Studying maths at GCSE and A-level can open up so many doors for you – some that you might not even expect!

Maths is one of the core subjects that you have to study throughout primary and secondary school. You must learn maths at least up to GCSE level, but after that it’s up to you what you study and which subjects you pursue at A-level, whether it's maths or not.

See where maths could take you!
Maths can open so many doors and pathways for you! Photo via VisualHunt

Most universities, colleges and employers want to see that you’ve got at least a C grade in Maths and English at GCSE. In 2013, the government announced that all students in England now have to achieve a C grade and continue to study the subject until this happens.

University Subjects that Require Maths A-level

So we can see that maths is core knowledge, and not just a qualification that some colleges and universities prefer, but that they actually require for you to apply and study further.

Maths is a really important subject for so many courses at college and university. It is usually needed if you want to pursue subjects in the sciences, medicine and engineering to name a few.

Science subjects, as you will have seen from your Key Stage 3 and 4 studies, can contain a fair amount of maths. Calculations, equations and probability, for example, can all crop up in certain topics within the natural sciences.

For that reason alone, you might want to find the maths help you need to get the best possible grades.

This is why it’s so crucial to have maths under your belt if you want to study chemistry, physics or biology at A-level, and especially at university-level education. This also goes for other sciences that are available at university, such as biomedical science.

Studies have shown that if you study what are known as STEM subjects at A-level (science, technology, engineering or maths) then you could end up with a 15% salary advantage than those who don’t.

Similarly, with a university degree in a STEM subject, you could be earning anything up to £250,000 more that the average university graduate during your career.

For most STEM subjects you will need an A-level in maths, so now’s the time to start thinking ahead to your potential university and career prospects!

What Can I Study at A-Level with GCSE Maths?

Does your future career involve maths?
Maths after GCSE can be really important for your future! Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Maths can be a really important part of your academic future, so it’s important to think about what you might like to do after your GCSEs so that you have the right grades and the preparation you need to continue with certain studies.

With a GCSE in maths you could continue your maths study through to post-16 education. This could be A-levels, an international baccalaureate, BTEC, or an apprenticeship, for example.

It can be really hard to imagine what you might like to do further down the line, and you might have no idea whatsoever what kind of career you would like to pursue – and that’s fine!

If this is the case for you, just focus on which subjects you really enjoy studying and continue with those, things will start to fall into place and the right path will slowly take shape in front of you.

On the other hand, perhaps you know exactly where you want to end up professionally or at least in terms of which degree, course or apprenticeship you’d like to do later on. So now is the time to look around at course requirements and what A-levels you might need in order to apply for certain things after sixth form college.

A-Level Maths Course Requirements

If you choose do to a course such as maths or further maths, you will need a GCSE or equivalent, usually with a B-grade or higher. Some courses might accept a C-grade, but you will need to check this.

If you plan to do an international baccalaureate, it will be compulsory to take a maths subject. This could be maths at either higher or standard level, or maths studies which is a more basic maths course. You can also opt for further maths alongside your chosen maths pathway if you like, but access to this will depend on your GCSE maths grade.

If you’re unsure what post-16 courses your GCSEs will suit, or which university courses you’re A-levels or IB studies will suit later on, there are lots of helpful guides available, both online and on paper, to give you some direction. Speak to your school’s careers and further education advice centre, or visit the Prospects website  for help.

The most obvious choice for what maths can allow you to study is more maths!

If you really love the stuff and can’t get enough of it, you might consider taking it further for A-Level, including the possibility of further maths, and you might even think about a degree in the subject too.

But a GCSE in maths doesn’t mean you’re only destined for STEM subjects at A-level or further down the line at university. Maths has so many transferrable skills that you’ll find will help and come into play in all sorts of subjects, as well as many real life situations.

Maths revision GCSE is great for pretty much any subject as it allows you to:

  • Become more analytical and approach situations with an eye for detail
  • Be able to interpret information and recognise patterns or outliers
  • Develop problem-solving technique in both worded and numerical contexts
  • Carry out and present research

These are skills that will be applicable to all areas of study, so cultivating them now with GCSE and A-level maths will help you out with any subject you pursue along the course of your academic career, and later on in the professional world too.

What University Degrees Can I Consider with A-Level Maths?

Having an A-level or an IB higher level in maths can open up doors to all sorts of degrees at university. For some degree courses, maths GCSE is a preferred qualification, but you won’t need an A-Level in it.

For many degree courses, such as medical, scientific and of course, mathematical courses, it is compulsory that you have a GCSE and A-level in maths, and usually to quite a high level depending on the university.

Different universities will ask for different grades. This will depend on the university’s ranking, for example if it’s Oxford or Cambridge or a Russell Group university. It will also depend on the course ranking at the university and how subscribed the course is with prospective students.

Universities will have a course directory available, which you can find online or at an open day. This will tell you which courses the university offers, and what the course requirements are. You will learn from this if you need certain GCSEs or A-levels to be eligible to apply for the course.

You will find that maths is either required or preferred for many courses available at university, so it’s a good idea to check this out when making your A-level choices so that you can apply for the course later on with no problems or hurdles. It's incredibly disappointing to find out that you don't have the right preliminary qualifications to apply for the course you want! Now is the time to find a maths tutor to help bring your grades up if you are having trouble.

You may need maths for your university course
There are so many degrees where maths will come in handy! Photo via VisualHunt

So make sure early on that you are following the right course of study for the future. For example, if you are about to choose your A-levels and you know you would like to go on to study medicine at university, you will need to choose maths and sciences accordingly so that you will be eligible to apply for the place at university.

The most common courses that maths A-level students go on to take are:

  • Maths
  • Further maths
  • Natural science (physics, chemistry, biology)
  • Medicine, dentistry
  • Veterinary science
  • Engineering
  • Biomedical sciences
  • Pharmacology, physiotherapy
  • IT or computing
  • Economics
  • Business
  • Accountancy

Maths isn’t always necessary for certain courses, but it will help no end when it comes to subjects such as economics, business or accounting. You might need a minimum of a C grade for most courses like these, so make sure you do the right research if you want to apply for something like this.

For some subjects it is compulsory to have a GCSE and A-level or equivalent in maths. For courses such as maths, medicine, sciences (including biomedical) and engineering, for example, you will definitely need a qualification in maths to the highest level possible for your level of education.

For a degree in maths you will need a high grade in your post-16 course, and a higher level maths course if you take the IB. You will usually need further maths too as part of you’re a-level or IB course.

You can check all the necessary requirements for different courses on their online specification pages, or in the course directories at the sixth form, college or university. Make sure you carefully check what is required to apply for the course so that you can be considered.

Now join the discussion: are app-based math games and tools like calculators a big help in learning math?

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Ellen is a writer and translator with a passion for literature, traveling and learning new languages.