Mathematical Methods Units 3 and 4
Mathematical Methods covers four broad areas – Functions and graphs, Calculus, Algebra, Probability and statistics. Unit 3 begins with graphs of different functions, how to sketch them and find their equations. You will explore how to transform the functions graphically and algebraically.
The functions covered are varied: polynomials (parabolas, cubics and so on) logarithmic, exponential and trigonometry functions (sine, cos and tan).
In Calculus we look at the rates of change in these functions. You will use algebraic skills and graphs to analyse how rates of change affect each function. Calculus then continues from Unit 3 into Unit 4, where you study integration – how to find the area under the curve of a graphed function.
Many of the functions are applied to practical problems. Things like tide movements, growth in population, or temperature fluctuations, are some of the examples where functions and calculus are applied.
The final topic is Probability and statistics. Describing the outcomes of chance, working out probabilities and analysing statistical data are the main areas of this topic.
Algebra occurs throughout each topic. You use algebra to complete tasks in most weeks. Algebraic skills include simplifying expressions, setting up equations, identifying key information and interpreting answers.
Technology plays a role as well. You will use your CAS calculator to check your answers, graph and interpret information, and to investigate mathematical problems.
Who is it for?
Mathematical Methods is central to many areas of science and technology. It provides background in mathematics to understand the world around you and is often prerequisite for courses in Science and Technology. It provides a foundation for study in various fields, ranging from medical technology and engineering to economic predictions and statistical modelling.
While it is certainly helpful be good at maths, there is revision available to assist you to complete the subject. The key is to allocate regular study time and develop consistent study habits.
What do you do?
In graphing, you will explore the effects of transformations of a graph interactively. You will see how the equation of the graph changes when it is transformed.
In calculus, you explore the relationship between a graph and the way its gradient changes interactively. You will also develop algebraic skills to describe relationships and apply them in practical problems.
You will use your CAS calculator throughout to check answers and complete calculations
What skills do you need?
Mathematical Methods assumes some background skills: knowing how to graph straight lines and parabolas, factorise quadratics and find trigonometry ratios (sine, cos and tan). Algebraic skills such as substituting values into algebraic expressions and solving equations are an important part of each topic.
While we provide revision of many of these skills, a general review of algebra, graphing and trigonometry from Year 10 and Year 11 Maths is recommended.
What skills do you develop?
Mathematical Methods develops several skills:
- being able to sketch graphs of functions
- applying graph sketching to solve problems
- developing skills in manipulating equations
- solving equations of various functions, including trigonometry functions
- interpreting answers to practical problems
- using a CAS calculator efficiently to solve problems, check graphs and equations.
The purchase of the following textbook will also be required: Maths Quest 12, Mathematical Methods, published by Jacaranda.
You have the option of either purchasing the textbook or the eBook.
The purchase of the following book is recommended: Checkpoints 2018, VCE Mathematical Methods Units 3 and 4.
For this study, you will need access to a VCAA-approved CAS calculator.
The Maths Quest 12 textbook includes instructions for both TI-Nspire CAS and Casio ClassPad calculators. However, any of the VCAA-approved CAS calculators can be used.
Visit the VCAA website for further information on VCAA-approved calculators
Things to think about
It is important to be clear about your reasons for wanting to study Mathematical Methods. Is it something you are interested in, a prerequisite for future study, or some other reason?
If you like maths, Mathematical Methods will be interesting and sometimes challenging. If Maths is not your favourite subject, you may need to make time to revise topics and to include extra practice.
Think about your commitments. Can you make the time available each week for study and skills practice?
One thing we recommend is contacting your teacher whenever you have questions. You can progress through your studies much more quickly by asking for help when you have a question.
Things you can do now
To help you make an informed decision, try with the pre-test.
See what we recommend based on your pre-test here.
You can also speak to a maths methods teacher at the DECV to discuss things further to help you to make the best choice for you.
Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.
Things to have a look at
For maths revision in a range of topics the Purplemath site has many free review lessons.
This site includes movies on how to use the Ti-Nspire CX calculator.
The ClassPad Help site includes a series of videos on the how to use the Casio ClassPad calculator.