Mathematics A/B

Back to guide home page.


Most of the lecture notes are already in the lecture booklet. This means it is easier to make fewer notes during the lectures so you can spend more time concentrating on the lecture itself. Try to prioritise understanding concepts as it is not possible to memorise all information thrown your way. A copy of the notes annotated by the lecturer will be uploaded onto Moodle afterwards (though some lecturers may take a few days to upload them). Reading over previous lecture notes and making sure you understand them is important as lectures usually build on each other.


At the start of each term, a booklet of questions is given which contains the supervision questions to accompany the lectures. Your supervisor decides which questions you do each week. The length of the questions varies quite a bit so some weeks you might do a few longer answer questions and other weeks you might do more shorter answer questions. Supervision time is mostly taken up with going through the corrections to your answers.


You will have sessions and lectures on Scientific Computing with three assessed exercises. The coding language used is Python and you will mainly work with Matplotlib and NumPy. Make the most out of the practical sessions when people will be around to help you – it is possible to do the majority of each assessed exercise if you work fast. The course handbook and lab notebooks should have everything you need to know to complete the task. Ask a friend or demonstrator if you get stuck and try not to spend forever on each task – just make sure you do everything required (e.g. axis labels, suitable scale) to score. Look back over and remember the coding you have done in previous weeks – you don’t want to restart learning all the code from week 1 every session!


The best way to revise maths is to practice doing supervision and past paper questions. Don’t worry about doing the papers within the time until closer to the exam. You may not be able to answer some questions, so to prevent spending hours on a question, ask your friends/supervisor for help. It is useful to write down formulae that you need to learn on a few pages as a reference. Use the supervisor’s comments/answers to past paper questions to guide your revision. You may be asked to show a shorter proof from the lecture notes, but these questions are rare and they don’t carry a lot of marks. Additionally, many people say it is easier to practice deriving a formula very quickly instead of memorising it. Again, understanding is more important than memorising and will take far less time.


In the exam there are two sections – A and B. Section A has 10 short answer questions and only your final answers are marked; don’t worry about showing your method. If you can’t do a question, leave it and move on as each question is worth very little of your final mark. (Just for your reference, the whole of Section A is worth the same number of marks as one question from Section B). Section B has 10 questions, 2 of which are starred (*) and require knowledge from the Maths B course, although they can sometimes be easier than other questions if you have a good understanding. The rest relate to the Maths A course only. From these 10 you do a maximum of 5 questions. Technically, you are able to do more than 5 but only the 5 highest scoring questions will be taken, and as the exam is so time-pressured it’s very unlikely you’ll want to address more than 5. You will need to learn how to choose the questions that you will score most highly.

Useful resources

Back to guide home page.

Our Sponsors

Chesterford Research Park