A word from Martin S Phabmixay CEO & Head Tutor
In this week’s article, I want to share with you my ways of thinking which led to a band 6 result in Mathematics Extension 2 and Extension 1. Not only will you learn what the cliché of ‘Study’ truly means but you will have the opportunity to learn how to overcome the mental battles of staying motivated and improving yourself.
Talking from personal experience, I was never interested in study nor did I ever see the use in it. I cruised my way through primary school doing the bare minimum, horribly failing the selective school exam and being placed into one of the lowest classes when I joined The King’s School in Year 7. It wasn’t because I was dumb or incapable but simply because I had no reason to excel or prove anything. I was content with myself and I saw the joys in coming home to only play games, watch TV and relax. But of course, I changed all that and improved myself for the better and reasons I could live by.
For the majority of my early schooling I was faced with the reality that unless I took a major turn and changed my lifestyle and approach to what I was doing that I would be left with a very unfortunate and dull future. In honesty, I wasn’t scared about what others thought about me, what teachers or parents would say because I knew the routine off by heart. It would always be the same words over and over again, “study harder… get off the computer” and they always meant nothing to me. The one thing that did start to scare me was how I saw myself.
Mathematics was my gateway, it was my way of showing to myself that I had what it took to be proud of myself. The subject itself promotes that, without commitment and determination you would readily give up and simply look at the solution, let out a sigh and move on. I was addicted to the subject, to simply put it. Why? Simply because with Mathematics you are working with yourself and your mind for hours on end and you come to learn a lot about who you are.
Achieving in Mathematics doesn’t just end at the marks, it’s a reflection of the fact that you were motivated to bring your whole mind and body to work together. It’s a reflection that not only are you capable but that you have motivation and a reason to succeed. Now how do you get motivated?
For most students aiming for a Band 6 in Mathematics that is arguably all the motivation you need. But there are a few extra things that once you realise are true can really make the difference.
- How does Mathematics apply to me?
In most cases, you’ll find that most of the Mathematics that you study won’t ever be required unless you voluntarily choose to study it again, or your field requires it. BUT, it isn’t hard to argue that you’ve become a very proficient problem solver if you done it enough. With Mathematics, it’s all about being faced with a problem and having the ability to solve it. Every question is a puzzle with different rules. This was one of the first things I realised that made Mathematics very easy even to the Extension 2 level, that there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be solved you just needed to practice enough to know how you can solve the puzzle no matter what the rules were.
- Why should I try for a high mark?
Now, for most, the answer is very self-explanatory, if you do something it’s always a good idea to give it your best shot. However, for Mathematics we can bend that because getting a high mark in Mathematics means that you have proved to yourself that you are capable. One of the biggest challenges you will face is whilst you study endlessly for your upcoming Maths exams you’re going to find yourself looking at the solutions sometimes even before you start the question. In the exam, you don’t get that luxury. Getting a high mark in Mathematics means that you have proved to yourself that you are intelligent and independent, that you are confident in your ability. It was one of my main drivers to success as this was one of the things I felt that my life had lacked. The ability to really be sure about the things that I said extended to how I approached exams.
- Putting in the Hard Work.
On top of all the great advice that everyone will tell you about just studying every night and doing maths questions, there is actually something more that a lot of people fail to realise. With putting in hard work or studying it isn’t just about placing yourself in front of a maths book for 2 hours a night or even more but it’s about why you’re putting in so much effort. Too much emphasis is placed on the end result that people never realise how important it is to say that the reason you’re doing the work is simply for yourself. You must learn to embrace Mathematics and enjoy it, you will see that your life revolves around Mathematics. I put in the hard yards because I really did enjoy it and if you are aiming for a high mark in Mathematics you best start thinking the same way.
To wrap up, these tips and pointers above where what drove me to the next level and extended the ways in which I thought. What makes the above advice so valuable in my opinion was the fact that I can see that there is no reason for anyone who isn’t somewhat motivated to succeed to get there. Although, the last thing that you have to realise is that Mathematics is a very technical subject and of course there will be the challenge of overcoming this obstacle but that isn’t to say English or any Science isn’t exactly the same. With this technical issue it comes through a thorough understanding and accepting when you’re wrong and incapable. Most of the time, looking at a solution will solve this issue or even asking a friend but it isn’t something to shy or be worried about. The major thing that will make you succeed in Mathematics is truly your discipline and motivation to continue putting in the hard work and ‘studying’ every night to get there.