How to Ace Your External Assessment for General Maths

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Just got through Units 1 and 2 of QCE General Maths and want to start doing some prep throughout the year for your external assessment?

To put less stress on yourself when exam time comes around, it’s important to be preparing and revising content throughout the year.

While this may sound like a lot of work (and it is!), you’ll thank yourself for it!

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get into our tips for acing your General Maths external assessment!

Actions to Implement Throughout the Year in the Lead Up to the Exam
How to Prepare When There’s Only 2 Months Left
The Day Before the Exam
During the Exam

Actions to Implement Throughout the Year in the Lead Up to the General Maths External Assessment

Your external assessment in General Maths is worth 50% of your grade. It is imperative that you do not wing this assessment, as it’s quite heavily weighted with respect to all of your other assessments!

You can tackle this easily if you follow the following steps, but don’t expect to enter the exam room stress-free. It is an important exam, and will most likely have many students taking it because General Maths is a common requirement in many degrees.

Here are key strategies to do your best:

Actions to Implement - General Maths External Assessment preparation

Step 1: Use Your Textbook

Your textbook is your best friend! In it there is everything you need to know, including all the definitions that you are required to memorise and apply during your exam.

The best way to go about using your textbook is identifying all the chapters relevant to Units 3 and 4, and then setting a timeline for how long you should spend on each chapter. This will typically align with the pace at which each topic is covered at school!

Step 2: Make Use of the Revision Chapters

These are also found within your book. You can complete them as you go by topic or use them all at once, depending on your understanding of the topic.

We recommend completing revision chapters once you’ve finished learning a topic, and then periodically throughout the year to ensure you remember the concepts adequately.

Step 3: Schedule in Study Time for Maths on the Same Days as Your Lessons

30 minutes to an hour is a great starting point! This will give you enough time to complete a significant number of questions and give you plenty of practice, without the need for a complicated study schedule that can be subject to procrastination and changes, as well as being difficult to commit to memory.

On average, depending on what subjects you choose, you’ll have Maths three times per week. This is plenty of time to practise, and it is also a good strategy to give you time to work on other subject and revise as other exams start to come up!

Step 4: Make Plans Based on Your Own Study Style

Of course, everyone has a different study method or interpretation. If a weekly scheduled plan works best for you, due to the fact that you have other commitments, you’re free to do this also.

Remember, a plan is only as good as you are able to follow it!

Step 5: Do Not Cram!

Maths is about practice — it isn’t a knowledge-heavy subject. Even if you tried, it is impossible to do well in a test if you tried to cram.

You must act on knowledge that is developed month on month. Like all subjects, it is better to rely on long term knowledge than short term knowledge.

Moral of the story? Complete practice questions as much as possible.

How to Prepare When There’s Only 2 Months Left

Maths textbook and scientific calculator

Tip #1: Use the Revision Chapters

These are extremely useful as they have a general collection of questions that are incredibly useful for practice. Note, these will be worded and styled like those you might have used before in the content chapters of the textbook.

The concepts will be the same as those in the exam, as well as the question styles, but there will be a difference in the way these are worded. In other words, don’t expect to find the textbook questions in the exam.

On the day, the questions might throw you off a little due to the difference in wording. Nevertheless, the revision chapters are a great all rounder to test your knowledge on the topics, with varied question difficulties. 

Tip #2: Pay Attention to the Question Types

Marks are assigned to questions based on their categories; questions can either be Simple Familiar, Complex Familiar, or Complex Unfamiliar.

The more Complex and Unfamiliar the questions get, the more marks these are going to be worth. Students generally don’t do as well on complex unfamiliar questions, as these often catch you out or are worded in a tricky way.

For this reason, begin each revision session during the 2 months before the exam with a Complex Unfamiliar. Not only can you leave the question to a later time if you fail, and move on to Simple Familiar, you will feel great about yourself if you are successful at completing it right off the bat in your revision, making the rest of the revision feel like a breeze.

Nevertheless, any type of question can catch you out. Make sure you revise those types of questions which you find most challenging!

Tip #3: Do as Many Past Papers as You Can

You will most likely be given these in class as practice, as they are unavailable to the general public for ATAR. Nevertheless, make use of them!

Other practice papers for other national curriculums are also great practice. The HSC curriculum and past papers deal with the same topics and question types. There is ample room for you to practise.

You can also check out our practice questions for General Maths below:

Tip #4: Talk to Your Teacher

Around this time, you should be trying to clarify anything you don’t understand! Your teacher is one of the ways you can do this.

Although this depends on the teacher, lunchtimes are great to ask random questions. Sometimes you just won’t have time in class, as everyone that is in the same boat as you will want teacher feedback.

The Day Before the Exam

Make Sure You Clear Up Any Gaps in Knowledge 

By this point these should either be small or almost insignificant. There shouldn’t be major studying done during this time.

Any attempt to do this will only create further stress and make you lose focus.

Get Plenty of Sleep

You want to get at least 7 hours of sleep before any of your exams, Maths included.

Do Some Exercise the Night Before

There is nothing better to clear your head than a bit of exercise. It doesn’t need to be anything vigorous, but just getting in some movement can be highly beneficial and get your mind off the exam.

During the Exam

Maths solution on paper with calculator

#1: Read the Questions Carefully

Make sure you are attentive to the details and don’t misinterpret the question. Students lose marks when they rush to read the question they are answering.

#2: Always Show Your Working

The marker must be able to understand your progress, so it is imperative you show your working clearly and not just skip to the final answer. A lot of the time, marks are awarded based on the working you do, rather than just the answer you find at the end.

#3: Pay Attention to the Marks

The marks for a question are there to tell you how long and laborious your working should be. Don’t go over or under the limit.

Generally, each mark is worth 1 to 1.5 minutes of your time!

#4: Count Up the Marks You Might Lose

To give you a good idea of how many marks you might lose, put a star next to those questions you are unsure about, and at the end estimate the marks lost.

This will give you an approximation of the worst-case scenario. Of course, only carry out this step if you have time, otherwise complete as much of the questions as you can to maximise the amount of marks you achieve! 

There you have it!

You’ve now got all the info about the best strategies to use to prepare for your final General Maths exam. We wish you the best of luck for completing your external assessment!

Are you looking for some extra help with the QCE General Maths External Assessment?

We have an incredible team of QCE tutors and mentors!

We can help you master the General Maths syllabus and ace your upcoming General Maths assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or online!

We’ve supported over 8,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 20%!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational QCE tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!


Vittorio Manessi is an Art of Smart tutor based in Queensland studying environmental science. He was one of the first Year 12 students to study under the new ATAR system in Queensland. He enjoys Maths, Science, English and Ancient History and is keen to share his knowledge of the QCE by making awesome resources.



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