Maths exams are always going to be hard to complete under pressure but the question is, how will I be able to have enough time to confidently complete my maths exams in 3 hours? The key is practice practice and more practice.
100 marks in 3 hours equates to 1.8 minutes per mark, giving you a rough idea of how long you should spend on each question (e.g. a 3 marker should take around 5.4 minutes). But again this is just a guide and you can vary how much time you spend on each question depending on how confident you are with each topic.
Take time to complete 3 hour papers from start to finish with a timer on to see how well you are able to cope under stress. Ideally, before your HSC exams, sit as many timed, closed book papers as you can! This is the closest simulation to an actual exam and will help you dramatically with time management. The more questions you do, the more familiar you will be with different question styles – preparing you well for the unseen questions you will be given in the actual exam. Another approach you can take if you don’t have 3 hours to spare is to do timed HSC questions – find some questions, check the mark value and multiply by 1.8 to find the time expected for you to complete the question and then set a timer for yourself to complete the question.
Whilst many people have different approaches regarding the order you should sit the exam, I believe the best approach is to do the paper in order from start to finish (i.e. from easiest to hardest). The multiple choice will ease you into the exam, and being the easiest section, you will be able to knock it over and focus your attention on the rest of the paper. This also prevents you from wasting valuable time on hard questions – remember that all marks are equal so earning 1 mark on multiple choice raises your raw mark in the same way that scoring 1 mark on the last question on the exam does, so don’t focus on all the questions you don’t know how to do- rather make sure that all the questions you are confident on are done to a high standard!
During the 10 minute reading time, I would recommend reading the extended response questions first rather than multiple choice – especially the last question or two. Try and avoid reading multiple choice questions unless you have fully read and understood the last few questions. These questions are obviously going to be a lot harder than those at the beginning of the exam. By reading these questions first, you can think about them whilst doing the paper, saving yourself time in planning your working out when you get up to it at the end.
All in all, timing in any exam is going to be really important yet difficult due to the stress but with practice, you can drastically improve your exam time management.