MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics (A Grade 7 is highly recommended; Exceptional students can succeed with a Grade 6 at GCSE but this is unusual)
SUBJECT LEADER: Mr B Boxall
EXAMINATION BOARD: (OCR) MEI
A-LEVEL SYLLABUS: H640
What is A-Level Mathematics?
The course covers topics from Pure Mathematics (61%-67%) and both Mechanics (15% – 17%) and Statistics (18% – 22%). Students are also required to become familiar with a specific large data set which will be made available in advance of the final examinations.
Throughout the course students are required to demonstrate the following overarching knowledge and skills: mathematical argument, language and proof and mathematical problem solving, using a problem solving cycle and modelling. Knowledge is developed of the methods of how to do Mathematics. Calculators and formula books will not provide easy answers but understanding how we can use technology, in particular graphing tools and spreadsheets, will permeate the subject.
The course is assessed via three 2 hour exams:
Paper 1: Pure + Mechanics – 100 Marks
Paper 2: Pure + Statistics – 100 Marks
Paper 3: Pure + Comprehension – 75 Marks
Papers 1 & 2 have a section A of shorter questions with minimal reading and interpretation.
What makes a good Mathematician?
Successful A-Level mathematicians are prepared to persevere at problems, using other textbooks and web based resources outside of lessons when they need further guidance. Questions are multi-stage and it is essential to develop the ability to produce a logically progressive answer. The ability to manipulate fractions and algebraic expressions successfully is a key requirement at A-Level, so students selecting the course will need to be competent at this. Students studying the course having achieved a GCSE grade 6 would need to be extremely confident in their algebra skills. All students are expected to complete our “Transition Materials” towards the end of their summer holiday and hand them in at the end of the first week of A-Level study in preparation for an Algebra Test.
What can I expect to learn in Mathematics?
Pure Mathematics underpins the study of all other areas of mathematics and includes proof, algebra, trigonometry, calculus and vectors. Mechanics is the mathematics used to study the physical world, modelling the motion of objects and the forces acting on them, such as moments, where the turning effect of a force is considered. Statistics involves statistical sampling, data presentation and probability leading to the study of statistical distributions with special properties, such as the Binomial Distribution.
Sixth Form mathematicians are encouraged to attend conferences; for example, the University of London’s ‘Maths in Action’. Here students learn about topics varying from the mathematical modelling behind juggling to the maths in quantum physics’ string theory. A broader understanding of the subject is also encouraged by way of a reading list.
Where could Mathematics take me?
A-Level Mathematics is an excellent basis for a wide range of university courses and careers as the skills it develops are in high demand by employers and universities. In addition to developing the ability to solve problems and think logically, the study of Mathematics provides opportunities to develop team-working skills, resilience, effective communication of complex ideas and the ability to use your own initiative.
A-Level Mathematics supports the study of a wide range of other A-Level subjects. The Sciences all rely on good algebraic and graphical skills, statistical techniques and the use of a range of functions including logarithms and trigonometry. Economics, Psychology, Business, Computing and Geography all benefit from students having fluent and confident mathematical skills.
A good number of students have gone on to study Mathematics at university, including both Oxford and Cambridge. Other destinations include Mathematics and Engineering at Nottingham, as well as Economics, Biology, Law and French at various other universities. Please look also at Further Maths especially if you may want to study a Maths-based degree.