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How to Prepare for the OC Mathematical Reasoning Test

Child writing a mathematical equation in a white board

This article breaks down all you need to know about preparing your child for the Opportunity Class Mathematical Reasoning Test. 

The key takeaways:

  • The exam has 35 multiple-choice questions for 40 minutes of work. 
  • The mathematical reasoning component of the test assesses students on their ability to apply concepts learnt in the Australian Curriculum to novel problem-solving style questions. 
  • Students should prepare for the test by practising OC-style questions, honing in on their weaknesses and completing OC exams under timed conditions. 
  • One additional tip for students to maximise their results is for students to hone in on their mental maths skills so they can accurately compute numbers quickly without needing to complete extensive working out. 
Test Information

For the OC Mathematical Reasoning Exam

  • There are 35 multiple-choice questions.
  • The exam is completed in 40 minutes.

Students only have 1.1 minutes to answer each question. There is no additional reading time and no calculators are allowed in the test. 

What is Assessed in the Mathematical Reasoning Test?

The questions in the OC Mathematical Reasoning Test assess students’ understanding of maths concepts studied in school based on the Australian Curriculum. These topics include Number, Patterns and Algebra, Measurement (Length, Perimeter, Area, Volume, Angles and Time), and Chance. 

The OC test assesses these topic areas at a higher level of difficulty compared to what students are normally accustomed to in primary school. This is because the questions aim to assess students on their intuitive understanding of maths where students need to apply their knowledge to primarily problem-solving style questions. 

This is different from how maths is normally taught in primary school where there is a mix of straightforward ‘computation questions’ (e.g. 23 + 11 = 34) which assess a student’s understanding of the basics and some problem-solving activities. The OC test assumes that students have the requisite baseline of knowledge and go straight towards ‘problem solving’. 

Some examples of OC-style questions are shown below. 

Sample Questions

The following question is from NESA’s sample OC/Selective Exam provided on their website. While the question broadly assesses basic skills such as pattern recognition and addition, these fundamental concepts are assessed in a problem-solving format. 

Source: NESA Sample OC/Selective Mathematical Reasoning Test

Another example from the same paper is Question 33 which assesses students’ understanding of ‘Chance’. Immediately, students need to apply basic concepts to solving problems. 

Source: NESA Sample OC/Selective Mathematical Reasoning Test

How to Prepare for the Test

Performing well in Maths comes down to students having an intuitive understanding of how mathematical concepts apply and knowing how to apply their knowledge to novel problem-solving questions. Students can develop these skills through targeted practice. 

Here are three steps students can take to prepare for the test. 

Step 1: Revise Basic Concepts

Students need to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of all concepts covered in the Australian Curriculum. This includes concepts such as calculating area, volume, chance and confidently knowing how to use all four operations to calculate addition/subtraction/multiplication/division problems. 

As a side note, students should also create summary sheets for each topic area with each of the key formulae. Summary sheets are useful reference tools students can have at their side while completing workbook exercises. 

Another crucial element of revising basic concepts is that students should know all their times tables off by heart. This assists students significantly with completing basic numerical computations in the test.

Step 2: Practise as Many OC-Style Questions as Possible

The next stage of a student’s preparation is to complete as many OC-style exercises as possible. This will help students become familiar with the style of question assessed and help them refine their problem-solving skills. 

Students can find OC-style workbook exercises in practice books available at local education bookstores. When selecting a book, students should ensure the book has fully worked solutions to each question at the end of the book that they can refer to. 

While students should practise as much as possible, students also need to ensure they are completing ‘quality practice’ that will maximise what they learn in each study session. This involves the following:

  • Students should focus on understanding the intuition (i.e. the ‘how’) behind solving a problem rather than ROTE-learning solutions. 
  • Students should also focus on questions that target their weaknesses. There’s little point in students spending a lot of time practising questions they already know how to solve reasonably well.
Step 3: Complete Exams Under Timed Conditions

As students become more confident with completing OC workbook exercises, they can gradually transition to completing OC exams under timed conditions. This will help consolidate their existing knowledge whilst also practising exam technique and answering questions under timed pressure. This is a crucial part of their preparation.

One Extra Tip For Students to Maximise their Results

One final tip to help students succeed in the OC Mathematical Reasoning exam is for them to revise mental maths strategies so they can complete questions faster in timed conditions. For instance, students should learn mental strategies to add numbers, this saving them the time they would have otherwise spent on writing out a lengthy addition algorithm. In a timed environment, every second counts!! 

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