In this article, I’ll share a few tips and study strategies I used specific to QCAA Maths subjects. I did both QCAA Methods and QCAA Specialist in Year 12, so I had to develop a very efficient strategy that enabled me to learn and remember how to do questions without spending my entire life learning maths.
The single best study tip I have for QCAA Maths subjects like QCAA Maths Methods and QCAA Specialist Maths is practice, practice, practice. I recommend this for all QCAA high school subjects, but actively taking information out of your brain by testing yourself is particularly important for maths subjects!
Practice, Practice Practice QCAA Maths
Maths is a unique subject because the best way to understand how to do the content is to just do it. You can use active recall for both memorisation (which is typical for all subjects) and understanding (which is quite unique to maths).
What I mean by this is that you can teach yourself how to do questions in a way that makes sense to you by just doing questions. Simply rote learning the processes is not enough for maths because the numbers and questions change, with a large percentage of the exams being intentionally unfamiliar.
For this reason, I took zero notes for both of my Maths subjects in Year 12, and focussed 100% of my time to doing practice questions (I did exactly this in Year 12, and almost all of the 99+ ATAR students at my school did the same).
To sum it up simply, to ace maths, you must practice. That’s really all there is to it. You can’t rote learn the content. But you’re probably asking, “What specifically do I practice?”
Drill Your QCAA Maths Textbooks (Worked Examples)
The best tip I have for you to practice maths efficiently (that is, not having to spend hours and hours on it) is to focus on the worked examples from your textbook. I kid you not, the vast majority of my study time for maths was spent doing the worked examples in the textbook, then doing them again, then doing them again, then again, then again, and then doing past papers.
The worked examples are brilliant questions to study from and master. I can’t remember the number of times I drilled the worked example questions only for the exact same question to show up on my QCAA Methods IA2 and IA3 or QCAA Specialist IA2 and IA3 tests.
Teachers love using the worked example questions in their assessment so if you can master these you will put yourself in the very best possible position to ace your exams. The best part is that there are only a few worked examples per chapter, so focussing most of your attention on them won’t take too long – overall, it’s an incredibly efficient strategy which is very important with how busy Year 12 can be.
Practice QCAA Maths With Flashcards (Like Anki)
Anki is a great flashcard software that incorporates both spaced repetition and active recall. These two concepts are absolutely crucial for all of your subjects. Every single 99+ ATAR students deeply understands them and uses them for their study. Here are the definitions:
- Active Recall: The active recall study technique is a learning strategy that involves actively retrieving information from memory rather than simply reviewing or re-reading study materials passively. It is based on the idea that actively recalling information strengthens memory retention and improves long-term learning.
- Spaced Repetition: Spaced repetition is a learning technique that involves reviewing and revisiting information at spaced intervals over time. Instead of cramming all the studying in one session, spaced repetition optimises learning by strategically spacing out the review sessions. The intervals are typically longer for well-remembered information and shorter for information that needs reinforcement.
So, in short, (1) space out your revision sessions and (2) use practice questions, flashcards, and quizzes to test yourself on your QCAA Maths (any other subjects’) content for optimal understanding and memorisation.
Anki lets you implement these concepts easily with their flashcard software. Download it here.
A pro tip I used to do was to screenshot the worked examples, put that on the front of an Anki card, and then do the same for the worked solution and put it on the back. To prepare for my internal assessment, I would make a big deck of all the worked examples and then just do all of them a bunch of times.
The best part about this is that you’re forcing yourself to do active recall as you only see the answer after you’ve done the question. That meant that I had basically seen 80% of the test before I’d done it.
Complete Your Practice Exams & Quizzes (Again & Again)
The third great way to practice QCAA Maths Methods and QCAA Specialist is to complete practice exams. Practice exams were without a doubt the only reason why I achieved 98/100 for QCAA Maths and got a 99.90 ATAR. I relied solely on past papers leading up to my external exams.
Again, the reason why practice exams, past papers and quizzes are so effective is because they are active study techniques which means they force you to take information out of your brain and apply it in the exams. This increases understanding and memorisation of the content and allows you to determine exactly what you know and don’t know.
If you do identify weaker areas, you can then go back to the relevant chapters in your textbook and drill these topics until they become second nature. If you have notes (which I wouldn’t recommend for Maths, see above) you can review your notes at this time as well. Make sure you only consult your notes after you’ve completed the practice test though so you get a true understanding of what you know and don’t know.
Make A Mistakes Book For QCAA Maths Methods & Specialist
The final tip I have for acing QCAA Maths subjects like Maths Methods and Specialist Maths is to create a mistakes book. This is simply a book of all of the mistakes and questions you have gotten wrong throughout the year.
While you’re doing past papers, practice questions, worked examples, or quizzes, simply add to your book (or document) whenever you make a mistake or get a question wrong. At the end of the term or year when your exams come around, you will then have a huge document of all of the tiny topics and subtopics you struggle with the most.
I made a mistakes book for QCAA Methods and Specialist and reviewed all of the mistakes I had made throughout the year prior to my IA2 and IA3 and also prior to my QCAA Maths external exam. I did a similar strategy for these questions as the worked examples by creating Anki cards with the question on the front and the answer on the back. I would then drill these cards before my exams.
This is one of the best study strategies you can use. If you make a mistake throughout the year, you’re almost guaranteed to make the same mistake on your exams unless you intentionally note them and practice the questions you get wrong. The mistakes book allows you to do this easily.
I hope our QCAA Maths guide was helpful. These are the exact strategies I used to get 98/100 for my QCAA Maths subjects and ultimately achieve an ATAR of 99.90. Having said that, make sure discover and stick to the the study strategies that work for you.
Every student learns and thrives differently, so feel free to model these tips and change them up to suit your unique learning style. If you find that taking notes benefits you for Maths, definitely go ahead!
Ultimately though, the best study tip I can possibly give for any of your QCAA subjects is practice, practice, practice. This is particularly true for QCAA Maths that absolutely requires practice! If you use active recall and spaced repetition (like with Anki) to optimise your study and make the time you spend studying QCAA Maths more efficient, you are bound to do very well!
📚 Check out our other QCAA Subject Guides:
- QCAA Science Ultimate Guide (Physics, Chemistry & Biology Study Tips)
Thanks so much for reading, and best of luck with your studies! 💕