Exams boards are organizations that conduct the GCSE maths Exams and offer the GCSE Qualification in several subjects. They are responsible for producing exam papers, marking and grading your exam work and giving you the GCSE Qualification.
Most of the exam boards offer qualifications which are accepted by several colleges not just in UK but all around the globe. These GCSE Qualifications are hence, internationally recognized.
Currently there are two separate set of exam boards for UK. One set of exam board is solely for England, Northern Ireland and Wales, while the other one is for Scotland. England has several exams boards, giving the schools and colleges a free choice to choose between any exam board depending on the subjects.
At the present, the state schools benefit from seven exam boards. These are as follows:
- Assessment and Qualification Alliance (AQA)
- University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
- Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)
- International Curriculum and Assessment Agency Examinations (ICAAE)
- Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR)
- Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC)
Out of all these boards, CCEA is the one that is most active inside the native Northern Ireland. The level of qualifications offered by these boards vary.
Boards ICAAE and CIE offer very specialized and limited qualifications so if you are thinking of taking GCSE Maths, it is better if you opt for boards other than ICAAE, as these boards are most common among students taking GCSE Maths .
Difference Between Exam Boards
A survey by the BBC in 2015 revealed that three out of the four main exam boards in UK had made their GCSE Maths exams too hard for the large number of candidates.
The only remaining board i.e AQA was also instructed to produce more challenging GCSE Maths exams to keep up with the standards of the rest of the three boards.
The government demanded the boards to make the GCSE Maths as well as GCSE English exams more rigorous and challenging for students.
A thorough analysis of several boards revealed that the GCSE Maths tests and GCSE Maths coursework offered by OCR, WJEC and Pearson fail to test the students at their utmost ability due to their higher difficulty level.
To be more specific, Pearson and WJEC Maths exams were so hard that the boundary for grade A had to be set below 50%.
Research revealed that the difficulty level of these exams would hinder even the brightest students from the top schools to obtain a good score.
As a result of which, the syllabus of these boards was made lenient in order to suit the skills level of students and reforms were introduced in the GCSE Maths content and syllabus which has now ensure that all the boards have nearly the same difficulty level while allowing the student to achieve the grade they deserve.
How to Choose the Right Exam board
Every student wants to have maximum chance of success in their GCSE maths and one way they can maximize their chances of a good grade is by choosing the exam board with which they feel the most comfortable.
The specifications, paper pattern and marking criteria varies from one exam board to another. Cost of the exams is also a fact which you might need to take into consideration.
How you find the paper of any exam board, depends solely on you, your preparation, skill level and your ability to deal with the hard parts of exam.
In order to decide which exam board to choose, try getting your hands on sample papers of all the exams boards you are considering. Spend some time analyzing those sample papers and solve them too if needed.
By solving the sample papers of different boards like OCR, Edexcel, you will get an idea of the question patterns, difficulty level, marking criteria and time duration of each exam. Find out which exam pattern suits you the most and go for that particular exam board.
The course content of GCSE Maths of all the Exam boards usually revolves around the basic concepts of Algebra, tricky yet simple questions related to addition and subtraction, fractions, arithmetic expressions, multiplication and division, exponent, integers, decimal numbers, rational numbers, whole numbers, square roots, along with some advanced topics like long division, linear equations, probability, quadratic equations, theorem of geometry related to shapes like triangles and polygons, surface area, differential equations, quotient equations, polynomials, number theory, reasoning questions and word problems to test your problem solving skills.
Equip yourself with all these concepts and maximize your practice because at the end, it will be your preparation that will determine your fate in GCSE Maths and not the choice of board. You can choose the easiest board out there but if your preparation is bad or incomplete, chances of you getting a good grade is very low.
GCSE Maths Resources
The internet is full of resources to help you in GCSE Math preparation. Here are some sources compiled for you to benefit from!
GCSE Maths Worksheets:
- GCSE Maths worksheets (Geometry)
- GCSE Foundation Maths Revision Worksheets
- GCSE Maths revision Worksheets
- GCSE Math Revision resources
Enroll yourself in a GCSE Maths program and take math classes designed around the GCSE Maths coursework. Ask your maths tutor to give you maths homework and complete these maths home assignments to test your mathematical concepts.
You can get home tutoring too. GCSE Math education is not hard to get in this age of internet. Opt for online GCSE Maths courses. Find interactive maths on the internet such as multiplication games, addition games and other similar online math games.
Practicing online with the help of mathematical courses, free math worksheets and online maths tutor and games will train you for the test, but prioritise studying from your GCSE Maths textbook and find past maths GCSE exams of your board. There is also a wealth of maths tutors available online or face to face for that extra bit of help.
GCSE Maths Past Papers
Solving GCSE Maths past papers is a genius way to undertake maths revision train yourself for the exam. This will help you get familiar with the paper pattern and marking criteria and will save you time during the actual exam. You can find past papers of your particular board on their website or you can buy a book containing past papers of all the previous years.
There are a lot of digital media such as CDs, DVDs that come loaded with past papers for GCSE maths revision along with the mark schemes. You might need to invest some money in these or you can simply find them online for free.
Once you get your study material ready, start your maths revision and once you are done with a particular topic, try finding its related questions in the past papers. Try solving them and if you fail to get their correct answer, go through that topic again and repeat this until you are correctly able to solve all the related questions in the past papers.
Solving past papers in this way, will help you not only save time but also to catch your weakness in time.
Once you are done with all your preparation, you can conduct your own mock GCSE Maths test session with the help of these past papers and see where you are lacking. Do not assume that the questions in the past exams will repeat.
This does not happen. If you prepare only according to the content in the past exams, you are setting yourself up for a really bad grade.
Past Papers are the best revision tool as they allow you to cover your entire course in less than 3 hours. Mark your answers yourself according to the marking criteria and this way you will be learning a lot from your own mistakes. This method will guarantee that you don’t make the same mistakes in the final GCSE Maths test.
The math questions found in the past papers are in coherence with the overall pattern of the exam board. These exams are designed to test your maths skills and the common core math concepts which you had studied in kindergarten, elementary math and high school maths.
Maths teachers who design GCSE Maths exam base the math curriculum of GCSE around the basic topics amalgamated with the more advanced maths topics of college level. These tests are structured to test your logical and analytical reasoning skills, your fluency in common math practices as well as your problem solving skills .
All the GCSE Maths boards focus on your maths skills and how you utilize your math lessons and apply your math learning to solve the tricky mathematics questions in the exams. These tests follow state standards and are carefully evaluated for the students to ensure they get the grades according to their preparation.
So, work hard, stay confident and make the best out of the great maths resources you have, and no one can take away the success which you deserve!