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A-Level Maths: A Complete Guide

A-Level Maths: A Complete Guide

10 min Read|June 07 2024
|Written by:

Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Contents

Starting A-level Maths can feel like a big adventure. But what's really at the end of it? Is it just about doing hard maths problems, or is there more? Why should someone even take this subject? Is it worth it? A-level Maths is more than just numbers and formulas. It's a way to learn how to think clearly, solve tricky problems, and open doors to lots of different jobs. But, is it hard? And what good things come from taking on such a challenge? These questions are at the heart of why A-level Maths is special. It doesn't just teach you maths; it teaches you a new way to look at problems. Let's dig into the details and see what A-level Maths is all about.

Is A-Level Maths useful?

Absolutely, A level Maths is not just a subject; it's a critical tool that opens doors to various academic and career paths. According to the Joint Council for Qualifications, majority of the students in the UK took A level Maths in 2023, making it one of the most popular subjects. This popularity isn't without reason; here are a few ways A level Maths proves itself useful:

  • University Admissions: Many top universities prefer or require A level Maths for courses in engineering, physics, computer science, and economics, to name a few. It's seen as a testament to a student's analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Employability: A survey by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications shows that individuals with A level Maths earn, on average, 10% more than their peers without it. This statistic underscores the subject's value in the job market.
  • Cognitive Development: Experts argue that studying maths enhances logical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities—skills that are invaluable in both professional and personal life.

Here is what an expert A-Level Maths tutor has to say:

"A-Level Maths was the top choice for students, with around 90,000 students choosing it this year. That's about 11% of all students taking A-Levels in the UK! It's a subject that really makes you think and solve problems, which I believe is great and useful for lots of jobs in the future, especially for the STEM related ones."

number of students who gave A-Level Maths in past 10 years

Graph showing number of students who took A-Level Maths exams in the past 10 years in the UK

In short, A level Maths equips students with the foundational knowledge and skills essential for success in a wide range of fields, making it an invaluable part of secondary education.

Is A-Level Maths hard?

The perceived difficulty of A-Level Maths varies widely among students, but it's undeniable that it presents challenges that require dedication and hard work to overcome; therefore, it is considered one of the more challenging A levels. Key points include:

  • Complex Concepts: Students encounter advanced topics like calculus, trigonometry, and algebra, which are more abstract and complex than those in previous studies.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: A level Maths demands a high level of analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students must not only understand mathematical concepts but also apply them in various contexts.
  • Workload: The volume of content to cover and the pace at which it is taught can be daunting for many students.

YearA*ABCDEU
201916.3%24.2%17.9%16.6%13.5%8.3%3.2%
202023.4%26.2%20.3%16.5%9%4.2%0.4%
202128.3%26.1%18.3%13.2%8.3%4.8%1%
202222.8%24.3%16.2%15.1%12%7.4%2.2%
202316.5%24.5%19.1%15.8%12.4%8.1%3.6%

Table showing A-level Maths grades distribution

Maths falls number 5 in the list of hardest A-Level subjects, with a notable step up in difficulty from GCSE. However, with the right mindset, resources, and support, many students find A level Maths deeply rewarding and manageable. Success in this subject is often attributed to consistent practise, seeking help when needed, and a genuine interest in mathematics.

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What is studied in A-Level Maths?

A level Maths offers a comprehensive exploration of mathematical theories and applications, designed to build on the knowledge gained at GCSE. The curriculum is structured to develop students' understanding of mathematical reasoning, methodologies, and how to apply these in practical and abstract contexts. The core areas covered include:

  • Pure Maths: This forms the backbone of A level Maths, focusing on advanced algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and vectors. Pure Maths develops students' logical reasoning and analytical skills.
  • Statistics: Students learn about data collection, analysis, probability, and interpretation. This section is crucial for understanding real-world applications of maths, such as in the fields of science, business, and economics.
  • Mechanics: This area applies mathematical concepts to physical situations, dealing with forces, energy, motion, and the properties of materials. It's particularly relevant for students interested in engineering and physics.

