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Help for A-Level Mathematics: A Complete Guide

By Laura, published on 01/12/2017 Blog > Academia > Maths > All You Need To Know About Taking Maths A Level

Why Learn Maths A-Level?

As you may already be aware, in the UK, there are three core subjects that you need to get by in most walks of life: English, Maths and Science. That is not to say, however, that you have to excel in all of these areas to get a good job, but you must display a certain level of academic ability in the three areas if you want to progress in both your education and career.

English and Maths are core subjects that allow employers to ascertain how good you are at communicating and using logic and sense. In any job application or interview, you will be asked to provide proof of your qualifications to date, with a focus on English and Maths. Photo by Robert Sheie on Visualhunt.com

You might have experienced, for instance, entry exams to get a place in your chosen secondary school. You may even have been asked to come in for an interview by your prospective sixth form college, during which they will no doubt discuss your level of education, including areas which you are doing well in and ones which you have clearly struggled with.

Remember that your all-round grades are more likely to be scrutinized in detail if you are looking to take the International Baccalaureate, as opposed to the familiar A Level, which requires you to take Maths, English, and a Science as higher or standard level subjects.

These individual areas, along with three additional subjects (usually Arts, Business Studies and Humanities subjects) are marked out of 7, and candidates must receive a minimum of 24 points to pass the course. This means that you must do relatively well in all subjects, achieving on average a 4 in each.

If you are applying to study a technical subject at college, then your Maths GCSE will almost certainly be a deciding factor in whether you can proceed on this route. Budding mathematicians will in no uncertain terms have to prove that they are cut out for the challenging next level of this area of study.

Key Skills Developed By Maths

By studying Maths, you can develop a range of skills that are sought after by employers and that will also help you throughout your day to day life.

For example, Maths encourages logical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving.

The Emphasis On Maths In The Workplace

Furthermore, if you haven’t already got a part-time job, you may not yet have completed an application form.

You’ll soon see that, on any professional application form for any type of role, you will be asked to confirm your qualifications to date, with a particular focus on the three aforementioned subjects. This is so that establishments can get a feel for your overall academic competencies, which reflect a number of key skills in business such as effective communication, adequate numeracy and logical thinking.

To add to that, Maths is a key area of study for those seeking a career in the Finance, Engineering and Information Technology industries. Just some jobs that are directly related to a Maths qualification are Chartered Accountant, Investment Analyst, Systems Developer and Secondary School Teacher of Maths.

A Level Maths – What To Expect From The Syllabus

Due to government-led changes to the education system in Britain, A Levels (like GCSEs) have undergone some changes in recent months, which are now beginning to emerge across the country.

For example, many of the principal exam boards have had to significantly change their course structure to create new qualifications designed to be the best and most rewarding experience for students. While the new changes represent the biggest in a generation, one of the main improvements is said to be the freedom offered to young mathematicians.

Despite there now being prescribed content, pupils can benefit from a wide range of themes which open them up to more opportunities. Thanks to recent changes to the syllabus, the teaching of Maths is said to offer students more freedom. Photo by blondinrikard on Visualhunt.com

The AQA A Level Mathematics (7357), which was taught from September 2017, with the first exams being sat in 2018 onwards, covers a broad range of Maths themes. Some of this content includes Trigonometry, Sequences and series, Exponentials and logarithms, Differentiation, Integration, Vectors, Statistical hypothesis testing, Kinematics as well as Algebra and functions.

Teachers of this specification will be encouraged to help students to make links between these various areas of Maths so that they can seek to apply their mathematical skills across all modules.

In addition, new resources and exams contribute in making the study of the themes clearer and more consistent so that teachers and students alike can feel confident that they have done all that they can before the exam.

This particular specification is assessed across three exams, each making up a third of your final grade. The exams are written assessments which last for 2 hours and include a mixture of question styles, from short, single-mark questions to multi-step problems racking up more in the way of points.

Past Papers And Revision Guides For A Level Maths

As with most subjects and courses, the best revision resources can often be found on the trusty exam boards’ websites! Take AQA, for instance, which has a dedicated page for past papers.

Since students on the current specification have yet to be tested, the exam board cannot offer past papers for you to look at. Instead, they have a collection of specimen question papers, along with notes and guidance along with mark schemes to give you an idea of what you can expect when it comes to your exams.

It is not only the exam boards that have been busy carrying out updates, academic publishers like CGP Books have subsequently had to edit their materials to reflect these changes. As such, as recently as this October just is gone, new revision materials were released by the publishing house for A Level students enrolled on the new AQA Maths course.

These paperback revision tools can be purchased online from a range of stockists, including the publisher’s own website, but are also available in some retail stores and bookshops.

Don’t leave it until it is too late to start revising, start thinking about past papers and revision guides now in preparation for your mock or real exams next summer!

Exam Timetables And Opportunities To Re-Sit

While we hope that you don’t wind up feeling disappointed with your end result, we understand that re-sits are inevitable within this area of study because of the significance of Maths to many, mainly for the reasons mentioned above.

The existing conditions for re-sitting exams are that you have the opportunity to re-sit an exam as many times as you feel necessary, in line with the exam’s shelf life. This means that, if the syllabus was to undergo further changes that led to an adapted course and assessment, then you may no longer be liable for a re-sit.

The main reasons for students re-taking exams are that they didn’t revise enough the first time around, they struggled to keep up with the course content, they didn’t quite achieve the grade they needed to progress in their education or they were affected by circumstances out of their control such as sickness or family problems.

Taking A Level Maths As A Mature Student

For some adults, a less than perfect grade back in their youth plays on their mind and affects their pride. Meanwhile others may have done a complete U-turn in their professional direction and now need a specific qualification to complete their training.

If you are one of these people who, for whatever reason, wants to revisit your A Level education and either take or re-take Maths, then you will be relieved to hear that is a relatively straightforward process.

While you have the opportunity to simply sit an exam with only independent study or a professional tutor to help you along the way, you do so at your own cost.

We would, however, advise that you enrol on a course either online (with the relevant teaching resources included) or at a nearby college.

Mature students have the opportunity in some cases to re-sit a Maths exam. No matter your age or circumstances, you can still go back and study towards a Maths A Level. Photo by University of Minnesota Duluth on VisualHunt

Many courses for mature students offer flexible learning patterns to work around your existing responsibilities and with varying lengths to accommodate your educational needs.

The Value Of Maths In Everyday Life

Maths is a highly useful subject to have, even if your anticipated degree path isn’t directly related to the area of study.

Maths lends itself to a range of transferable skills which could benefit you in your chosen subject, even if only to help you to apply a rational thought process. What’s more, basic Maths is also relevant to your everyday life as a student, including budgeting for rent and groceries.

Maths additionally makes a great joint subject, because it is so neutral and can offer a nice balance in your student life. It is easily combined with courses like History, English, Music as well as languages.

Moreover, if you do decide to throw yourself into your Maths studies and take it as a joint or individual degree at university, you could be looking to receive a better financial reward further down the line than some of your peers.

The prospects for Maths graduates are pretty high, especially if you study at an establishment that is highly-rated for its Maths department.

Careers involving Maths are usually permanent, which is promising if you are keen on finding a stable career, not to mention the fact that Maths graduates earn on average a much higher starting salary than other industries.

Along with this fantastic introductory pay package, the potential to move up the salary scale is a huge advantage for those number-crunching professionals.


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