What You Need To Know About Further Maths

Further Maths is one of the unique subjects in VCE in regards to structure. It is unusual primarily because each school has the option to choose particular sections to teach.

Which is why I want to properly explain exactly what students should be expecting from Further Maths in year 12.

What You Need To Know About Further Maths

Module Layout

There are six modules that compose of the Further Maths curriculum.

Two core modules, and four optional modules

Core Modules

The core modules are Data Analysis and Financial Mathematics. Every school in Victoria is required to teach these two modules.

Data Analysis is by far the largest of all the modules in Further Maths, and typically takes up most of the first Term of the year. It involved concepts from previous years such as mean/median/mode, bar charts, box plots etc., as well as new concepts such as Normal Distributions and Linear Regression.

Financial Maths focuses on concepts such as interest, loans, and investments. It is definitely a welcome addition to the curriculum, although there is room to add more detail to make it more beneficial for the wider world.

Optional Modules

The four optional modules are Linear Relations, Geometry & Trigonometry, Networks & Decision Maths, and Matrices.

Every school selects two of these modules to deliver. Typically, this choice is based off what the school’s teachers are most comfortable delivering. It can also be based on what the school believes will achieve the best results.

While no module is particularly easier or harder than another, there are certain modules that are more popular.

  1. Matrices is by far the most popular module choice for schools
  2. Geometry and Trig comes in second
  3. Networks & Decision Maths is next most popular
  4. Linear Relations is typically the least common selection

This is the reason that the Further Maths textbook is so daunting…

It includes content from all six modules, despite the fact that students only focus on four of them.

The exams are constructed in a similar way; students are only expected to complete the modules that they have learnt.

Yes, there are horror stories of students trying to complete all the sections. Don’t be that person…

SACs

Student studying Further Maths for an upcoming SACNote: Schools have the freedom to decide how best to deliver SACs to their students. The information in this section is based on my experience with a range of schools – these aren’t rules, they are simply observations from experience. Please speak to your teacher to get a detailed outline of your SACs for Further Maths.

SACs count for 34% of your overall mark in this subject. That weight is split between all the SACs throughout the year, though the exact split is actually up to your school and teachers.

Typically speaking, Further Maths students get around 4-6 SACs for the year. 2-3 SACs for Data Analysis, and one each for Finance Maths and the two optional modules.

Data Analysis is proportionately bigger than other modules and contains a large amount of varied content, which is why it gets the extra attention.

Further Maths Exam Layout

There are 2 exams at the end of the year for Further Maths.

Each exam is 1.5 hours in length, plus the 15 minutes reading time at the start.

Both exams allow full calculator use and summary notes.

Check out this quick easy list “5 Things That Further Students MUST Have Nailed Before Exams”

Unlike in Maths Methods or Specialist Maths, in which the first exam is calculator-free and notes-free.

And each exam is weighted for 33% of your overall mark.

In fact, the only difference between the two exams is the style of question.

Exam 1

Exam 1 is entirely multiple choice questions:

  • 16 Questions for Data Analysis
  • 8 Questions for Finance Maths
  • 8 Questions for each optional module

For a total of 40 questions to be answered. This equates to 2 minutes and 15 seconds per question, for those who are about to ask. The questions require no shown work or explanation, and there are no consequential marks.

You’re either right, or you’re wrong.

Exam 2

Exam 2 is built entirely of extended answer questions:

  • 36 Marks allocated to Core section, which is typically split as:
    • 24 marks for Data Analysis and
    • 12 marks for Finance
    • These are a little flexible, in 2017 it was 22 and 14.
  • 24 Marks allocated to optional module (12 marks per module)

Which totals 60 marks. If you’re looking for a time budget, that equates to 1 minute and 30 seconds per mark. Despite the fact that there are more marks available in this exam, it is overall worth exactly the same as Exam 1.

Consequential and method marks are both available in Exam 2, which means it is important for students to make an active effort to show their working and methodology in answering questions.

My one piece of advice for Further Maths students

Your Summary Book is gold.

As long as you put in the effort to create it in the best way possible.

Want some help building your summary book? Check out “How to create a killer summary book for Further Maths”

The thing about Further Maths is that each module is completely segregated from the others.

Which means that you can update your summary book as you go without having to be concerned about going back to fill in pieces later.

Your goal should be to use your summary book for each SAC as well as for the exams.

By keeping it constantly up to date, it will become an incredibly valuable resource throughout the year. Don’t wait until the end of the year to do it.

The fact is, once you finish the Data Analysis module, you won’t have a good reason to look at that content again until exam time. Do you think you’ll be able to remember everything important and relevant by then?

Most students can’t, which is why creating a summary book for Further Maths turns into such a daunting task. But if you keep on top of it from the start, it’s not only useful but easy!


Now that you know exactly what to expect, all that’s left is to master the Maths itself! But if that sounds a bit daunting, why not get in touch with us to organise a free introductory tutoring session? Just fill in the form here and we can get in touch with you to give you more information!

