6th habit to becoming an excellent maths performer

Learn how to use your calculator!

Take your own calculator with you to class and whenever the teacher works something using one – work it out on your own one too. You need to practise to use your model and know how to enter the data to get the right answers! Some models need brackets or a different way to enter fractions and you must know how your model works.


Practice makes perfect

Find out how to clear memory and clear settings  – I often see that students struggle during a test with a calculator that’s settings have been set to give answers in exponential format or answers for trigonometric functions are given in radians instead of degrees and they do not know how to reset the settings.

Don’t be in a situation where you can use a calculator in the test and then you still get the wrong answers. An excellent Math performer knows how to do this well.

Blog post by: Hannari Venter

5th habit to becoming an excellent maths performer

For everyone

Think Logically

Excellent Math Performers have a habit to predict possible answers or think about reasonable answers. If you are working out the side length of a triangle and you get a negative answer – you might have made a mistake somewhere, because lengths should be positive. Here are some common logical arguments that might help you in reasoning about answers and predicting possible outcomes:

  1. Lengths are positive
  2. The term number of a number pattern is always positive – I can’t find the (-10 th) term.
  3. I can’t divide by zero
  4. I can’t find the square root of a negative number…. Also if I square something – it should be positive (bigger than or equal to 0)
  5. If I’m working out the height of a building – 0.3 metres and 120 km are ridiculous answers. 2.7 Metres is a perfectly acceptable answer.
  6. If I’m working with a number of students, animals, books, etc. decimal numbers are not valid answers – I need a positive integer as an answer, so if I get 2,6 students, I’ll answer 3 students.
  7. Similarly – if I predict the outcome on a dice – it should be a positive integer between 1 and 6. It can’t be 8 or 12,4 or -4
  8. The answers of sin and cos should lie between -1 and 1. Pi is 3,14… and is not a valid answer. If sin(x) gives an answer of 3pi, I’ll check my calculator settings. You also can’t find if x is smaller than -1 or bigger than 1.

4th habit to becoming an excellent maths performer

Fix Your areas of weakness

Constantly review your work. Develop a habit to check every problem for mistakes. Make sure you’ve added up correctly by double-checking with your calculator. Work out difficult problems in two different ways and see if you get the same answer.

Get in the habit of finding your mistakes and fixing them.

Another great tool to use to fix your weaknesses is a list of mistakes or errors. Here’s a few examples of errors/mistakes:

  1. You know you always forget to write the units at the end of a question
  2. You forget to convert different units in one problem to the same unit (you can’t use cm, m and mm in one problem, you must convert them all to one, for instance convert all to cm)
  3. You get so busy with solving you forget that the question asked the coordinate pair (x;y) and you never finish working out y also
  4. You multiply x-values in your head when you should add them

So make a list of all the usual mistakes you make and write down how to fix them or what you should do instead. Then go through that list after completing an exercise to check

whether you’ve made some of your usual mistakes and fix them. You can also revise the list before every test and exam to make yourself aware of the mistakes.

This way you train your brain to not lose marks on silly little mistakes.

3rd habit to becoming an excellent maths performer


Create Your own Study Material

Make your own notes to study from. You know yourself very well. Only you can create notes customised to suit your own needs. A teacher’s notes or friend’s notes might help, but you are better off studying from your own notes. Let me tell you why:

  • Your notes should reflect your own learning style. Some people learn better from pictures and diagrams, some people learn better from lists. One person prefers examples of the problems, another prefers a short explanation of the method and yet another only needs to know what the formulae are and how to apply them. Include the things in your notes that will help you learn best!
  • What do you need to study? You only need to study the things you don’t know… For example, you are learning about shapes in the classroom. You might know perfectly well what a rectangle is, you don’t need the definition in your notes. But you might be uncertain about the definition or even just the spelling of a parallelogram. You need to study the parallelogram and need that in your notes.

If your notes contains a lot of information which you already know – you waste valuable time while studying, going through things you know and you tire yourself before you start going through the things you didn’t know.

  • You learn from various resources – your teacher, your textbook, your exercise book, a tutor, a friend, extra textbooks, the internet, etc.

By making your own notes, you can combine the information in one place. You should constantly update your notes with information from all of the resources listed above, so that by the time the exam starts – you’re not feeling overwhelmed and all over the place. You know that everything you need to know is organised in one file or one notebook. You can simply go through your notes and maybe work out one or two practise papers.

  • Make a list of words with its definitions. Create a little dictionary of Mathematics words where you can look up the meaning if you need to. Keep this list with your notes and keep it for next years also – you can build onto it and refer back to past years.
  • Mathematics is a cumulative subject. Knowledge and concepts are constantly being built on previous knowledge. If you have notes from previous years – it gives you something to fall back on if you realise that you don’t remember past knowledge.

2nd habit to becoming an excellent maths performer


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2. Endurance / Persistence

When doing Mathematics, you have to develop a can-do attitude. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: The top Math students don’t always get it right the first time. Usually, they are the top Math students exactly because they struggle more than anyone else. This might seem contradictory, but by struggling and persisting until you solve a problem, you develop skills to solve similar problems. The more you constantly develop your problem solving skills by tackling challenging questions – the better you will become at it.

