A-Level Mathematics

 

Equipping Pupils For A Range Of Careers

Exam Board and Specification Codes: Edexcel (sometimes called Pearson Edexcel)

WHY STUDY MATHS?

A-Level Maths is required for a huge variety of courses at university, and in a huge variety of graduate jobs. Eugene Wigner wrote about the unreasonable effectiveness of Maths, and employers certainly seem to recognise this because people with A-Level Maths earn on average 10% more than otherwise similarly qualified people without A-Level Maths.

 

WHAT IS COVERED BY THE COURSE?

A-Level Maths deals with abstract and sometimes difficult concepts, but it always examines the knowledge and understanding of these concepts by means of practical questions.

The A-Level course involves both Pure Maths (previously called Core Maths) and Applications (previously called Applied Maths). All papers are calculator papers, and indeed knowing how to use a calculator well is an important part of the course. There is no coursework in A-Level Maths.

Pure Maths accounts for two-thirds of the course, and in Pure Maths we greatly extend the Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry studied at GCSE, as well as introducing a number of new topics such as Calculus, Logarithms and various methods to prove that a mathematical statement is correct. Students who have studied IGCSE Maths will have seen some Calculus before.

Applications accounts for one-thirds of the course, and in Applications we study Statistics and Mechanics. In Statistics, we look at the idea of sampling, at the presentation and interpretation of data, at probability, at the normal and binomial distributions (a distribution is essentially a pattern) and at the idea of hypothesis testing. Students also study a large dataset (of weather records) to familiarise themselves with the sorts of problems that arise when studying real world data. In Mechanics we look at the SI system of units, at kinematics (including the SUVAT equations), at Newton’s Laws of Motion and the concept of a force, and at moments (anybody who has even been on a seesaw will have an instinctive idea of how moments work).

There is no longer any choice in A-Level Maths. This means that students can no longer study any Decision Maths, nor can they study Double Statistics to avoid Mechanics. There is still considerable choice available to students studying Further Maths, and Further Maths is now the fastest growing major A-Level course in the country, and one that universities are increasingly keen on for a growing number of undergraduate courses.

 

In BRIEF

  • Papers 1 and 2 cover the Pure Maths part of the course
  • Paper 3 covers the Statistics and Mechanics part of the course – no longer any choice of Applications modules
  • All papers are 2 hours long
  • All papers are equally weighted
  • No coursework

HOW IS IT EXAMINED?

This is a new specification, and many aspects relating to the award of grades have not yet been decided. Edexcel expects the mark for a grade A to be around 75%, and the mark for a grade E to be around 35%. The A* grade will depend on all three papers equally, and for the first year at least will be awarded to the top 15% of all students finishing A-Level Maths.

 

RELATED UNIVERSITY COURSES?

A-Level Maths is required for a huge variety of courses at university including Maths, Physics, Engineering, Computing, Economics and Psychology. In addition, A-Level Maths is preferred for many other courses, including Business, Chemistry and Geography