
Can everybody learn to do mathematics? 

Are there limits to how fast and how far a person can improve their maths? 

What's the best way to prepare for a maths exam? 

Should I mark my own work or have someone else mark it for me? (*Sometimes in algebra you might get an answer where it's not completely clear, e.g. if your answer is b+a and the answer in the book is a+b. If you're doing a lot of complicated algebra, it helps to have someone you can ask to doublecheck any occasional iffy answer.) . 

Is there much benefit from trying corrections? A second benefit comes through "error analysis", which is a fancy way of saying "work out what type of mistakes you're making". Maybe these are something fundamental, maybe they're just silly slips. Whatever they are, you need to think about how to avoid these mistakes in future… and especially in any exam. A third benefit of doing corrections is for your morale. No one likes getting a low score – that's just human nature. But if you can analyse your errors and correct them, then certainly you should take pride in that. 

What's the best way to do past papers? STAGE 2: CLOSED BOOK. Close up your notes or textbooks, except for any official formula sheet you are allowed in the exam. Mark each full question after doing it. DON'T RUSH – allow at least as much time as the real exam would allow. Corrections are vital here, so refer to your notes as needed when trying corrections. STAGE 3: FULL DRESS REHEARSAL. Do at least one paper under conditions as close as possible to the real exam. If the exam is at 9:30 a.m. and finishes at 11 a.m., then you should start and finish at those exact times without a break. No music, sitting upright at a desk. If you can hire a hall with a few hundred nervous perspiring teenagers in it then do so. (The last bit is going a bit far, but you get the idea.) 

How many past papers should I do for each exam? A common observation among teachers is that those kids who do many papers get much better results than those who only do a few. Well, that's probably true, though doing twenty practice papers for each exam is a big commitment of time! My last word on past papers is this: a few papers done thoughtfully can be much more effective than lots done in a slapdash way. Do the corrections carefully, think about what mistakes you're making and how to avoid these, and you can save time in the long run. 

Can individual tuition help me to improve my maths? Having many years of experience of tutoring, I know various "tricks of the trade". For example, if a younger student were to make the mistake 7 x 8 = 54, I get them to write down 5 6 7 8, 56=7x8 ten times, while reciting "five six seven eight, fiftysix is seven times eight". That always seems to do the trick! In general, for tutoring to work well, it is essential for the student to have a clear goal. For students studying towards GCSE or A level, then the goal is to get the best possible result in their exams. For others, the goal might be to move up a set at school… or at least avert any threat of moving down… 

Are there downsides to individual tuition? Some parents worry that the child might get confused by being shown different methods from the ones shown in school. As a tutor, I always allow students to use a method they know already, PROVIDED they are getting the answers right in a reasonable amount of time, and can use that method to answer the full range of possible questions. On the other hand, if they are getting lots of questions wrong… which is most often the case… well, they just have to adapt and learn my methods. In practice, this is hardly ever a significant problem. A much more important consideration is that of the timecommitment of the student. It's essential for the student to allow time to do additional homework, and to do it properly, including marking it and trying corrections. 

Have you ever given tuitions without giving homework? 

Do you tutor all ages and abilities? I'm not an expert regarding students with specific learning difficulties, but otherwise I've worked with a very wide range of abilities. I have seen students on the verge of dropping out of sixth form turn themselves around to get A grades in every modules. Others have gone from hating maths and being far below average in GCSE, to not only passing that but going on to A level maths and completing that too. Given time and effort, IT'S ALL POSSIBLE. 