CIE A-Level Maths Syllabus

Based on the Cambridge International AS & A Level Mathematics 9709 syllabus for the examination years 2023, 2024, and 2025, the syllabus is structured into six main content areas, with each corresponding to a specific paper for assessment.

PaperContent AreaTopics Covered
1Pure Mathematics 1Quadratics, Functions, Coordinate geometry, Circular measure, Trigonometry, Series, Differentiation, Integration
2Pure Mathematics 2Algebra, Logarithmic and exponential functions, Trigonometry, Differentiation, Integration, Numerical solution of equations
3Pure Mathematics 3Algebra, Logarithmic and exponential functions, Trigonometry, Differentiation, Integration, Vectors, Differential equations, Complex numbers
4MechanicsForces and equilibrium, Kinematics of motion in a straight line, Momentum, Newton’s laws of motion, Energy work and power
5Probability & Statistics 1Representation of data, Permutations and combinations, Probability, Discrete random variables, The normal distribution
6Probability & Statistics 2The Poisson distribution, Linear combinations of random variables, Continuous random variables, Sampling and estimation, Hypothesis tests

Table showing Cambridge International A-Level Maths Syllabus

Edexcel A-Level Maths Syllabus

The Edexcel A-Level Mathematics (9MA0), the syllabus includes three main components divided into Pure Mathematics, Statistics, and Mechanics. Here's a condensed table of the syllabus content:

PaperContent AreaTopics Covered
1Pure Mathematics 1Proof, Algebra and functions, Coordinate geometry in the (x, y) plane, Sequences and series, Trigonometry, Exponentials and logarithms, Differentiation, Integration, Numerical methods, Vectors
2Pure Mathematics 2Continuation of Pure Mathematics topics with advanced content
3Section A: StatisticsStatistical sampling, Data presentation and interpretation, Probability, Statistical distributions, Statistical hypothesis testing
3Section B: MechanicsQuantities and units in mechanics, Kinematics, Forces and Newton’s laws, Moments

Table showing Edexcel A-Level Maths Syllabus

These components are designed to not only advance students' mathematical skills but also to prepare them for further education and careers in areas requiring strong analytical and problem-solving abilities. The blend of theoretical and applied maths encourages a deeper understanding of the subject's relevance and applications.

What is the A-Level Maths exam structure?

The A-level Maths exam structure is carefully designed to assess a wide range of mathematical skills and understanding, providing a comprehensive evaluation of students' proficiency in the subject. The structure consists of several papers, each focusing on different areas of the curriculum:

  • Papers: Typically consists of 3 papers: 2 Pure Mathematics and 1 Applied Mathematics (Mechanics and/or Statistics).
  • Duration: Each paper is usually 2 hours long.
  • Type of Questions: A mix of short answer and longer, problem-solving questions.
  • Marking Scheme: Marks awarded for correct answers and method.
  • Weightage: Each paper constitutes to 33.3% of the grade and is of 100 marks each.

The A-level Maths exam structure is thus both challenging and comprehensive, designed to prepare students for further study and careers in fields that require strong mathematical skills. It encourages students to develop not just their mathematical knowledge, but also their analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and understanding of the practical applications of mathematics.

Choosing the Right Exam Board

Choosing the right exam board for A-Level Maths is crucial for aligning with your learning style, strengths, and future goals. In the UK, major exam boards such as AQA, Edexcel, OCR, and CIE each offer distinct A-Level Maths syllabuses, with variations in content focus, exam style, and support materials.

