How do I study for my SQA Maths exam?

We at Rigour Maths believe that if you regularly practice, and put in the required amount of time and effort, then anyone can achieve success in Numeracy and Mathematics. In the article below we will give you some practical tips on how you can achieve the best possible grade you can in your final examination.

1. Start early!

Possibly the best, and most crucial, advice that we can give. National 5 and Higher Maths are challenging and demanding courses and the concepts taught should be continually revisited. Mathematics is a subject where PRACTISING QUESTIONS, not just reading your notes, is the key to success. Practicing these questions takes time and the best way to ensure you have this time is to start early.


Use the #bitofmathseveryday approach and for this, you could use a Rigour Maths monthly calendar, like the one shown opposite, if you are a National 4 or National 5 student. National 5 and Higher Maths students could attempt the Rigour Recaps regularly posted on Twitter and Facebook. Attempt at least a few questions every night and, this is the crucial part, IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO A PARTICULAR QUESTION GO AND PRACTICE MORE OF THEM.

2. Revise "smarter"

There is not much point spending lots of time revising something that is not in your final examination. Make sure you have a list of course topics and question types handy. Perhaps your teacher could give you one? If not, feel free to download our National 5 and Higher Maths pupil recording grids by clicking on the links. You should not only use the list to tell you what to study. You should take notes about what you studied, when you studied it and how you performed in that area as this will help you keep track of your progress. Our pupil recording grids allow you to enter this information and will automatically calculate many features which will be invaluable to your revision.

3. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses

Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. You may have already done this from a prelim analysis in your school. Start with the areas you scored zero marks in and revise these areas. Watch the Rigour Maths online tutorials for these areas and attempt the questions. The more you practice the more you improve. 


By using the #bitofmathseveryday approach why not try at least one Rigour Maths online tutorial every day?


Once you have finished revising a topic, revisit it after a while and try the questions from the worksheet. The more you practice, the more you will remember it.


Once you have finished revising the areas you scored no marks in, revise the areas you scored some of the marks in. And don't forget about the sections you scored full marks in. You need to keep practicing these areas to ensure you don't forget them!


National 5 pupils can sign up here for access to the online learning portal.


Higher Maths pupils can sign up here for access to the online learning portal.

4. Pastpapers, pastpapers, pastpapers!!!

Once you have mastered a topic, try past exam questions. Solutions to Pastpaper questions on a topic by topic basis are inside the Online Learning Portal. Try the questions for yourself first, don't just watch the solutions. Engage with these questions. If you didn't quite manage a question, make a note of it and revisit it at a later date. Spend a period of time on a single topic, e.g. try all the surds questions from National 5 today.


Once you have revised a suitable number of topics you should progress onto trying full pastpapers. Sit the papers under the recommended time and don't use your notes. Mark the pastpaper and record your score. You can either use the SQA marking schemes or the Rigour Maths video solutions by topic. After a period of time, attempt the paper again and see if you can beat your score.


You can download pastpapers for free from the SQA website or from many school websites;


Click here to run the National 5 Mathematics pastpaper playlist.


Click here to run the Higher Maths pastpaper playlist

5. Try your best!

At the end of the day folks, that is all any of us can do. On the day of the exam, if you can honestly say you have thoroughly prepared then walk into the exam hall confident that you WILL achieve the grade you deserve. We hope you find our resources useful in your studies - you're the reason that we make them!


Good luck from the Rigour Maths team.

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