Woohoo, your first ever NCEA Maths Exam! Excited?! If the answer to that is a big, fat no, then no worries, we feel your pain. We have all heard that NCEA Level 1 Maths is among one of the more challenging exams. But take a deep breath, because we have got your back. The team at Superprofs are here to help. Oh, and if you said yes, you are excited? More power to ya! Stay tuned for tips and tricks because we know you want to score that excellence, though. So without further ado, all the tips and tricks to absolutely smash your Level 1 Maths exam. Let’s get into it.

NCEA Maths can be simple if you break down the questions. Image by Motortion
Image by Motortion
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NCEA Level 1 Maths Structure

Your questions will basically be one of two types. Two? Is that it? Easy right? We told you. The first is applying algebraic processes. This is related to the factorising, expanding, solving and rearranging using fraction rules side of things. The second aspect of it – which is problem-solving – just involves combining your skills together. Now is your time to flex your critical thinking skills, because you will have to do your best to decide which of these approaches to use when tackling your exam.

Some of your questions will be super easy and straightforward! Actually, most of your questions can be easy and straightforward if you break them down properly, but we will get into that later. A good trick is to read through the exam quickly at the start. Make a mental note of where all the questions are that won’t take as much brainpower. Then, start off with those first. That will get your mathematical juices flowing to tackle the harder questions better as they come. Like we said though, even the more complex wordy questions are pretty much just asking you to pull information from the question to solve it and show your work to explain what you are doing. Also, let us knock one of the most common worries out of the park while we are at it.

No calculator? No stress! That means answers are all likely to be in either round numbers or super simple answers. So, hint, hint – if you come up with a really complex value with like twenty-nine decimal points to the power of twelve – that is probably a sign that you need to go back and take a look at that again.

Top secret, we have one more thing to look out for. Questions are often asking the same thing, but in a variety of different ways. You have got to keep your wits about you here and remember that at the end of the day, they are asking for the same thing, and expecting the same answer. So for instance, solving y = 2x – 1? This can be asked in multiple ways, like asking you to make x the subject, find x in relation to y or use this formula to find x. What they are really asking, is for you to make x the subject of the equation. That is, pop Mr x over on the left-hand side of the equals sign and the others on the right.

NCEA Level 1 Maths can be simple if you break it down!
NCEA Level 1 Maths can be simple if you break it down! Source: The Anastasia Collection

Excellence in NCEA Level 1 Maths

You should always attempt the Excellence question(s). Actually smashing it, scoring a few extra points to boost up your grade and most importantly, learning a few things – it offers you a world of benefits. We understand that they can be a but daunting, though. But alas, things are not always as they seem. Did you know that excellence is pretty much just three achieved questions dressed up in a disguise? All you have to do is apply a little bit of context and some critical thinking to formulate your answer and you’re sorted. You got this.

So how do you actually go about approaching these? So glad you asked. If it is a word question, grab as much information as you can. Let us say David streams YouTube three times as much as he studies. First off David, same. Secondly, let us use that information we do have to form it into an equation. So we could say Youtube = Y, study = S. We also know that David watches YouTube three times more than he studies. This makes it Y = 3S. A key tip is to use every number in the equation given!

Heading further into merit and excellence territory, you will get asked to solve a bit more simultaneous equations. These are just an extension of the equation we were getting started on above. You may be asked, all together, David studies and streams YouTube for 12 hours in total. So now we have

Y = 3S

Y + S = 12.

Now you just practice substitution, and you got it. Try a few of these before you head into the exam to make sure you have nailed the concept down pat. Side note, always be prepared to write what you (or the exam question) ‘mean’ by certain variables as well. For instance, Y = time streaming YouTube

Teens at whiteboard working algebra maths
Teens at whiteboard working algebra maths by Lisafx from Getty Images
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Consecutive Numbers

Ah, another goodie. You may get a few questions in this form. Why not do a few practices runs writing these as terms and numbers to really get your head around it. For instance, a typical question may be ‘Sarah adds three consecutive numbers’. Because consecutive means in numeric order, and we do not know the starting number, we could substitute these with x, x + 1 and x + 2. Then you just add these together, so it looks like x + x + 1 + x + 2

Diagram Tips and Tricks

You may encounter a few diagrams in your NCEA level 1 Maths exam as well. Here are a few reminders when handling these bad boys that will hopefully make your calculations a little easier

  • Do not be afraid to sketch out these diagrams, for instance drawing out a parabola in a parabolic question
  • Sketch out and label rectangles when calculating length and area

Finally, and this applies to all aspects of your exam, go back and check once you are done! Make sure it makes sense. We know that you cannot have a negative number of German Shepherd dogs, for example (if there was a really cool question that asked about German Shepherd dogs). So go back and make sure that your answers do actually match the context!

Full details on your assessments are on the official NZQA page.

Need a hand?

With all these tips and tricks, we are sure that you are well on your way to success in passing your NCEA Level 1 Maths (even with Merit or Excellence) and we hope that you are just as confident as well. However, we are the first to admit that Maths especially is not a topic that you can study by half-heartedly reading notes and go in and smash the next day. We know that true perfection comes from practice, practice, practice. But, what if you need someone to make sure the type of practice you are doing is right, or worse, you have questions or areas you do not quite understand and need a helping hand in before you get to that golden practice phase? Maybe, you need some clarification on how to actually get on the path to Excellence or secure your chances properly. That is exactly what we are here for at Superprofs. We have a range of experienced tutors to help you get to where you want to go. Let us help you. Get in touch today.

 

 

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