While most of us cringe at the thought of the simplest calculations, Sayali Wavhal, an 18-year-old maths wizkid battled her calculus woes and aced her HSc exam with a cent per cent score.
We all remember our sharp nosed bi-spectacled maths teacher who found reason to pick on us with her formulas derived and those that weren’t. Stereotypes and clichés of women struggling with maths don’t apply to Sayali. “I’ve never even heard that women aren’t good at maths,” she says.
She’s not new to perfecting her score. The high school student has been a topper since her first grade, while maths became her hot favourite after Class Four and never dropped in ranking since.
What attracted her to maths is probably something that puts others off maths quizzes. “I became a quiz junkie after Class Four. I started taking part in competitive exams, maths talent hunts, etc, and what really did it for me was my uncle.
I have always had fantastic teachers guiding me but my uncle was the one who roped me in early on. He taught me nifty tips and tricks that reduced my calculating time substantially and playing with these cheat codes really excited me,” explains Sayali.
Having patient and expressive maths teachers is rare and more often than not, it is that one teacher, who either makes a child fall in love with the subject or hate it forever.
Even Maths pros need some additional help. “In spite of doing well, I enrolled into Mahesh tutorials and it was a very smart decision. They were instrumental in helping me clarify my doubts and training me for competitive exams,” says Sayali.
She constantly hunted for avenues that challenged her and helped her bounce new ideas off.
“Group studies were another thing that worked. With maths, the more you practice the better you get. You can not solve all problems yourself. I would solve a set of questions and my friends would solve others and together we tackle a lot more,” she says.
Watch the clock
It’s easy to neglect health and food when one gets sucked into preparing for exams. “Fortunately, my mother was constantly keeping a tab on what I’m eating and would keep feeding me at regular intervals. She keeps saying I’m very weak and don’t eat enough,” she says.
Even wizkids can find problem areas once in a while. For Sayali, it was the mumbo jumbo of calculus and trigonometry. The tricky subjects required detailed explanation of concepts and thorough practice.
“With calculus one needs to know which concept to apply when. Since it has multiple concepts one needs to know which one would yield the correct result in the nick of time.
It’s all about performing under pressure,” she says. Trigonometry, on the other hand, needs a very good teacher because it’s hard to grasp the concepts without proper guidance.
Practising gives confidence. This is the one thing that will help you battle the bundle of nerves you become before you sit for your exams.
Nervousness is one of the biggest reasons why most people make mistakes during exams and tend to forget things that they know very well, so it’s best to tackle it head on with enough practice.