any form of violence! This is just figuratively speaking. (Maybe *Financial Maths* is a war zone…), but with this statement I want to emphasize the fact that you need specialized tools for the job at hand. Maybe the word specialized is a bit too extravagant but there’s a few crucial items you need to take with you.

The first item in your toolbox is a pen as well as a spare pen. Maybe your trusted and beloved pen that you treasure from grade 8 will decide to run dry, then at least, you have a spare one. Remember, a black or blue pen may be used. The second item you need is a sharp pencil. Hopefully your brain is as sharp as your pencil. The third item in your arsenal is a ruler. Yes, a ruler. You have to present your work neatly and a crooked line in Maths is not beneficial.

The last, but certainly not least, is your trusted friend, the calculator. I can waffle on about this item forever but allow me to give you a few pointers. You need to bring the calculator that you studied with, along. Nothing can be more intimidating or frustrating than to try and figure out, during the exam, how to work out *Standard Deviation* or *The least squares regression line’s* equation in *Statistics*. Remember, it is not permitted to borrow anything in the exam room from your friend next to you. No borrowing or talking is allowed during the exam. You are on your own, sailing your ship. Hopefully in calm waters.

Make sure that you switch on your calculator before the exam and check that it works properly. Also check that it is not in Scientific mode and that it displays ‘deg’ for degrees and not ‘rad’ for radials at the top right hand corner of the screen.

If your calculator is in Scientific mode all your answers will be given in exponential form and this can pose a severe problem especially while working with *Annuities* and the *Present or Future value formula* in *Financial Mathematics*. Click on the link if you have difficulties with operating your calculator.

Remember, there can not be any writing or crip-notes on the back, not that I thought for one moment that this is the case, but tell your friends.

A good, working quality calculator is a very nifty instrument to assist you in the exam, not stress you out.

###### #6 Time is your enemy

Time is your enemy, not your friend.

Now that the exam is in progress, here is an important point for you to consider.

Your paper is 150 marks for 3 hours. This boils down to 1,2 minutes per mark. (You are a Maths student, this calculation was very easy, compared to *Functions* or *Trig equations*.)

Nevertheless, it seems as if you have ample time, but trust me, when writing a Maths exam and struggling with *Inverse functions* or a *Cubic graph*, time seems to vanish into thin air. As a general rule, I advise my students, is if a question counts 10 marks, do not devote more than 10 minutes to the question.

Make sure you have your own wrist watch. You are not allowed to check the time on your cellphone. In fact, you are not permitted to even take a cellphone inside the exam room, for obvious reasons. Therefore, a good working, nice looking wrist watch is not only a fine accessory but a very helpful tool during the exam.

###### #7 We all have a favorite

With this statement, I don’t mean a person, I mean a topic in Maths. Some prefer *Quadratic equations*, others prefer *Probability*. My personal favorite is *Statistics*. My advice to you is to start with your preferred topic. There is no law that states you have to answer the paper in chronological order. You are permitted to start with the topic you understand and knows best.

This will put you in the zone and you will feel, I have got this, I am in control. Just remember to clearly indicate the question number and remember to start each question on a new page. This will help the examiner when marking your exam paper.

Refrain from mixing the questions is another exam writing technique. For example do a little bit of question one, *Solve for x*, and then a question of *Calculus.* Aim to keep the questions on the same topic, together. Rather leave open a space for that question and come back to it in the end.

Another point to consider is the weighting of the question versus the time you spend on answering it. Rather aim for answering the relatively easy questions first, to get some points in the bag, and return to the challenging questions in the end.

###### #8 Cleanliness is Godliness

You never thought you would hear this expression in a Mathematics content. Well, there’s always a first!

With this I mean. Write neatly and legibly, this is one of the easiest exam writing techniques. Remember the examiner simply marks your paper and they don’t know you from a bar of soap. They sit there hours and days on end, marking, and prefer a neat and legible handwriting. By the time they get to your paper they have marked five thousand papers already. Trust me, if your paper is a mess, they won’t be too eager to look for marks for you. The idea is, have respect for your own work and keep it tidy. Try your utmost best here. I know it is Maths and I am well aware of the fact that it is difficult, but trust me on this piece of advice.

When you want to cross something out, now is not the time to take out your frustrations on a piece of paper. The best way to cancel something out is to draw a neat horizontal line through it with your pencil and a ruler. Also indicate clearly to the examiner where you answered it again. Remember if you redo a question directly underneath the first attempt, and forget to cancel the first attempt, then the examiners mark your first attempt! Be vigilant.

###### #9 Formula sheet – friend or foe?

I want to discuss the forgotten piece of gold at the back of your answer book, namely the *Formula sheet*. Now there is a piece of paper far more valuable than it’s weight in gold. You just need to understand it and know how to master your *Formula sheet is another one of the helpful exam writing techniques.*

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but the *Formula sheet* can be divided into sections. Right at the top, you find the *Quadratic formula*. The next row is grade eleven *Financial Maths*. Draw a horizontal line across the page. The next two rows are the appropriate formulas you need in the *Sequences and Series* questions. Remember that the formula to calculate the *Quadratic sequence’s* *general term* is not on the *Formula sheet.*

Next you will find the *Future and Present value* formulas in *Financial Maths.* Then it’s the formula to find the Derivative using First principles. The next three rows are dedicated to *Analytical Geometry*. Then six rows of all the relevant formulas in *Trigonometry.* Lastly, you will find the *Statistics* formulas. Now your *Formula sheet* is divided in neat sections and you don’t have to waste your precious time on finding the appropriate formula.

###### Conclusion.

I sincerely hope that my exam tips will find you well and that you have gained some valuable insight in the daunting and balancing act of Maths exam writing skills. If you follow the basic ideas I have put forward, I am convinced that you too can become good at this.

Good luck with your exams!

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