Gumley House School FCJ

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Mathematics (A Level)

Getting back to your square roots

Head of Department: Ms N Poynter

This course builds on the knowledge and skills that you acquired during your GCSE.  It will increase your understanding of familiar ideas and introduce you to new concepts and techniques.  You will apply mathematical ideas in the context of statistics and mechanics.

CURRICULUM INFORMATION (MATHEMATICS)

  • Entry Criteria for A Level Study:
    You should have at least a grade 7 in GCSE maths. The general Sixth Form entry requirements for A levels also apply - you need mostly 5s or higher across your GCSEs and ideally a 4 at GCSE English Language.
  • Exam Specification:  Edexcel
  • Curriculum Map and Learning Journey (KS3 to 5)

 

WHAT WILL I BE STUDYING ON THE COURSE?

The A Level Maths course follows several strands; two thirds of the content is Algebra/Calculus based, and one third is a mixture of the applied subjects Mechanics and Statistics. The A Level exam consists of three two-hour papers; the first two cover the Pure Maths content. The third paper will test the Applied Maths content: both Statistics and Mechanics.

You will study a combination of pure and applied mathematics.  There are no optional units, everyone studies the same material. About two thirds of the course is pure mathematics, one sixth statistics and one sixth mechanics. Mechanics builds on Newtonian ideas of motion and forces and is strongly linked to physics. Statistics allows us to make sense of the world around us through data analysis.  The key theme is a continued study of algebra and graphs.

WHAT WILL I BE DOING IN LESSONS?

In Year 12, the pure content starts with the algebraic expressions and equations first met in GCSE and goes on to cover graphs and their transformations. Sequences are taught using algebraic derivations and finally three new topics:  logarithms, differentiation and integration, are introduced. The applied paper content covers an introduction to mechanics (motion in a straight line and due to gravity) and the extension of some of the statistical techniques that were taught in GCSE. 

In Year 13, the applied content extends to resolving forces in Mechanics, and in Statistics, discrete random variables and the normal distribution. The pure content extends and enriches the skills of differentiation and integration and builds on the trigonometry learned at GCSE.

You will use a variety of methods and techniques to help you develop and understand the concepts and techniques used.

During lessons you will

  • extend your ability to solve equations in more complex situations, learn more about drawing graphs and be introduced to calculus, which is the foundation stone of much advanced mathematics 
  • investigate series, functions and graphs 
  • investigate practical problems in statistics and mechanics and write reports to explain what you have done 
  • work independently and in groups to tackle problems and then present the solution.

You will have six fifty-minute lessons per week, two of which will cover the applied topics. In addition to using a textbook, you will use websites such as examsolutions, physicsandmathstutor and drfrostmaths.

HOW WILL THE COURSE BE ASSESSED?

At the end of the second year, you sit three 2 hour exams that assess all the content covered during the two years of study.  Two of the papers cover Pure Maths, and the third paper covers the Applied (Mechanics and Statistics).

Paper 1Pure Mathematics 1  :  External written examination, 33.3% of A Level

Paper 2:  Pure Mathematics 2  :  External written examination, 33.3% of A Level

Paper 3Statistics and Mechanics  :  External written examination, 33.3% of A Level

WHICH OTHER SUBJECTS GO WELL WITH Maths?

The Statistics element of mathematics supports the study of subjects such as biology, business studies, economics, geography, psychology and sociology.  The Mechanics part of mathematics supports the study of physics. However, students do take mathematics with a wide range of other subjects including fine art, drama and theatre studies, photography and history. As such it is labelled as a ‘facilitating’ subject.

AND AFTER THE COURSE?

An A Level in Mathematics opens up career choices in actuary, accountancy, finance, industry, consultancy, operational or economic modelling, planning, analysis and post-graduate research. A study comparing income levels and educational background concluded that having a Maths A Level can increase long-term earning power by 7–10% (Source: London School of Economics).

Mathematics is also highly regarded and provides strong support to any application for employment or further study. The applied units in mechanics and/or statistics are necessary for many courses in science and engineering.  The statistics mathematics studied at A Level is very useful for many courses in the social sciences.

The study of pure mathematics develops logical thinking and a systematic approach to problem solving - attributes which are highly valued in the workplace.

WHICH EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS WILL I LEARN?

  • Strong literacy skills
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Analytical skills
  • Cultivation of a world view and a certain cultural sensitivity
  • Numeracy skills
  • Fieldwork techniques

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MATHS

Q:  I’ve heard that A level maths is hard. Is the step up from GCSE really big?
A:  The short answer is yes, and that is why mathematics is so rewarding and so well respected as a qualification.  Even if you have been good at maths since primary school, it is not possible to be successful at A level without putting in the time and effort. Homework cannot be quickly finished at the last minute, it takes time, around 4½ hours each week outside the classroom.  Once you have established a system with a good routine of doing some mathematics every day, you can make the step up.

Q:  What if I get stuck?
A:  We know that some of the maths content can be quite challenging, and we know that students need support. This is why we are exceptionally well resources in supporting students succeed.  Everyone will get stuck at some point, our aim is to help you progress a little bit further than you may feel comfortable, but support you as we do so, this helps you to make progress and develop into even better mathematicians.

Q:  What do you do in A level maths?
A:  A level mathematics builds on the algebra you studied at GCSE. We use the skills you learned solving equations, simultaneous equations and quadratic equations and extend them. Two thirds of the course is pure mathematics, but there is also one sixth mechanics, which links well with physics, and statistics, the study of data.

Q:  What are classes like?
A:  There are between 18 and 22 students in a mathematics class.  In a 100 minute lesson you will enjoy a variety of activities including working in pairs on mini-whiteboards, working in groups on a board on the wall, and working individually to consolidate your learning. Since everyone shares your passion for mathematics, there is a very supportive and productive atmosphere in the classroom.  

Q:  How is mathematics examined?
A:  At the end of the course there are three exam papers, each one is two hours long. Two of the papers are on pure maths and the final paper is on mechanics and statistics. During the course you will prepare for these exams by taking smaller tests and mock papers. There is no coursework, and there is no option in the topics studied.

HEAR FROM SOME OF OUR STUDENTS

CAREERS AND LABOUR MARKET INFORMATION

Please see below for careers and labour market information for Maths - use the refresh buttons to find out about different courses and careers, and use the left and right arrows to view more detailed information: