Hi, been flicking through quite a few questions now, and have found that once I see how you’ve started each one I can work through and get the right answers. The only issue is figuring out where to start with each problem! I guess that’s what the examiners are going for, to get you really thinking, but do you have any tips on ways to approach questions and first sight?
Good question. There’s obviously no right answer, but here are some ideas.
Don’t just look at these answers without having a really good try at the questions — every question that you get right on your own is worth ten where you just look up the answer, and even in cases where you fail to get the right answer, the time you spend thinking about the question is still valuable.
When trying a PAT question, read every word and look for technical terms (e.g. in the first question: maximum/minimum, difference) or familiar patterns that hint at some other equation (e.g. in the second question: x^2 + 2xy + y^2 = (x + y)^2). Underline them if it helps.
On a bit of rough paper, try to rephrase the question into a more mathematical form, using the keywords to help you (e.g. in the first question: “the differential of y1 – y2 is zero”). For a physics or geometry question, draw a diagram if you can.
Try to refine your rephrased question to generate an actual bit of maths you can work on.
Give yourself a chance to get inspired. Question 10 is a good example: it’s really very easy when you see the trick, but you need to see the trick. To succeed here you need the confidence and knowledge that comes from steps (1) and (2).
As a basic principle: keep practicing and questioning your understanding. That way you’ll build up your knowledge and confidence. If you persevere you will be surprised how quickly you can improve.
Hi, thanks for the advice, and for the website too, enormously helpful.
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