My Thoughts: Maths Non-Calculator Exam – 9 November 2011
UPDATE: I later found out that my GCSE Maths result, with the calculator and non-calculator results combined, was an A.
It’s true that, in the past, similar such ‘post-exam thoughts’ posts have appeared to suggest that I was certain that I’d failed, whereas when the results actually came through, I’d done a lot better. That said, I’ve never come out of an exam and wanted to burst into tears as much as I did after today’s Edexcel Maths Non-Calculator one.
As one would expect, my maths-teacher mother had worked tirelessly with me. Naturally, she’d warned me of the amount of time the A* pupils she’d tutored had put in in revision, and whilst I’d originally intended to start revising a year ago, in reality I didn’t begin proper until the end of the summer. Even so, I probably did spend just as long doing past papers and going over key areas as her candidates from last year did.
Yet despite this, today’s paper came as a shock. My friend Isa Nazir recently posted on Facebook "past papers = easy, real exam paper = hard….straight up". I’d boasted beforehand that I could do the first twenty of the thirty questions in as many minutes, but tended to get stuck completely with the last ten. Unfortunately, I knew before I began that it’d be a harder paper; this 100-mark exam had just 22 questions. A quick mental calculation averaged each question as worth just under five marks – a lot more than the average in the papers with more questions (and the same number of marks).
The first question was a lot harder than the first question of papers I’d done in the past. Whilst I don’t blame a lack of confidence for how difficult I found the paper, it certainly was a harsh question to start with. But it was only a sign of things to come: the exam tested me on subjects I’d never even learnt, let alone revised.
I have slow processing skills, and a five-mark question involving the reading of a road atlas extract, the conversion of distance (at a set speed) to time, and concluding with working out the estimated time of arrival having set off at 9:00am, saw me wasting valuable. Outside, after the exam, I joked with my friend Sarah Donlon that "It’s a pointless question anyway. Why can’t they just buy a TomTom? It’ll even plan the route for them too."
Unfortunately, despite how hard I found the paper, it’s not over yet. Ahead of me is a weekend of further Maths revision, this time for the calculator paper on Monday. But then, as this is the linear exam (sat six months early by the entire of Year 11), I’ve effectively completed KS4 Maths. That said, we’ll have to wait until after Christmas to find out the results of this and the next paper.
As usual, I used Facebook to poll my friends and classmates on their post-exam thoughts. Nobody had found it ‘easy’, or even ‘moderate’, but the largest percentage of people were slightly more positive about it than I.