Tips to Ace your Mathematics Retake!

It can happen to anybody, you failed your Business Mathematics exam. This might give you some chills since this course is the only one you’re required to pass in order to go to the next year of your study. Partied too hard during ADE, failed the course, and now need tips on how to survive the retake? We’re about to provide you with some tips from the coordinator of the course: dr. Reinout Heijungs & we’ve also got some tips from last year’s mathematics students who had to take the resit as well. Do you want to know what advice they give to pass this tough exam? Read on!

We students cannot have it all. It is very hard to maintain your social life, study and sleep at the same time. So, there are times where you just have to let one thing from the golden triangle go. Unfortunately, this is not what we like to do. Having to take an exam again is painful, but keep in mind that you are not alone!
The first tip we can already give away is that you should always go to the inspection. Maybe the professor made a mistake while grading your exam or something else went wrong. Besides, you can always give your negotiation skills a go and fight hard for that 5.5! The main thing here is that you should always try to keep calm since that is the only way the professor will take you seriously.
If this did not succeed, your only option left is acception. Many students in the first year have trouble with the first course Business Mathematics or QRM I. Yet, it is now time to take action to make sure you still pass!

We asked dr. Heijungs a couple of questions and he gave us 7 rules for passing your exam:

1. Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing correctly

For instance, take the question “find extreme values of ƒ(x)=3x²ex” If you start to solve ƒ(x)=0, and do that correctly, you will obtain 0 points. But if you start to solve ƒ'(x)=0 and make one or two mistakes in doing the derivative or finding the solution, you can still obtain quite a few points. In practice, this means that you should try to understand why we take certain steps in the solutions of our exercises and exams.

2. Work systematically and add cues

In many cases, we can guess in one second from the work that was handed in if a student will pass or fail. Students who fill their paper with a random sequence of loose symbols will typically fail. Students who clearly indicate what they’re doing will make fewer mistakes on the way. First, write what is given. This is the function, and the purpose is to find its minimum. Then write what your strategy is: looking for stationary points. Then write how you do that: by setting the derivative equal to zero. Etcetera. Adding such cues helps you to perform better and it helps us to judge it better.

3. Check if you have answered the question

All too frequently, it happens that we ask “compute the maximum profit”, but that a student finds the price at which profit is a maximum. Or we ask to solve an inequality, the student temporarily switches to solving an equality and then forgets to return to the inequality.

4. Write clearly

Of course, if your handwriting is completely unreadable, we can’t give any points. But the issue is wider. Our experience is that students who write unclear make more mistakes. If I can’t read the difference between a “2” and a “z”, you probably can’t read it yourself, especially when you’re in a hurry. This also happens often with powers ( is not the same as 32), indices (ab is not the same as ab) and roots (2x is not the same as 2x).

5. Always think: is this allowed?

If you simplify 3x²=5x into 3x=5, you know that you have divided by x, so in that the case x=0 takes a special position. Maybe this answer has disappeared? Or you will get it as an answer, while it, in fact, should be discarded? Keep a checklist of such suspicious things while answering a question. It is not forbidden to mark a small to-do list with final checks to be made.

6. Plan your exam

At our exams, you have typically 15 short questions (Q1, answer only; 42 points), and 2 long questions (Q2 and Q3, full answers, together 48 points). Count on 30 minutes for Q1, Q2, and Q3. Then, you have 30 minutes left for extra things such as checks. Q1 consists of 15 questions, so 2 minutes per question. Also, take a look at the number of points that you can obtain. It makes no sense to spend 20 minutes on a question that will give you only 3 points. But for a question which is worth 12 points, you might consider it.

7. If we ask an absurd question, probably the answer is trivial

Sometimes we ask a question that would simply take too long, or for which you have to press 1000 buttons of your calculator. If so, there is a good chance that you’re taking the stupid road and that there is a smarter way. Consider for instance i=110001. You could solve this by calculating 1+1+1+… But there is, of course, a much faster way.

Next are the tips we got from some students that did not pass the course the first time either:

  • Make sure you know the basics before starting. It’s much easier once you have a strong foundation
  • Try to really understand what you are doing, instead of just learning formulas by heart.
  • Practice every day for at least an hour. Repetition helps a lot!
  • Get help! Private tutoring can be pricey but also worth it. Also, it is recommended to explain your calculations to a fellow student to reassure yourself that you master the subject material.
  • Definitely practice ALL the old exams and tutorial questions the professor provides on canvas and try to understand each and every question! Then you’ll definitely pass.
  • Watch youtube videos (recommend: Khan Academy and Mathbff)
  • You already receive many points for writing down all your calculations. Remember to write every little step down.
  • Make sure you know and master the main topics, like maximizing and differentiating. Those topics always return on the exam
  • Last but not least, have faith! “If I can go from a 2.8 to a 7.8, anyone can!”

If all the above still has got you feeling you insecure, you can also try tutoring. Aureus offers a lot of courses for decent prices in both Dutch & English. Click the button below for more information:

Aureus Tutoring

Good luck!