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Top tips for revising for the new 13+ maths exams
By Stephen Froggatt and David Hanson
17 May

It's never too late to start Maths revision with students, and the two latest titles from Galore Park will provide almost everything they need. First there's the Common Entrance 13+ Mathematics Revision Guide (MRG) by Stephen Froggatt and David Hanson, then there's David Hanson's own compilation of Exam Practice Questions and Answers (EPQA).

In the new specification, students will see more emphasis on core skills, and a greater expectation that they will solve problems rather than being guided too much through small steps. These changes are reflected in both the MRG and the EPQA, which share the same chapter headings, so that Chapters 1 (Basic Skills and Mental Strategies) and 7 (Puzzles, Problems and Projects) bring particular emphasis to these new areas. Students will also see a great deal of updated content as much of it has been re-written from the previous edition, with an increased emphasis on the use of technology in each chapter, for example.

One of the most important things you can do with a study book is write in it! Students are encouraged to scribble all over the MRG and the EPQA and make them their own. It's good to stick page flags and sticky notes into them, or to fold down the corners of important pages - generally personalising them. They are intended to be used not simply read, after all. Don't worry about creasing the cover – that’s a small price to pay for improving one's chances in the exam.

In the past 20 years a lot of research has been done into efficient ways of learning and revising. The old techniques of highlighting and re-reading have long been considered inefficient and few now would recommend them to students. So how should students revise efficiently?

The first answer, perhaps surprisingly, is ALL THE TIME. Every day should include a recall of some aspect of prior learning, as this strengthens the long-term memory in which all our deep understanding resides. Something from last lesson, something from the previous topic, something from last term and something you did last year.

The second answer, more predictably, is by SELF-TESTING. Students should use the Revision Guide to remind themselves of the topic by reading the explanations and examples. Then, most importantly, they should CLOSE THE BOOK, and do some of the questions from the EPQA. Each time we force ourselves to recall information by doing a question we are strengthening the ways we can retrieve it in the future. 

Another tip is to create a MIND MAP. For example, the mind map could be about "Decimals". From memory, a student would write down everything they could recall about the topic on the mind map, before opening the MRG again and filling in the blanks before having another go. Another topic could be "Angles" or "Area" or "Probability". Almost limitless possibilities, and all worthwhile.

As co-authors we have worked hard to provide the very best revision resources for our student readers. We invite those students now to work hard in their turn, and to reap the rewards that such hard work brings.

Thank you to parents and teachers for all your support.

Stephen Froggatt and David Hanson (authors)

Stephen Froggatt taught Maths full-time in secondary and preparatory schools in the South of England for 20 years, including 9 years as Head of an Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ maths department at a large comprehensive school in Essex. During this time, he contributed to many websites and articles on teaching mathematics, and was a regular speaker at maths teaching conferences. Since his Ordination into the Methodist Church in 2014, he has combined maths teaching with Church ministry, writing out solutions to past A-level papers on the back of old sermon notes. Learn more about Stephen here.

David Hanson has more than 40 years’ experience teaching. He has been a member of the ISEB 11+ and 13+ mathematics setting teams, and was, for a time, leader of the 11+ team. For many years he edited the SATIPS Maths Broadsheet and contributed to and/or organised conferences for SATIPS and IAPS. David has retired from teaching but maintains his interest in education. Learn more about David here.

Galore Park's new Common Entrance Maths series is endorsed by ISEB and aligned to their new specifications, for first teaching from September 2021 with the first exams in November 2022. As well as being available in print, the textbook and revision guide are also available as interactive eBooks on our new digital learning platform, Boost. The new eBooks include handy features such as the ability to personalise by adding notes, bookmarks and highlights - great for revision! Find out more about the new series and order online here.

Tags: 13+, 13+ Common Entrance, 13+ Revision, 13 plus, CE, CE 13+, Common Entrance, David Hanson, Entrance exams, ISEB, Key Stage 3, Mathematics, Maths, Maths 13+, Stephen Froggatt

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