# Tips and things I wish I knew when choosing Maths A or B

Mathematics A or Mathematics B: A reflection

Recalling when I was first choosing my mathematics module at the start of term 1, I chose Mathematics B without a doubt in hopes of challenging myself. After 14 weeks of heavy procrastination and peak revision periods, I guess I can say that I’ve had most of the first year mathematics experience. In this post I’ll be reflecting on how Mathematics went in first year, and hopefully address some of your concerns regarding your choice between Mathematics A and Mathematics B when you encounter this decision in the future!

One particular point about your decision in Mathematics A and B, is that it does not impact your module choices after first year. This is not the same for Statistics, of which B is required in order for you to be enrolled into Econometrics in second year.

To recap, both modules essentially covered the same topics, with Mathematics A covering more of the basics, and Mathematics B covering the topics in more depth. They are designed to bring everyone to the same page with regards to what mathematics is required for your future education in economics and are generally introductory concepts. A few key highlights of what we learnt in these courses are:

– Multi-variable differentiation

– Functions and its classifications

– Matrices

– Uses of exponents and growth in accounts

I’ll now address some of the differences and characteristics of the two mathematics modules. Regarding Mathematics A:

– More suitable for those who have not taken A level mathematics or equivalent, or less confident in their abilities in mathematics, as there is a substantial amount of focus on teaching the necessary skills required to understand the mathematics required at University level. Not to flex, but as a Mathematics B taker I found the Mathematics A course substantially easier than Mathematics B for the first few weeks.

– A benefit of taking Mathematics A is that you’ll be able to take more time off from studying to address other elements of your University life, which is reasonable given its your FIRST term of university!

Regarding Mathematics B:

– Requires stronger understanding and previous understanding mathematics, and hence would be suitable for those who performed well, or even decently, at pre-University mathematics.

– Requires more self-learning that Mathematics A, as there is more content being taught – expect around one or two more hours per week understanding the material, and probably a few more around test time.

– Doing the problem sets was imperative for testing and deepening your understanding. Trust me, thinking that you know about mathematics is different from doing it and confirming that you can apply that knowledge in context.

– Whilst it is not a requirement for any second year modules, doing Maths B will aid you in understanding more complex material presented in future modules.

– First test was somewhat challenging (particularly so because of the 15-marker question, which if you got wrong meant you lost 15 points! That’s a first gone!) The second test was easier though, and more people were able to achieve better grades in it.

At this point, I hope I haven’t discouraged you from taking Mathematics B! Fear not – the point of Mathematics modules in first year, even for Mathematics B, is to bring all students to the same page with regards to their mathematical ability. Whilst some aspects of it were challenging, it is definitely not impossible to learn. Here are a few tips to relieve some of your stress when studying Mathematics B:

1. Do some prior studying. I’ve found that some basic knowledge of the subjects goes a long way in helping you understand the more complicated material. Revise the rules of differentiation and integration. Remember what you were taught about functions. Learn a bit about matrices from Khan Academy. Remember, there are always resources online, and you can always check the previous year’s Moodle page for key materials used in the course.

2. Do some consistent revision. Rather than to leave everything until right before the test (which admittedly, I did) it’s best to do some revision right after each lecture and seminar session so you can build on your understanding while its still fresh. Don’t feel hesitant to contact your tutors and lecturers for extra help – its normal to not understand the content, and it would be less normal if you just kept it to yourself without seeking any help.

3. Remember, you can always drop to Mathematics A from Mathematics B before the first test, so give Mathematics B a go if you’re up for a challenge!

Ultimately, studying which stream of mathematics is your own decision – do not feel pressurized into choosing any stream because you feel inferior, or you feel that you must prove something. Choose what’s best for yourself!