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How to score well in algebra

Good grasp of algebra helps you learn integration and coordinate geometry as well

education Updated: Feb 15, 2012 15:36 IST

As you brace for the board exams, and prepare to crack the maths exam, getting on top of algebra can get you a sizeable cache of marks reserved for this stream of the subject.

A deeper understanding of algebra is also vital to other maths topics such as integration, coordinate geometry etc since algebraic terms and concepts get frequently used to solve those problems as well.

Ask the following questions of yourself: Why is this concept required? Where does it find application? How do we benefit from it? You will find the answers in two places in your textbook. Scan the introductory portion of any chapter which typically covers these aspects, but also look at the word problems at the end of the chapter. The word problems usually illustrate the application of the concept. If you want to know more about the topic, just search on the Internet for useful information on the specific topic and you will find plenty of it. Nrich.math.org of the University of Cambridge and www.khanacademy.org are two of my favourite sites, and there are many more.

The algebra syllabus for Class 12 board exams comprises matrices and determinants. A matrix is simply a set of numbers arranged in a rectangular table, but when you operate with those numbers using certain rules, different problems begin to find solution. For instance, matrices are used to solve a set of linear equations. The determinant rule can help find the area of a triangle. Parents who use excel sheets to create reports and budgets for their organisations are really working with matrices.

A good preparation hinges on the following actions:
1)
Understand what the key concepts are, and how they apply to real situations.
2) List down separately all those definitions, formulae, and rules that need to be remembered, and revise them frequently.
3) Look out for the different kinds of problems that arise in any given chapter. Remember, there are only a certain number of variations in the kind of questions that can be given to you. Every time you come across a question which looks different from what you have solved before, check if it fits the pattern of an earlier question, or that it’s a new variation.
4) Focus on the kind of questions in which you went wrong and understand why that happened. It might be a lack of conceptual understanding, in which case, take care to correct your basics.

This cyclical process will invariably get you good results.

The author is founder and director, Second School Smart Tuitions