54%. When your teachers say you are capable of taking Higher Level Mathematics, they never explained that it meant dropping from a “straight 7s” student to barely getting half the marks on a test. It is never easy to have your perception of ability shattered the way the first HL Math text does, and no one prepares you for the inevitable questioning of ones intelligence. As any HL Math student will tell you, we have all asked the same, age-old question during the 2-year course. Am I good enough for this?
The key to success in HL Mathematics however, is to take the test with its big red 54% and put it on your wall. The key is to look at that score and to associate with it a sense of determination. I will always be more prepared than I was this time. At first it is difficult, to fall from being a model math student to scoring so low, but as with most weaknesses, the first step to improving is realizing that one has a weakness.
Even then, it is easy to say you will prepare, work and improve, but not follow through. The more difficult task is to decide on a course of action, and stick to it rigorously, rather than fooling yourself into a false sense of confidence. Remember, confidence alone scores about 0 marks, practice; on the other hand, is far more valuable.
04h30 A.M. The sun hasn’t come out and the birds aren’t singing because they, like the rest of your family are asleep. Why aren’t you? Sometimes it is very easy to not set aside enough time for practicing mathematics. Sometimes you are just too tired after basketball practice, or band, or just doing all of your homework, to sit down and tackle a problem that continually eludes you. Convenience and cognitive clarity are what make the morning perfect for mathematics. A solid 90 minutes of work every morning from 0430-0600 were the only reason I was able to surpass my 54% and attain my 7 in the final exams. By using a time of day when you are normally free and your mind is clear, you are able to reap the maximum reward in terms of improvement in your mathematics. It will be tough to wake up initially, but when your scores start rising, you’ll appreciate every sleep-depriving minute.