"Maths Extension 2 exams are easy," said no one ever. Luckily, high achieving Year 12 student Jake shares how he prepares for success!
Preparing for all HSC Trial Exams are challenging, but Maths Extension 2 can be another level of difficulty. Jake explains how he handles this challenge along with all the other demands of Year 12.
Name: Jake Murray
School: Northern Beaches Christian School
University goal: Honestly, not too sure!
I’m somewhat of a maths, philosophy and literature enthusiast — an unconventional mix, I’m aware, but it works for me! I love nothing more than getting stuck into a good book, and have been known to spend a little too much time bingeing old sitcoms and analysing old films (that is, old by my standards, which isn’t really that old). I adore spending time with family, friends, and (perhaps most of all) dogs.
I’m not super certain about what I’d like to do after school, but I’m pretty sure it’ll involve education in some capacity. My (fairly optimistic) dream has, for quite some time now, been to perform research at the tertiary level in maths or otherwise… I suppose I’ll work towards this and see what opens up!
Through my HSC year, I’ve had the privilege of serving my school community as Vice Captain and orchestrator of my school’s Ethics Olympiad training program. Both of these extracurricular engagements involve passions of mine, so I’m very glad to have adopted/continued them through the HSC year.
It’s easy to justify abandoning extracurriculars going into Year 12 (as I did, to my infinite regret, with my efforts to learn the guitar). But in my eyes, you need spaces to engage yourself, in ways that summarising a textbook or preparing with a practice Maths Extension 2 HSC Trial exam won’t. It’s immensely valuable to give your days some contour and variety.
Somewhat paradoxically, the HSC year has been both easier and harder than I’d anticipated. It’s easier in the sense that, well, an HSC internal assessment really isn’t particularly different to a non-HSC internal assessment (with which we’ve had many years of practice). There’s simply a touch more pressure. Perhaps ‘a touch’ is an understatement, but the point still stands. The tasks are fundamentally familiar. Moreover, it’s actually been less stressful than expected.
For whatever reason, I’d come into Year 12 bracing myself for a year of near-total misery.
A welcome surprise.
However, some elements of the year have been trickier than expected. Perhaps most pertinently, retaining motivation for an entire year and staying on track when it feels like you’ve so much time on your hands can be very tricky. Invariably, resultant periods of lower motivation bring about periods of stress as you become reacquainted with the deceptive scarcity of time in the HSC year.
It’s definitely worthwhile pausing every once in a while and reflecting on what you’re working towards, as it’s easy to lose sight of this (and with it, your motivation!) amidst the chaos of the year.
I attribute my comfort with maths wholly to my willingness to pursue answers when that little voice in the back of my mind asks, ‘why’? Why is this formula the way it is? From where did it originate? Does it perhaps have any graphical implications?
Allow yourself to explore and never, ever say “it’s in the textbook” and move on… Things falling into place and starting to make sense in an interconnected way is where the fun’s to be had!
English became a whole lot easier for me once I let myself enjoy it. Reading, pursuing and writing on ideas that are actually interesting, and engaging with my peers in conversation about our texts have all helped make English a great deal more accessible and enjoyable.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Physics. Physics in the theoretical sense. Unfortunately, practicals have always been a source of stress for me (I’d attribute this to a certain unfortunate experience in Year 7 involving an acid spill and the ruining of a set of results mid-exam). In every practical task since, I’ve found myself in a fairly panicked state.
As with anything of this nature, I’ve found the best way to mitigate my aversion to practicals has been, unsurprisingly, doing more practicals. Everyone’s got that one topic in that one subject that’s, well, somewhat of a source of misery. And this, of course, is unideal.
Fortunately, in almost every case, exposure is the cure. If you’re like me and don’t love practicals, challenge yourself to do more practicals! You’ll thank yourself for it. Oh, and don’t be like me and wait until Year 12 to acknowledge an area of discomfort. Tackle it early!
In the past, my approach to exam preparation was fairly disordered. I’d complete a few practice papers after touching up on any particular content areas with which I had difficulty, without taking much time to evaluate my performance and consider how I could improve it beyond simply doing more papers.
For my Maths Extension 2 Trial, however, I’ve made an effort to more consciously keep track of progress, feelings and areas of improvement by using tables and a piece of software called Notion (below).
I’ve never been particularly keen on devoting copious amounts of time to making notes for Maths. But, I know that works quite well for some of my peers. However, prescribed textbooks often don’t have the kind of explanations that I know make things ‘click’ for me. I like to use the Matrix theory books to review content, as they combine the specificity and comprehensiveness expected of a textbook and the benefits of personal notes in their structure and style.
Once the content is down, exposure to different styles of application through past papers is extremely beneficial. Being Maths Extension 2, there isn’t a great deal of content. However, this content can be stretched and contorted to achieve a great deal, resulting in a wide variety of question styles in examinations. So, when preparing for Maths Extension 2, I’ve found it useful to consult my school and Matrix teachers about where good, challenging papers can be found.
Exam papers. Well, that’s a touch reductive. I’ll do an exam paper. Then, if there’re any particular areas of content with which I’ve noticed I’m struggling, I’ll consult my textbooks and Matrix Theory Books for some consolidation. And finally… more papers.
I’m gradually transitioning from doing these under casual conditions (i.e. with some music or snacks, potentially with a meal break) to formal examination conditions. While, ideally, we’d all dive directly into exam simulation, I’ve found it useful to spend time tackling tricky questions in a more casual environment. While the pressure of exams is something we need to grow accustomed to, developing problem-solving strategies is easier when not as anxious (at the very least, it is for me).
Especially for a subject like Maths Extension 2, it’s worthwhile spending time wrestling with the kinds of questions for which the approach isn’t immediately apparent. The Matrix workbooks often contain questions of such a nature. Beyond this, talking to your teachers about locating good resources (as discussed above) is always a wise move.