  • Syllabus Content: It's essential to compare the syllabuses. AQA, Edexcel, OCR, and CIE differ in how they balance pure mathematics with applied modules like mechanics and statistics. Your choice should reflect your interests and strengths in these areas.
  • Examination Style: The structure and format of exams can vary significantly. For example, Edexcel might offer a different approach to assessing problem-solving skills compared to AQA or OCR, with variations in the use of multiple-choice questions versus longer, written answers. Choose the board whose exam style best suits your test-taking strategies.
  • Support Materials: Each board provides a range of support materials, including textbooks, revision guides, and past papers. Edexcel and AQA, for instance, are known for their extensive resource libraries, which can be crucial for your preparation.
  • University Preferences: Although most universities accept qualifications from any board, some courses might prefer the syllabus of a specific board if it aligns more closely with their prerequisites. It's worth checking if your desired universities have a preference.
  • Feedback from Teachers and Students: Insights from teachers and peers who have experience with these boards can be invaluable. They can offer perspectives on the comprehensiveness of the syllabus, the fairness of exams, and the quality of support materials from boards like OCR and CIE.

Choosing between AQA, Edexcel, OCR, and CIE for A-Level Maths involves considering your personal learning preferences, the specifics of each board's syllabus and exam style, and the available support materials. This decision is a key part of ensuring that your A-Level studies set you up for success, both academically and in your future endeavors.

What are the best A-Levels to take with Maths?

Choosing the right A-Levels to complement Maths is crucial for students aiming to maximize their academic and career opportunities. Based on expert opinions and university admissions data, the most strategic subjects to pair with Maths include:

  • A-Level Further Maths: Nearly essential for those considering degrees in Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, or Computer Science, as it provides a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.
  • A-Level Physics: Recommended for students interested in engineering, aerospace, and other science-related fields. It illustrates the practical application of mathematical principles.
  • A-Level Computer Science: With the increasing demand for tech professionals, this subject pairs well with Maths, opening doors to careers in software development, data analysis, and cybersecurity.
  • A-Level Economics: For students leaning towards finance, economics, or business, combining Maths with Economics offers a strong foundation for understanding market theories and financial models.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences highlighted that over 85% of engineering and physical sciences undergraduates found A-Level Further Maths highly beneficial for their university studies. Engaging with these subjects not only enhances a student's analytical skills but also broadens their academic and career prospects in fields that are both rewarding and in high demand.

How do you get an A* in A-Level Maths?

Securing an A* in A level Maths requires a blend of strategic preparation, deep understanding of mathematical concepts, and effective exam technique. Achieving this top grade signifies not just proficiency but a high level of mastery in the subject. Here are essential strategies to aim for an A*:

  • Consistent Practise: Regularly solving problems from each topic is crucial. This not only enhances your problem-solving skills but also helps in retaining concepts longer.
  • Understanding, Not Memorization: Focus on understanding the underlying principles behind mathematical concepts instead of rote memorization. This deep comprehension enables you to apply knowledge to new and unfamiliar problems.
  • Time Management: Develop the ability to manage your time effectively during the exam. Practise past papers under timed conditions to improve your speed and accuracy.
  • Address Weak Points: Identify areas of weakness early and devote extra time to mastering these topics. Utilise resources like tutoring, online forums, or study groups for additional support.
  • Utilise Available Resources: Take advantage of textbooks, revision guides, online tutorials, and past papers provided by your exam board. Some should also consider study notes. These resources can provide valuable insights into exam patterns and typical question types. You can also make use of the A-Level Maths Q&A Revision Notes to help with your exams.
  • Seek Feedback: Regularly seek feedback on your work from teachers or A-level Maths tutors. Constructive criticism can help refine your approach and technique.
Grades distribution of A-Level Mathematics in UK 2021-2023

Graph showing grades distribution of A-Level Maths in UK 2021-2023

An A* in A level Maths is achieved through a combination of hard work, strategic study habits, and effective use of resources. It requires not just solving problems but solving them with understanding and efficiency.