If I Could Give ONE Piece Of Advice To Year 12s…

One piece of advice for Year 12s

About a week ago, I sent a challenge to our lovely team of Maths Tutors. I asked them ten questions and asked them to give me their responses. The challenge was designed with a few goals in mind:

  • To learn more about our wonderful team
  • To help them become comfortable presenting themselves in public (as they will need to do more and more as technologies and careers evolve)
  • To get them really thinking about what it is they do and provide for their students

But I made sure that, for every question they had to answer, I provided my own answers. Now, one of the questions I asked was this:

If you could give one piece of advice to Year 12s, what would it be?

My advice is simple.

Find balance.

Typically speaking, students fall into one of two categories: either they stress way too much, or not nearly enough.

To the students who stress too much

Relax. Not too much, just a little

Despite what many people are telling you, Year 12 does not define your life. It’s definitely important, and your concern and drive to succeed are going to serve you remarkably well. Especially if you aim to complete further study.

But sometimes it can be easy to forget an important point. Which is that, 6 months after the ATAR comes out, nobody is going to care about it (unless you teach Maths like me and prospective students are constantly asking “how well did you do”)Stressed student under pressure

To the students who don’t stress enough

Relax a little less. Sure, Year 12 isn’t everything. But it is SOMETHING. Quite an influential something actually.

If you are one of the people who have accepted that Year 12 doesn’t define your life, and therefore aren’t worried about it all: you’ve missed the point.

When your life is falling apart but you don't care anymore

The reality is, you need a little stress in your life

It keeps you focused, on target, and ready to achieve.

Imagine a door that leads to your future. If you push yourself, work hard and succeed, you’re given a key to that door and you can unlock it.

If you don’t put in that effort, you don’t get the key. Instead, you have to go to a locksmith, and waste time waiting for him to unlock the door for you. Or, you can put all your effort into breaking the door down.

Either way, you get through the door and get to your future, whatever you want that to be. But wouldn’t it be easier with the key?

 

 

How Do I Study For Application Tasks?

It certainly seems tricky, doesn’t it?

How do you study for an assessment that is, by design, unfamiliar questions?

Application tasks are designed to challenge you to take your current understanding of Maths problems and test you to see if you can apply them in new (and often obscure) scenarios.

Which means that simply knowing the content isn’t enough.

Focus on “why” just as much as “how”

Most students, after sufficient study, can easily explain how to perform the processes and strategies learnt in Maths.

But when I want to see if a student is truly on top of the idea, I ask a very simple question.

Why would you use this?

And the answer to this question quickly outlines to me if a student is fully grasping a concept in Maths.

Because the answer to that question is usually the key to achieving high results in application tasks.

An application task is built to test both the “why” and the “how” of your topics

A simple test will only focus on the how.

But in order to effectively problem solve, you need to be on top of the “why” as well.

Once you effectively understand why you would use a process, you become able to build out plans and strategies to solve problems.

“Why” is what separates amateurs from professionals

I’m not a carpenter. But I can effectively to all the jobs a carpenter can do. I can measure precisely, cut proficiently, and operate any number of power tools.

So, what is the difference?

The difference is that I do not understand why I would do those things. I am not capable of deciding on how large a frame I would need for a job. I do not know why I would use a certain type of screw. I don’t even know why I would use a certain type of timber, even though I do know which timber to use.

I know how to use the tools, but I do not know why.

And if you struggle with application tasks, it is because you know how to use your Maths tools, but not why.

The language of Maths questions

The Language Of Maths Questions - Keywords

It’s one of the most common problems in Maths.

The one that students complain about most frequently. And rightly so, honestly.

You see, most students don’t have a problem working through questions; once they know what they have to do.

But Maths questions are often so full of jargon that it can become difficult to establish what that actually is.

Maths Question Key Words

There are some frequently appearing keywords that can help to discern exactly what a written question is looking for. Once you know what these mean, translating those tricky problems gets a lot easier!

Solve/Evaluate/Determine

The easiest one! Unless there are other keywords, this one just means “find the numerical value”. No tricks here!

Hence

Any question using the word hence is trying to say “use the previous answer to help you/get you started”.

This often (but not always) means that the question will be very difficult, or even impossible, to complete without the previous information that the writer is expecting you to use.

In terms of

When a question asks for x in terms of y, it means that you need to find x, but that the y term will constitute part of the answer.

“In terms of y” does not mean that you have to find y; just that y will make part of your answer.

Show that

When a show that question is given, you are still supposed to work out the answer as if you don’t know it.

Contrary to popular belief, you are NOT allowed to use the answer given as part of your working out.

The answer is only present so that the subsequent question is possible to work through. Any question that uses the wording “show that” should be treated as if you don’t know the answer.

Given

If a question uses the wording “given”, it means that it is asking you to use information that has been presented.

Most often, the trick to these questions is to take the “given” information, and then manipulate (frequently using algebra) until it resembles the answer to the question at hand.