  • Never leave questions open. Try them to the best of your capabilities and knowledge.
  • Believe in yourself! Never tell yourself that you can’t do it – you can. Some questions may take longer, but you can do it!
  • You will get fit in problem solving. Just like running track. At the beginning it will be challenging, but if you keep on practising, it gets easier and easier to solve difficult problems.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, “Life’s battle doesn’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but in the end the man who wins in the man who thinks he can”

Blog material courtesy of guest blogger, Mrs Maths

1st habit to becoming an excellent maths performer

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This is the first in an eight part series by Mrs Maths of tips to becoming a star maths performer!

Active Learning

Become involved in your own learning process.

Prepare yourself for class by reading ahead. During lessons, try to predict the next steps before the teacher writes them down and have a notepad or book ready to quickly take note of anything new you learned each day.

If you watch a teacher do Math perfectly every single day in class – that will not make you a performer, you have to get your brain actively involved in the process and practise the Math on your own as well.

If you watch someone doing Math, the only thing you will become good at, is watching someone do Math. This statement is true. Roll up your socks and jump in! By being involved, by being active in your learning, you can become the master of Mathematics. The one who always knows the answer! The excellent performer.

Remember: Every Master was once a beginner!

8 habits to becoming an excellent maths performer – introduction

Maths learning tips

As a part of our quest to assist learners who lack the resources necessary to achieve excellent results in maths and science, we are excited to welcome to our blog an expert in maths education, Mrs Maths. Mrs Maths will, through weekly articles, supplement the educational video tutorials on our platform with other tips on how students can improve their performance in the classroom.

Mrs Maths, through hard work and dedication, herself excelled in academics at high school and was in fact the Dux Learner in her class for 12 consecutive years. After school, she studied a BSc degree majoring in Mathematics. In 2011 she finished her BSc Degree in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics and completed her Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in 2012.

Mrs Maths has since worked as a High School Mathematics teacher in South Africa and also abroad in the United Kingdom. She is absolutely passionate about Mathematics, education and helping students achieve their goals.

Currently, she focusses her time and energy on helping learners from across the country reach their potential via online videos (see her tutorials on hello tutor), blogging, social media support and personal tutoring. It’s a pleasure to welcome Mrs Maths to the hello tutor blogging team and we look forward to making use of her advice in our endeavour to do as well as we can in high school mathematics!

Watch this space for more on how to take your maths results to the next level!

online video lessons

How to make your very own video content on hello tutor

Make you on video lessons on hello tutor


Are you an aspiring educator? Do you want to make high-quality video lessons that are able to teach learners in the far corners of the globe? Well, making slick, well rehearsed, video content to put online is a valuable skill that will help you educate the world. In this blog post and linked video, I am going to give you a holistic introduction into how to make your very own online video content. The video will also go through an example from beginning to end.

1. Decide what you are going to teach.

You are probably here because you have a passion for the subject that you teach. So you probably know exactly what you want to teach, but we need to dig a bit deeper into what you are going to teach. Firstly, once you have picked a subject of interest, you need to know your audience. Ask yourself some of these questions, are your viewers young, old, what is their attention span? Do you need to make 2min videos with lots of animations, or 20min videos packed with information? Have you researched the type of videos people in your audience watch? 

Once you know who your audience is, ensure you follow a syllabus, or structure of some sort. If they are learning Grade 8 mathematics in South Africa, make sure they are learning exactly what they need to. Maybe you are just making an educational video on something that interests you, that’s great! Ensure viewers know that!

Lastly, I encourage you to start small. Practice making concise video lessons explaining one specific concept brilliantly. Make your video the best on hello tutor explaining one small topic, from there you can start interlinking your videos to follow on from one another. This will grow your audience, quality over quantity. 

2. How are you going to teach?

There are three main presenting styles to consider when making an online video. A video could also be a hybrid of a couple of types of presentation styles. There are:

i) Lecture style – Being filmed in front of a white/blackboard and giving a lecture. Whole body is being filmed. Natural for teachers.

ii) Tutoring style – Having your work pad filmed on either a workbook or computer. Typically only your hand will be filmed while it teaches the subject. Often filmed using a camera pointing down onto your desk. This is the khan-academy style.

iii) Animation style – This is a labour-intensive method often involving good editing software. This can be done on a power-point presentation and talking over it. This is a great method when animations can help explain how a chemical reaction works or how a car works etc.

3. Equipment and Software

Different equipment and software are needed depending on your video style. 

F=Free, FT=Free Trial 

If you are making a lecture style video lesson, ensure you use a good lapel mic, but you can get away with free movie editing software. Tutoring style is perhaps the easier cheaper of the methods to get started with. Using a mic is always a good idea. If you have access to an iPhone its mic is brilliant. Ensure you know how to edit out the noise in your audio using a program like Goldwave. Using something like a writing tablet can add a new dimension to your videos, this is easily bought online. If you want to try the animation style, start off with something like powerpoint. Ensure you set your slide size to a 16:9 ratio as this is what most youtube videos are made in. 

For a much better example on how to make an online video, ensure you watch below.


Matthew Henshall

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