Best A-Level Math Resources

Excelling in A-level Maths requires not only hard work and dedication but also the right resources. High-quality materials can make a significant difference in understanding complex concepts and improving problem-solving skills. Here are some of the best resources available for A-level Maths students:

  • Official Exam Board Materials: Each exam board offers a range of resources specifically designed for their syllabus, including textbooks, specimen papers, and mark schemes. These are invaluable for familiarizing yourself with the exam format and expectations.
  • Online Platforms: Websites such as Khan Academy, and other educational platforms, offer comprehensive lessons and practise exercises on a wide range of A-level Maths topics. They are excellent for reinforcing classroom learning and self-study.
  • Study Notes: Well-regarded study notes condense the syllabus into manageable summaries and provide tips on tackling exam questions. They're great for revision sessions and last-minute reviews.
  • Past Exam Papers: Practising past papers is crucial for success. They help students understand the type of questions asked, the level of difficulty, and time management during the exam.
  • Study Groups: Joining or forming study groups can provide support, motivation, and different perspectives on solving mathematical problems.
  • Tutoring Services: TutorChase provides services for students needing personalized help which can address their specific weaknesses and prepare them effectively for the exam.

Note: Only certain calculators are allowed in the exam. Here is a list of best approved A-Level maths calculators.

Utilising a combination of these resources can dramatically enhance a student's ability to grasp A-level Maths concepts and excel in their exams. Tailoring your study approach to include a mix of textbooks, online resources, and practical exercises can provide a well-rounded and effective preparation strategy.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Studying A-level Maths comes with its set of challenges, but with the right strategies and revision strategies, these obstacles can be overcome. Here's how:

  • Complex Problem-Solving: Many students struggle with the complexity of problems at A-level. To overcome this, practise regularly with a variety of problems, and don't shy away from challenging questions that push your understanding further.
  • Time Management: The vast syllabus and depth of understanding required can be overwhelming. Create a structured revision timetable that allocates time to different topics and stick to it diligently.
  • Exam Pressure: High stakes and the desire to achieve can lead to significant stress. Regular, timed practise under exam conditions can help build confidence and reduce anxiety.
  • Conceptual Understanding: Some students find it hard to grasp abstract concepts. Utilise visual aids, online tutorials, and group study sessions to explore different explanations and perspectives.
  • Staying Motivated: Long-term commitment can wane, especially when progress feels slow. Set small, achievable goals and reward yourself for meeting them to maintain motivation.

Remember, overcoming these challenges is part of the learning process. Persistence, the right resources, and seeking help when needed are key to success in A-level Maths.

Past Papers and Practise Questions

The use of past papers and practise questions is a cornerstone of effective A-level Maths preparation. Here's why and how to make the most of these resources:

  • Familiarity with Exam Format: Regular practise with past papers helps students become familiar with the exam's format, types of questions asked, and time constraints.
  • Application of Knowledge: Practise questions allow students to apply theoretical knowledge to solve problems, bridging the gap between understanding concepts and being able to use them in exams.
  • Identification of Weak Areas: By working through past papers, students can identify areas where they struggle and need further study, allowing targeted revision.
  • Improvement of Time Management: Timed practise sessions help improve speed and efficiency, crucial for completing exams within the allotted time.
  • Boost in Confidence: Completing past papers under exam conditions can boost confidence and reduce exam anxiety by simulating the experience of sitting for the actual exam.

For the best results, students should:

  • Start with questions from the topics they find most challenging to build strength in those areas.
  • Review solutions and mark schemes to understand examiners' expectations and the correct methodology.
  • Incorporate these practises into their study routine early and regularly for cumulative benefits.

By integrating past papers and practise questions into their revision strategy, A-level Maths students can significantly enhance their preparedness and performance in the final exams.

