Exam Tips Contact Me
Maths & Statistics

These are just some informal tips for your exams. They are based on experience from having done various exams (including the IB) and I pass it on to students before final exams.


Never use mechanical pencils, they gauge the paper making it hard to erase if you need to change what you have done. This is especially important for paper 1 as it is read by a machine and it can get confused if the previous answer wasn't erased properly. Use the good old fashioned pencils and always have a few of them with you in an exam. This means you don't have to waste time sharpening your pencil, just grab another one. For paper 1, it is always worth blunting the pencil slightly so that it doesn't gauge the paper and to make it easier to erase. This is only a recommendation but I always favour the staedtler brand of pencils (yellow and black stripes) as they tend to be the better ones.


Always have a good quality rubber with you to erase pencil marks. Again, I favour the staedtler brand (blue cardboard around it or the smaller one with white cardboard around it).


Always have a good quality pen with you. I have always found that ballpoint pens tend to accumulate paper fibers at the nib when writing a lot and it smudges after a while. The best pens to use are the pilot v5 or the mitsubishi uni-ball eye micro pens. they work well and dry quickly. Always have spares with you and remember that you are only allowed to use dark blue or black ink pens in your answers.


Always have a good quality ruler. I'd avoid the flexible ones that can get bent out of shape as they don't tend to be as accurate.


Always make sure you know how to use your calculator before the exam. There is nothing worse than buying a new calculator and realising you don't know how to use it on the day of the exam. Either have a spare calculator or spare batteries. It's always best to put fresh batteries at the start of the exam session.


It is in your interest to have a bottle of water with you but you must make sure there is no label on it and you must keep it on the floor except when you are drinking from it. You are not allowed to come with sparkling water or any other beverage that is not still water. Unless you have a medical condition, you will not be allowed to have any food (inlcuding glucose tablets) during an exam.


I hate caffeine and gave it up over a decade ago because it caused an ulceration of the stomach and the oesophagus that took two years to treat. I would recommend students avoid caffeinated drinks, energy drinks and caffeine tablets. There are many articles on the internet that explain how and why caffeine doesn't actually help students. The caffeine gives a buzz that fools the body into staying awake but the brain is less alert as it needs sleep. Caffeine is also a diuretic which means you will dehydrate and your brain does not function well when it is dehydrated. You are much better off drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of rest.