IB Maths AA Exam Strategies To Reach For A 7

IB Maths AA Exam Strategies – Get the best possible score by using these tips from Meera, one of our Maths IB AA examiners.


Exam Preparation and Timing. Find out Meera’s top strategies for acing your IB Maths AA Exam
Know your formula booklet

As part of your revision, take the time to remember where everything can be found. Especially since the formulae exclusive to the HL component are separate.

If a formula or rule is in the formula booklet, don’t bother memorizing it. Rather, double-check in the booklet that it is correct each time you use one!

Instead, memorize other ones which are not included. In fact, if a formula is in the booklet, you can simply use it without deriving it (AA HL Maclaurin series).

In particular, you must memorize the exact trigonometric ratios as these will turn up in P1!

Remember to prove a result

Finally, if a question asks you to prove a result, you should not skip steps, as you need to convince the examiner that you have arrived that the answer yourself.

Remember, it is the lines of working, rather than the final answer which will award you the most marks so don’t forget to show all your steps!

Don’t waste your reading time!

Look for restricted domains, undefined values in the domain, and whether a solution is a member of N, Z, Q, C, etc.

Importantly, take note of the mark allocation, especially for Part B questions.

In this way, you can devote sufficient time to a 21-mark question. So plan for it!

If a question is worth only 2 marks, do not provide several lines of working.

Undoubtedly the solution will only require 1-2 lines.

On the other hand, if a question asks you to show/prove and is only worth 1-2 marks, you wouldn’t be expected to use proof by induction.

maths teacher at whiteboard


Use your presentation to maximize your score in your IB Maths AA exam

Make it easy for the examiner to award you marks!

As an examiner, I can certainly share what will help you get higher marks.

Use plenty of room and set out each question in a logical way. Remember the examiner shouldn’t have to search for your work.

Even if you run out of space, don’t worry, you can ask for more paper.

In part B, it is fine to work through the questions in a different order. However, you must make sure that you clearly label each part a, b, etc.

You can always make a second attempt at a question.

Although, you must decide which attempt you wish to have marked and cross out the other one. Otherwise, the examiner will usually mark the first one. Definitely, under no circumstances should you cross off both!

Avoid ‘painting’ your work!

In fact, if you make a mistake, the best strategy is to put a neat line through it. Rather than writing over it, as this is often difficult to read.

Clear graphs are essential

Most importantly make your graphs large and neat and label important features, and Asymptotes should be given as equations.

maths student at whiteboard

Graphic calculator, essential tips

Make sure that your calculator is in the correct mode for Trigonometry. So, if a Calculus question involves Trigonometry, the mode will always be radians. The formulae for arc length, area of sector in the booklet all require radians.

Also, ensure that you are very familiar with adjusting the window manually as well as using the zoom settings. Sometimes a portion of the graph is only visible if you have the right window settings.

Make sure that you know how to get the correlation co-efficient, (r)

Know how to use the apps to solve simultaneous equations and to find the roots of a polynomial. Make sure that you can use the equation solver as this is often more efficient than using a graph.

The table function is useful for sequences and series as you are often looking for a term number and the step can be set to one. A more precise solution requires a graph or equation solver.

Know how your calculator displays asymptotes and other features of a graph.

A question on paper 2 may ask you for an exact answer so you cannot use an approximate answer obtained from the GDC. You can use it to check, however.

If you use your GDC, you must show evidence. Otherwise, the examiner may believe that you guessed the answer.

Providing a sketch graph, the portion of the table, the lines of working right up to when you use the calculator to solve are all useful. DO NOT give calculator commands/keystrokes.

Avoid performing too much algebra if you can use your GDC.

Often you may need to start off a problem with algebra or other working but activate your GDC as soon as possible.

As soon as you have an equation with one variable, you can use the solve, graph or table functions.

Ensure you fully charge your calculator AND have extra batteries!

Finally, make sure that you have deleted unpermitted programs. As this avoids time wastage if a supervisor has to do this.

We hope these tips will help you in your IB Maths AA Exam. If you would like to book tuition with Meera please contact us.

Meera holds a BA in Science Education from the University of Melbourne and was both Head of Maths and Diploma Co-ordinator at the International School Hannover. Prior to this, she taught at colleges and grammar schools in Australia. She has over 30 years of experience teaching in various educational settings and specializes in IB Maths MYP and Diploma AA (HL and SL).

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