How I found the Mathematics Test part of my Online Assessment

Mitchell WardIt was 8:30am on a Friday. I woke up, opened the curtains and remembered that today was the day that I was going to sit my test that would determine whether or not I would advance to the next stage of gaining a mathematics scholarship. After eating breakfast, having a shower and fitting in some morning revision, it was midday. And I was ready.

I first heard about the Institute of Mathematics’ scholarship in January and was determined to secure myself a place. After applying, I was invited to complete an online test which would comprise of questions that covered the GCSE and A-Level mathematics curriculum. I was not told how many questions there would be, but I was made aware that I would have 1 hour to complete the test. As the test date was approaching I was already nearing the end of a mathematics SKE (Subject Knowledge Enhancement) so I felt rather reassured that I had essentially spent the last 6 months revising for this test.

However, in preparation for the test, I began completing many A-Level past papers and discovered that despite months of learning the A-Level curriculum, I was still struggling with some questions. Consequently, I spent several days revising as much as I could since anything could come up on the test. Then, on the morning of, I knew it was time.

I logged onto the site and completed the practice test which was relatively easy. The practice test allowed me to correctly enter answers that I had never entered onto a computer before, such as differentials, quadratics, inverse trigonometric functions etc. With the 11th hour looming, I buckled up and took a deep breath as I began the test.

The test was 10 questions long, averaging around 6 minutes per question. I wondered if the questions would be the kind that consists of a paragraph if information before asking to find the value of x. Contrary to my musings, every single question presented an equation or function and asked to find the correct answer. There were no extensive bodies of text to slow me down, just equations or functions to solve. Surprisingly, found it easier than the past papers that I had been struggling with up to this point.

I completed the test in approximately 45 minutes and got told that I passed a few days later. My advice to anyone who is preparing for the test is to revise. Even if you think you will ace it, you never know if there is something that you may have forgotten how to do, so look up the GCSE and A-Level curriculum and complete papers that cover all topics. I would also stress that despite the 1-hour time limit to take your time with the questions. There were a few occasions that before submitting my answer to a question, I checked my work and found that I had made a mistake. Before submitting your answer, take a deep breath, relax, and triple check your work. If I had not done this, I would have failed on some relatively easy questions, and may have failed to secure a scholarship. Just remember that the scholarship is a great opportunity to take advantage of, so whilst you should take the test very seriously, being prepared and calm, I believe, is the key to success.

By Mitchell Ward