How to use these tips

These tips highlight some common mistakes made by students. They are collected under various subheadings to help you when you revise a particular topic.

General Advice

• The question papers assume that you will have all the equipment listed on the front cover. Make sure that you have all the items on this list the day before you go into the examination.
• Be aware of which formulae you will be given and which you will need to learn before the exam
• Make sure that your calculator is set to degree (deg) mode before you enter the examination.
• In reading graph questions it is very important that you make sure that you are reading the scales correctly. The horizontal and vertical axes may be scaled differently.
• If you are drawing a graph then you will need to plot points to within 1 mm and if the points lie on a curve, you need to join them with a smooth freehand curve. You should not join points on a curve with a series of straight lines. If the points lie on a straight line, however, then it is important to use a ruler to join them
• A minimum of three figure accuracy is required in questions where no accuracy is specified. In money questions answers to two decimal places are required.
• To achieve three figure accuracy in your answer you need to have at least four figures in your working. Best advice is to use the full calculator display throughout your working
• On the papers where you write your answer on the question paper, it is not acceptable to give a choice of answers on the answer line. Examiners will mark the worst answer in these cases.
• In construction questions you are expected to be able to find a locus using just a pair of compasses and a straight edge. Compass arcs showing your construction method are required so do not rub them out – they are an important part of your working.
• Diagrams in questions having ‘not to scale’ written by them usually require a calculation. Do not use these diagrams to take measurements from. If a triangle is right angled, isosceles or equilateral then the question will say so either specifically or by giving information about the edges or angles.
• You need to be careful with the use of the division symbol. In algebra questions a + b/2 is not the same thing as
(a + b)/2. The division line must cover everything that is to be divided by 2. The alternative is to use brackets to make your answer clear, as in (a + b)/2.
• You need to be careful with the use of the square root symbol. sqrt(x + 2)/3 is not the same thing as sqrt((x + 2)/3)
The symbol must cover everything that needs to be square rooted.
• In probability questions answers should be given in fractions or decimals. Answers in ratio form or in words are NOT acceptable. If you work with decimals or percentages then the 3 figure accuracy rule applies as well
• The question papers are set so that you have time to finish them and check your answers. It is important that you read the question carefully and not make instant assumptions about what you are being asked to do
• You are advised to show working as well as solutions as marks are awarded for the working even when answers may be incorrect. Marks are given for the work that you do correctly, not subtracted for the work that you get wrong


EXAMINER TIPS for IGCSE Mathematics 0580
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