How fit 3 exams in 3 hours?

Hi, appreciate advice please.

I will be doing the level 2 maths exam on November 8th. I’ve signed up for 3 externally assessed maths standards (calculus, algebra and probability).
I’ve done multiple past papers and each standard takes me about and hour and a half. Any suggestions for fitting all 3 standards in the 3 hours available?

(Perhaps I am missing something but seems a bit unfair that students who want to take all three standards have less time for each than students that only take one or two standards)

Thank you!

Welcome to the community, @Diggooddog!

I understand your concerns, it is really tough to complete all three exams within just three hours, and they are not easy!

My suggestion would be to start from the paper you are more confident about and try to finish it as soon as you can, hopefully in less than one hour, so you have more time for the papers you find more challenging.

Secondly, you need to remember that even for an Excellence, you are not expected to do ALL the questions. Questions usually develop from easier - (a) and (b) to more challenging - (c) and (d). Some students who aim for an E choose to skip the easier questions and only focus on questions (c) and (d), as you can earn Achieved and Merit marks just for partial working on the more challenging questions. This doesn’t always work for the Probability paper, though, as questions may develop meaning you need to complete (a) in order to answer (b), (c) and (d). But Algebra and Calculus papers usually follow this pattern. It may be a good idea to scan all the sub-questions in a question before you start working on them and decide on your strategy.

Lastly, more practice really helps to reduce time. You become more and more familiar with the material and it takes you less and less time to complete the paper.

To summarise, do a practice paper. Then, check the marking scheme and see which questions bring which mark. You may find that some questions which took you quite a bit of time, you could easily skip and that wouldn’t affect your final result. When you try the next paper, only focus on questions that would bring you t’s and r’s (if your aim is M or E) and skip the simpler ones. Remember it is better to attempt at least some problems from all three questions, than to finish all the problems from only one or two questions.

For example, look at Q1(a) from the 2018 Probability paper:

(a) Over the last seven years, the daily temperatures in Reefton have been found to be approximately normally distributed with a mean of 11.6°C and standard deviation of 4.8°C.

Use this approximation to answer the questions in parts (i) to (iv).

Working and/or diagrams must be shown. Correct answer(s) alone will generally limit grades to Achievement.

*(i) Find the probability that a randomly chosen day in Reefton would have a daily *
temperature between 11.6°C and 18.8°C

(ii) Find the probability that a randomly chosen day in Reefton would have a daily temperature over 17°C.

(iii) People in Reefton talk about the hottest 1% of days as being “scorchers”.
What is the lowest possible daily temperature of a “scorcher” day?

(iv) Using this normal distribution approximation, the probability of a daily temperature lower than 9°C is 29.4% (3sf).
Suppose that temperatures in Reefton increased due to climate change, but the standard deviation remained the same.
What would the mean daily temperature for Reefton need to become to make this probability fall to 20.0% (3sf)

If you spend a minute briefly looking at the questions, you will notice that (i) and (ii) are one step problems which won’t give you more than a “u” (leading to an Achieved grade). On the other hand, (iii) requires you to calculate Z value and find a value when you know probability. This is a two-step solution and it would usually give you an “r”, which will give you 5 marks (M5) on the question even if you haven’t done the previous two sub-questions. That is because by completing (iii) you would demonstrate the skills required to complete (i) and (ii).

Even a quick look on (iv) tells us that it is a solution in several steps so we would expect an “r” or even “t” for it. Remember, a single “t” mark in one question gives you 7 marks (E7) which is a third of your final Excellence.

So to keep it on the safe side, you could only complete (iii) and (iv), and (iii) would be just in case you made a mistake in (iv) so you would at least get an “r”.

After that you can move on to the next part. If you have completed the Merit/Excellence questions for all 3 questions, and still have time left, you could go back and do the Achieved parts.

Thanks so much for your fast and thorough replies @Freydis1 all the best to you

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