Find the rule

Questions that ask you to find the rule are not questions that have a numerical answer.

These questions have either an expression, function or equation as an answer, rather than an actual value.

Use the keywords to decide what you need to do

These keywords are a bigger clue than most students realise. By taking advantage of them, you can quickly learn the quickest ways to rack up those easy marks.

Even without the mathematical knowledge, often these clues can turn the tide.

Create a KILLER summary book for Further Maths

Create a killer summary book for further

Little boy with a big book

VCE Further Maths presents a pretty unique opportunity: you get to bring in a summary book.

It certainly sounds like a dream come true. And used properly, a good summary book can be a total game changer in the exam.

The problem is, many people just think this means that taking in the textbook is the best way to go. That way you have absolutely everything.

[feature_box style=”5″ only_advanced=”There%20are%20no%20title%20options%20for%20the%20choosen%20style” alignment=”center”]

Taking in the textbook means you have EVERYTHING, including hundreds of pages that you don’t actually need.

[/feature_box]

Which makes it really hard to find what you are looking for, especially when you’re under pressure. The better option here is to create an actual summary (hence the name summary book) that is only going to be full of useful things.

Less is more

As you work through the year, you’ll come up against hundred of topics. But you’ll probably understand and remember about 80% without much help.

[feature_box style=”5″ only_advanced=”There%20are%20no%20title%20options%20for%20the%20choosen%20style” alignment=”center”]

Your summary book is for the 20% you don’t remember

[/feature_box]
That way, everything you need will be relatively easy to find and you won’t have to frantically search through endless pages to find what you need.

If you need some help on what should be in your summary book, check this out

The power of the contents page

You know when you’re trying to find something in your textbook, but you have no idea where to look? When that happens, the first place most people go is the contents page. That’s certainly where I head.

[feature_box style=”5″ only_advanced=”There%20are%20no%20title%20options%20for%20the%20choosen%20style” alignment=”center”]

If the contents page works so well for the textbook, why shouldn’t your summary book have one too?

[/feature_box]
It’s a great extra step you can take once the content in your textbook is finalised. Spend the hour or so going through your summary book and create a contents page. It’s really pretty simple!

  • Number each page
  • Create a contents page (maybe in a Word doc) that shows where to find each major and minor topic
  • Print and paste on the inside cover of your summary book.

For extra points, split the content page into four sections, one for Data, Finance, and your other two modules.

Theory might be important, but instructions are better

How?

Don’t just write down pretty definitions. They are rarely useful.

[feature_box style=”5″ only_advanced=”There%20are%20no%20title%20options%20for%20the%20choosen%20style” alignment=”center”]

Give yourself clear reminders and instructions about how to perform certain tasks

[/feature_box]
Things like finding a residual value or using the finance solver. If it is helpful to you, it’s worth putting in there. When you’re under pressure, definitions are nowhere near as helpful as a simple set of instructions. You can basically use your summary book to teach yourself on the fly!

Don’t forget calculator instructions

Your summary book is for you. No one else will be using it. Which means it should be very tailored to what you need.

One of the most commonly forgotten parts of Further is how to use the calculator for certain jobs. If you are prone to forgetting these kinds of things, you should DEFINITELY have instructions written down.

[feature_box style=”5″ only_advanced=”There%20are%20no%20title%20options%20for%20the%20choosen%20style” alignment=”center”]

A simple list of steps or button presses for particular jobs can be an absolute lifesaver and will definitely save precious minutes in the exam.

[/feature_box]

Go easy on the worked examples

Two examples of the same style of question is very simply a waste of space. If a question is going to be helpful as an example, put it in your summary book by all means!

But if you are just putting in copious amounts of examples for the sake of filling out your summary book, you’re going to end up wasting your time and also the space in your book.

[feature_box style=”5″ only_advanced=”There%20are%20no%20title%20options%20for%20the%20choosen%20style” alignment=”center”]

Make sure you’ve got enough to help you remember what you need, and no more.

[/feature_box]

If you want other ideas on saving time in your exam, check out this post

White space is gold space

Just because you don’t have as much content in your book as you first thought, that doesn’t mean you need to cram everything together on 2 pages.

Spread out your topics with clearly marked (and highlighted, if you have a highlighter obsession like me) headings and subheading. Make everything easy to find. You shouldn’t need to read through three topics to find the bit you need. Your headings, subheadings, and contents page should do that work for you.

Leave space empty on your page so it doesn’t get too crowded. You’ll give your eyes some much-needed relief when you don’t have to scan through so much at once!

Finally, make sure you practice using your summary book

When you get into the exam, make sure it’s not the first time you’re using your summary book. You should have plenty of practice using your notes from practice exams you’ve already completed.

The more you make use of your summary book before the exam, the more you will remember. Which will actually mean you don’t rely on your book as much in the actual exam.

The best summary book is one that you won’t actually really use; the process of writing and organising it helps you to learn the content anyway!