26 Mar

Senior Students – General Advice

I now have a struggling student who will be in yr 11 this year. Things will be far more serious and I want to make sure I do the best possible job I can, that she also is motivated to keep things from going downhill. I have dedicated some time during first tutoring session of year to evaluating last year and mapping out a plan of attack for this year. Any further tips on senior maths would be great.


There are a few big things that make year 11 and 12 challenging for students:

  • Huge volume of work
  • Increasingly challenging content
  • Interconnected nature of maths comes into play
  • ALL topics rely heavily on algebraic/arithmetic manipulation of expressions

The challenge is managing these 4 challenges throughout the year and not falling behind. This requires a strategic approach to studying. Time management, study habits, exam preparation technique, organisational skills etc all make a huge difference in year 11 and 12. Many students do not appreciate this and simply want to focus on learning how to answer the question immediately troubling them. This is only normal but it won’t solve the ultimate challenge which is achieving a good grade in exams. That will require careful and deliberate preparation, managing the content being studied strategically, doing practice exams etc.

The first thing you need to do for a year 11/12 student is make them appreciate these facts so that you can develop a co-operative relationship without them always focusing on only their immediate problems with school content. They need to trust that you can prepare them for their exams.

Secondly you need to help them develop the habit of being organised about their studies. Which topics will you be studying in the coming weeks? Which topics will you be revising simultaneously? How will you be preparing for the next test? When will those topics be revised (actually mark the dates)? What other topics are relevant to that exam? What does the student want to achieve and what are they willing to do for this achievement? All these questions should consistently be considered and the answers should be used to update the students study plans. Hopefully, this habit of organising will develop and serve the student well into the future.

After the right attitude is in place and strong organisational skills are developed it will be much easier to work with the student, to plan tutorials, to have the work you set actually completed etc.
Another few good pieces of generic advice:

  • Never stop developing their algebra and arithmetic skills – they need to speak this language fluently.
  • Get them doing some form of practice exams/tests ASAP! Even if you create them yourself. The student needs to get accustomed to the exam experience which is a skill in itself.
  • have them see their school teacher for extra help answering questions so you can use your time more strategically in tutorials

Aside from this it depends on the specifics of the student. Their specific trouble topics and weaknesses. They may need to work on problem solving, format skills, positive self-talk etc. However, the points above should more or less apply to all students in year 11 and 12.

One comment

  • Adhinda said 08 August 2013

    Thank you so much for posting your cmnmeot. It is feedback like this that keeps me going. I write about things that I think and observe. I’m writing and sharing because in my view that’s the right thing to do. I have not come across similar blogs/websites/forums. In fact to be honest I never tried looking for. If you come across anything then please do share.

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