How I got my A1 in Maths

Steven Brown, past pupil of The Institute of Education


I loved maths in 5th and 6th year. However, I think it's important to mention that I didn't always love maths and I definitely wasn't always good at it. I used to fail maths in 2nd year and I achieved a B in the Junior Cert at higher level. As we all know maths is a challenging subject but it isn't impossibly hard. It requires consistent hard work and dedication throughout the cycle to remember and refresh old concepts while trying to learn new ones. Staying on top of previous chapters is essential.

My biggest advice for people looking for a H1 in higher level maths is knowing the basics inside out, algebra especially. In maths, you must have a foundation to build on to be able to even attempt topics such as calculus and even probability, where algebra can be a key part to questions. I spent the majority of 5th year trying to understand all of the rules of algebra involved with expressions, functions and graphs. This was extremely valuable when doing calculus and other topics in algebra such as proof by induction.
My next piece of advice is on how to study for maths exams. My biggest problem with maths was that I made silly mistakes and missed out on a chunk of marks in tests. I found that doing a small test every week improved my speed and accuracy during exams. After some time, I no longer made silly errors and felt calm going into exams which was massively important, as it helped me to maintain a clear mind and allowed me to gain as many marks as I could.

Practise of past exams is essential if you're looking to get a good grade in maths. Similar question types have come up over and over again. I found this was paramount in achieving a good grade in maths.

Learning all topics is essential as the exam is NOT predictable except for obvious topics such as calculus and probability. Both sections in each paper are equally important but always make sure to leave a lot of time to do the application questions as they tend require more thought. Please attempt everything. You never know what could get you marks!