The Role of Further Maths in A-Levels

Further Maths A-Level plays a pivotal role in the UK education system, especially for students aiming for careers or further education in highly quantitative fields. Here’s why Further Maths is significant:

  • Depth of Knowledge: Further Maths deepens understanding of mathematical concepts introduced in A-level Maths, covering additional topics like complex numbers, matrices, and further calculus. This enhanced knowledge is invaluable for mathematically intensive university courses.
  • Competitive Edge: For students applying to top universities, particularly for courses in Mathematics, Engineering, Physics, and Computer Science, an A-level in Further Maths can give them a competitive advantage in the admissions process.
  • Preparation for Higher Education: The subject prepares students for the mathematical rigour of undergraduate studies, especially in STEM fields, by introducing them to advanced topics and problem-solving techniques.
  • Improved Problem-Solving Skills: Further Maths develops critical thinking and analytical skills. It challenges students to approach problems from different angles, fostering a deeper level of intellectual rigor.

To maximize the benefits of taking Further Maths, students should:

  • Engage with a variety of resources, including textbooks, online courses, and problem sheets, to cover the breadth of the syllabus.
  • Participate in maths challenges and Olympiads to enhance their problem-solving skills.
  • Work collaboratively with peers to discuss and solve complex problems, promoting a deeper understanding of the material.

Further Maths is not just an additional A-level subject but a key stepping stone for students looking to excel in mathematics and related disciplines at the university level and beyond.

Getting Extra Help: Tutoring and Online Forums

Seeking extra help through tutoring and online forums is a strategic move for A-level Maths students aiming to enhance their understanding and performance. Here's how these resources can make a difference:

  • Personalized Learning: Tutors can provide one-on-one support, tailoring their teaching methods to the student's individual learning style and addressing specific areas of difficulty.
  • Immediate Feedback: Unlike classroom settings, tutoring sessions offer immediate feedback on exercises and concepts, accelerating the learning process.
  • Access to Diverse Resources: Online forums and tutoring platforms offer a wealth of resources, including study guides, problem sets, and past exam papers, often for free or at a lower cost than traditional tutoring.
  • Community Support: Online forums provide a community of peers and educators who can offer advice, answer questions, and share their experiences and strategies for tackling the A-level Maths curriculum.

To maximize the benefits of these resources, students should:

  • Choose experienced A-level tutors with a track record of helping students achieve high grades.
  • Participate actively in online forums, asking questions, and engaging with other members' posts.
  • Use the resources and advice gained from tutoring and forums to guide independent study and revision sessions.

Incorporating tutoring and online forums into their study routine can significantly bolster students' confidence and competence in A-level Maths, leading to improved outcomes and readiness for university-level studies.

Opportunities with A-Level Maths

A-level Maths equips students with a wealth of knowledge and skills, offering numerous benefits and opening doors to a wide array of opportunities for both academic pursuits and career advancements.

Gender distribution across A-Level Mathematics

Pie chart showing gender distribution across A-Level Maths

Majors in Higher Education:

  • Engineering and Physics: Essential for understanding complex scientific concepts and applications.
  • Mathematics: Provides a solid foundation for further study in all areas of mathematics.
  • Computer Science: Prepares students for the computational and algorithmic thinking required in programming and software development.
  • Economics and Finance: Useful for analyzing data, financial forecasting, and understanding economic models.
  • Statistics: Offers tools for data analysis and interpretation, crucial for research and decision-making in various fields.

Career Paths:

  • Actuarial Science: Ideal for those interested in risk assessment and management in finance and insurance sectors.
  • Data Analysis and Statistics: For careers in data science, where analyzing and interpreting complex datasets is key.
  • Engineering: Provides the mathematical foundation necessary for all engineering disciplines.
  • Research and Academia: Prepares for a career in mathematical research or teaching at various educational levels.
  • Finance and Banking: Essential for roles in investment banking, financial planning, and economic analysis.

Skills Development:

  • Problem-Solving: Enhances the ability to tackle complex problems with logical and creative solutions.
  • Analytical Thinking: Develops the capacity to analyse and interpret data, leading to informed decision-making.
  • Quantitative Skills: Equips students with the ability to handle numerical data effectively.
  • Logical Reasoning: Improves the ability to reason logically and systematically through complex scenarios.
  • Attention to Detail: Fosters a meticulous approach to work, crucial for accuracy in mathematical calculations and analysis.

