As students prepare for their exams, questions that only assessors can answer often pop into mind. Unfortunately, most students don’t have access to assessors in most of their subjects, so we took your questions and presented them to a senior VCAA assessor who has extensive experience in marking the VCE exams that you will soon sit. Here are his/her answers.

We hope that your exam preparations are going well.

TSFX.

If a short answer is worth one mark, is it necessary to include our working out? There have been times where a question is worth 1 mark, but requires a lot of working out, and I am unsure on what I am asked to do.

Good question. For a 1-mark answer there is no method mark (working out mark) allocated, so it is easy to assume that you do not need to show your working. HOWEVER, it is really important that you still show working out for three main reasons: 1) if you got part a) of a question wrong, and used that in parts b) c) and d) you would lose 4 marks if you did not show working (if all worth one mark). But if you show working and show that you used your incorrect answer from part a) to answer b, c and d, you can still get full marks for b, c and d as long as your answers are still plausible. 2) There is usually a maximum number of rounding marks that you can lose in a paper. If you show the unrounded answer, and then round it incorrectly, you may still be eligible for full marks. 3) It makes it easier for you to check your work if you show working.

For the four modules do we have to do the modules our school teach us, or we can choose?

When you go into an exam YOU are the one who nominates which modules you are going to do. This means that you can do different ones to the ones chosen and taught by your school. However from my personal teaching experience, I would highly advise against this. I do not know of a time when this has worked in the student’s favour. It can seem like other modules are easier, but they all have their various challenges and it is generally better to work with topics you have been practising all year, rather than one that appears easy to the untrained eye.

Is it possible to do different modules in exam 1 and different ones in exam 2?

The exams are marked separately, so it is not a problem from that perspective. However, I would highly advise against this – it would mean a) that you need to study for three modules rather than two, and b) that you would be attempting a module not covered in your classes, and while you may think another module looks easier, they all have their challenges.

On paper two, when some questions ask you to convert time to seconds and when you convert it, let’s say the final answer gives up 37.32, and the questions asks to the nearest second, would you round this to 38 seconds as the decimal is above 30 seconds or would you round it down to 37 seconds?

Decimals in time work exactly the same way as decimals in other numbers – that is it would round down to 37 seconds unless the decimal was 0.5 or above. I understand where your question comes from, but would only be applicable if time was written in degrees, minutes and seconds, rather than decimal time. VCAA will always use decimal time.

In Exam 2, When we are writing our answers to finding a variable, do we have to write the variable=,or just the answer?

I always advise to write the variable as it encourages you to think about whether you have answered the question being asked, however in terms of marking, it makes no difference. If you have the answer written down that is all that matters.

If I decide to complete Matrices, Networks and also Graphs and functions how does the marking work?

VCAA will mark all three modules and use the marks from your highest two. However I would very strongly advise against this as a) you have to study for more than two modules, so may not be getting the breadth of understanding and practice to excel in any of them and b) in the exam you would very likely run out of time if you attempt to answer more than 2 modules.

In relation to Exam 2, when you have to show your working, do you put in the whole solve equation onto the page straight from the CAS, or just write down the working without it. My tutor tells me to not write down the solve part with the brackets, but my teacher tells me too so I’m confused.

VCAA would generally accept either. Most of the time, questions that require working, just require a calculation to be shown that gets you to the final answer, so either would be acceptable. In ‘show that’ questions however it would not be appropriate to write solve and the brackets, as you must work towards the answer, no use it as part of the question.

How can I make my bound reference the best?

Excellent summaries are key. Summarise each chapter, and leave space to attach examples. As you work through practice exams and past papers, for any questions that are particularly challenging, write out a solution showing each step (with annotations if needed) and include these in your bound reference. You should be taking in about 50 pages maximum (although many students take in many more). You need to be able to find all sections quickly and easily, so use your bound reference through all practice question so that you become very familiar with where everything is. Of course use tabs, indentations, colour coding and any other trick that will allow you to find info easily. Number pages and have a contents page listing each concept covered and the page number.

What is the best way and most effective way to get a high score in further math?

The best and most effective way is two-fold.

  1. You need to practice! Question after question after question. Do every past paper and any practice papers you can get your hands on. Every time you don’t know how to answer a question, or why your answer is wrong, ask your teacher. If you do this, when you get into your exam you will be familiar with about 80% of the questions asked!
  2. Your bound reference should summarise each chapter, and leave space to attach examples. As you work through practice exams and past papers, for any questions that are particularly challenging, write out a solution showing each step (with annotations if needed) and include these in your bound reference. You should be taking in about 50 pages maximum (although many students take in many more), and better still if you only have to refer to it a handful of times in any one paper.

Do we need to know what savings and term deposits are for the finance part of further maths?

Those terms are not specific to the Further Maths course. The terminology used is loans, investments, simple interest, compound interest, reducing balance loans, interest-only loans, annuities, perpetuities, annuity investments, and then the three forms of depreciation. If VCAA use an unfamiliar term, they will tell you exactly what it means.

Should working out be shown for 1-mark questions on exam 2?

Good question. For a 1 mark answer there is no method mark (working out mark) allocated, so it is easy to assume that you do not need to show your working. HOWEVER, it is really important that you still show working out for three main reasons: 1) if you got part a) of a question wrong, and used that in parts b) c) and d) you would lose 4 marks if you did not show working (if all worth one mark). But if you show working and show that you used your incorrect answer from part a) to answer b, c and d, you can still get full marks for b, c and d as long as your answers are still plausible. 2) There is usually a maximum number of rounding marks that you can lose in a paper. If you show the unrounded answer, and then round it incorrectly, you may still be eligible for full marks. 3) It makes it easier for you to check your work if you show working.

If we get an answer correct but the working out is wrong will we still get full marks if it’s a 2- or 3-mark question?

There are very few questions worth multiple marks in VCAA exams. If there is a method mark (working out mark) and the working out is wrong, then you would not get the method mark for that question, but you would still get the answer mark.