I have received numerous questions on how to pass KCSE mathematics. I will describe some of the reasons why many students fail KCSE mathematics and what I did to pass. I hope the tips here will be of help to some one.
Many KCSE candidates argue that mathematics is the hardest subject. To me KCSE mathematics is one of the easiest subjects to pass.
Reasons why I think KCSE mathematics is one of the easiest subject.
1. Mathematics concepts never change and will never change. The way a problem was being solved in 19th century, it is the same way it is solved today in 21st century. In History, presidents of countries keep changing, you have to keep up with the changes to get questions right.
2. Mathematics formulas are the same geographically throughout the world. The way an American or Chinese student solves quadratic equation, it is the same way a Kenyan student does it.Mathematics formulas also never change with time.
3. Mathematics exams test the same thing every year. In every year’s exam,you will find a geometry, algebra or triangle….. question maths exam. By understanding the topics tested in mathematics you are guaranteed to pass.
5. Mathematics do not test specific answer, they test how you understand to solve a problem. You might miss the answer and still get a very high mark. This is different from subject like CRE which most students like. In CRE if you do not know mother of Jesus, you miss the full mark. CRE tests specific answer.
Reasons why many students fail in KCSE mathematics
1. Many students have a negative attitude towards mathematics even before going to high school.
2. Many students do not allocate sufficient time to study mathematics.
3. Many students do not even do maths home work. Maths home work is one of the best way to understand mathematics. NEVER COPY HOME WORK.
4. Many students blame their mathematics teacher. This is wrong. The fact that he/she is teaching mathematics, it means he/she passed his exams. So he/she is good in maths (I will never agree with the idea of students that the maths teachers are bad).
5. Most students do not know the KCSE maths exam format. Look at past KCSE papers, you will notice a certain trend. Specific questions come in section A (low marks) while others in Section B which has high marks. By knowing which areas to focus your revision, you will score high marks.
Find free KCSE Mathematics past papers with answers here: http://www.joshuaarimi.com/free-kcse-papers-i/
Ways to pass KCSE mathematics exams.
Warning: There is no quick remedy in passing mathematics. Mathematics requires practice, practice, practice, practice, practice….
I passed my KCSE mathematics exams very well. I did not regard myself as clever student, I was an average student who was in an average school but did very few things right. I will describe the things I did right to pass my KCSE mathematics exams.
1. I did not rely on the teacher to pass my KCSE maths exams. I knew I couldnot grasp all concepts when the teacher was in class, so I spared good amount of time every day to revise what we were taught in class.
2. Every student knows himself or herself. I used the technique that suited me. Doing something many times, helps it stick in my mind so this is what I did.
3.Solving mathematics problems was sometimes very demoralising for me. However, I did not shy away from trying a problem again and again. If I could not get it right after several trial, I approached good students for help, if not, I approached the teacher.
4. I ensured I had covered the whole syllabus by second term of 4th year (form 4) (not with the teacher, but by myself). This gave me whole two terms to revise, revise and revise.
5. I allocated more time in my personal time-table to mathematics. Because it is generally hard to grasp maths concept for the first time, I repeated same or similar problems regularly until they stuck in my head.
HOT POINT: After trying a maths problem, I closed my books and tried solving it in my head step by step (not cramming, but understanding what each step involved). This worked magic. Because if you can solve a problem in your head without looking at the book, then you are guaranteed to remember it in the exam!!!!!
Handling KCSE maths exam.
What I will describe here is what I did during actual maths exams. Other students approached in differently, that’s fine. I did what worked for me. Other approaches are good too.
I always started with Section A. But, I tried to solve every problem in Section A as fast as possible. I never wasted time in any question if I did not know how to solve it instantly. This means I spared good chunk of time for Section B.
I ensured I could solve all 6 problems in Section B (each was carrying 8 marks that time). This way, I was sure of atleast 42 marks (assuming I got 7 marks from 6 question). This is from Section B alone.
After solving problems in section B, I went back and looked at difficult problems in Section A. Since at this point I had calmed down, I could concentrate and sometimes I found myself solving some of the difficult problems.
If I didnot know how to solve a specific question, I avoided panicking, because it is counterproductive. I left that question and moved on.
I hope these tips will be of help. Please feel free to leave questions below in comments section.