Taking A-level Maths not only boosts students' academic profiles but also enriches their analytical abilities, making them well-prepared for a variety of challenging university courses and highly sought after in competitive job markets.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Completing A-level Maths not only showcases your ability to navigate complex mathematical challenges but also opens up vast opportunities for further education and diverse career paths. It equips you with critical analytical and problem-solving skills, highly valued in various fields including STEM, finance, and beyond. As you move forward, consider leveraging this strong foundation by exploring further educational prospects or career avenues that interest you, staying engaged with ongoing learning to keep pace with new developments in the field, and networking to open up new opportunities. Your journey through A-level Maths will prepare you well for the next steps towards achieving your academic and professional goals.

FAQ

What grade is 70% in A-Level Maths?

In the A-level grading system, a score of 70% typically aligns with a grade B. However, it's important to note that A-level grades are often determined by a process called "grading on a curve," which means the specific percentage needed for each grade can vary depending on the overall performance of students in that exam year. Thus, while 70% is a good benchmark for a grade B, the exact grade boundaries may shift slightly from year to year.

Is 8 an A* in A-Level?

The grading scale that uses numbers (1-9) applies to GCSEs, not A-Levels. In the GCSE framework, an 8 is equivalent to an A* grade, signifying a high level of achievement. A-Levels, on the other hand, are graded from E to A*, with A* being the highest grade. Therefore, the concept of a grade 8 does not apply to A-Level qualifications.

How many people got an A* in maths?

The number of students achieving an A* in A-Level Maths varies each year, influenced by factors such as the difficulty of the exam, the cohort's overall performance, and changes in educational standards. This year 14,825 students got A* in A-level maths in the UK. Typically, A-Level results are published annually by examination boards in the UK, such as AQA, OCR, and Edexcel, providing detailed statistics on pass rates and grade distributions. For the most recent and specific figures, it's advisable to consult the latest results release from these examination boards or the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which oversees the provision of A-Levels in the UK. These releases offer a comprehensive breakdown of achievements, including the number of A* grades awarded in maths and other subjects.

Can I do A-Level maths with a 5?

Admission requirements for A-Level Maths vary between schools and colleges, but generally, a grade 5 at GCSE Maths, which is considered a strong pass (equivalent to a high C or low B in the old grading system), might be on the lower end for direct entry into A-Level Maths. Many institutions prefer students to have at least a grade 6 or above, as A-Level Maths is significantly more challenging and builds on the knowledge and skills developed at GCSE level. If you're passionate about taking A-Level Maths but have a grade 5, it's worth discussing your options with your teachers or the admissions team at the institution. Some may offer conditional places based on additional assessments or recommend completing a foundation year to strengthen your skills before progressing.

Why is A-Level Maths so popular?

A-Level Maths is popular for several reasons. Firstly, it develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are valuable in both academic and real-world contexts. These skills are highly sought after by employers and universities alike, making A-Level Maths a strong addition to any CV or university application. Secondly, it serves as a foundational subject for a wide range of higher education courses, including engineering, physics, computer science, and economics, among others. The subject's versatility means that it opens doors to numerous career paths. Additionally, students often find A-Level Maths rewarding due to the satisfaction of solving complex problems and the clear progression in topic difficulty, which can enhance their analytical abilities and intellectual growth.

Can you teach yourself A-Level Maths?

Teaching yourself A-Level Maths is certainly possible, but it requires a high level of dedication, self-discipline, and access to the right resources. Unlike classroom learning, where a teacher guides you through the curriculum and provides immediate feedback, self-study demands that you independently find materials, understand complex concepts, and evaluate your own progress. Many online platforms, textbooks, and resources are available to support self-learners, including video tutorials, practice papers, and forums for discussion. Success in self-teaching A-Level Maths also hinges on maintaining a consistent study schedule, actively seeking help when needed, and regularly practicing problem-solving. It's a challenging journey, but with perseverance and the right approach, it can be a rewarding one.

Is B in A-Level maths good?

Achieving a B in A-Level Maths is a commendable accomplishment, reflecting a strong understanding and ability in a subject known for its rigor and depth. This grade signifies above-average performance, demonstrating that the student has grasped the challenging concepts and problem-solving skills A-Level Maths requires. For many university courses and employers, a B grade in A-Level Maths is highly respected, given the subject's relevance to a variety of fields, including sciences, engineering, finance, and technology. While the most competitive courses or institutions might look for the highest grades, a B in A-Level Maths still opens numerous doors and is a testament to significant mathematical competence.

Is further maths harder than A-Level Maths?

Further Maths is indeed considered harder than A-Level Maths. It's designed as a supplementary course for those who have a strong interest and ability in mathematics. Further Maths builds on the concepts covered in A-Level Maths, introducing more complex topics and deeper mathematical theories. It often includes additional modules such as further calculus, complex numbers, matrices, and further mechanics, making it more challenging but also more stimulating for those passionate about maths. Students taking Further Maths are typically those looking to pursue mathematics, engineering, or other math-heavy subjects at university. The increased difficulty level of Further Maths is matched by its ability to significantly enhance a student's analytical and problem-solving skills, preparing them well for higher education and careers in mathematical fields.

What is the hardest chapter in A Level maths?

The perception of what constitutes the hardest chapter in A-Level Maths can vary significantly among students due to differences in learning styles, interests, and strengths. However, topics that often are considered challenging include:

  • Further Pure Mathematics: This includes complex numbers, matrices, and advanced calculus, which require abstract thinking and the application of multiple concepts learned both in A-Level Maths and within the Further Maths course itself.
  • Mechanics: Topics like circular motion and moments can be difficult because they not only involve complex mathematical techniques but also require a deep understanding of the physical principles underlying the problems.
  • Statistics: While not always seen as the hardest, statistics can be challenging due to the conceptual understanding needed to apply statistical models and methods accurately, as well as the significant amount of content to cover.

Overall, the hardest chapter is subjective and depends on individual aptitudes and preferences.

Which exam board is easiest for A-Level Maths?

The perceived difficulty of A-Level Maths can vary between exam boards, but it's important to note that all exam boards in the UK are regulated to ensure they meet specific standards and that their qualifications are of a comparable level. The main exam boards offering A-Level Maths in the UK are AQA, OCR, Edexcel (Pearson), and CCEA.

The "easiest" exam board is subjective and can depend on how students align with the style of questioning, the structure of the exam, and the topics emphasized by each board. Some students might find Edexcel's approach and resources more straightforward, while others might prefer the way AQA or OCR structures their exams and coursework. It's beneficial to look at past papers and syllabi from each exam board to determine which one best matches your learning style and strengths. However, the overall consensus is that no single exam board is significantly easier than the others; the choice should be based on personal preference and preparation strategy.

How important are A-Level Maths grades for university?

A-level Maths grades are highly important for university applications, especially for courses that require strong mathematical skills such as engineering, physics, computer science, economics, and naturally, mathematics itself. A strong grade in A-level Maths demonstrates to universities that the applicant possesses the analytical and problem-solving skills necessary for success in these subjects. For some competitive courses and universities, high grades in Maths and Further Maths can be a crucial part of the selection criteria. However, the importance of A-level Maths grades can vary depending on the course and institution. Some may require a minimum grade for entry, while others may place more emphasis on overall academic performance and other factors such as personal statements and interviews. For courses not directly related to Maths, the grade might be less critical but still contributes to the overall strength of the application.

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Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Written by: Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

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Rahil spent ten years working as private tutor, teaching students for GCSEs, A-Levels, and university admissions. During his PhD he published papers on modelling infectious disease epidemics and was a tutor to undergraduate and masters students for mathematics courses.

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