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A Level Maths

Students will be encouraged to:

  • Develop their understanding of mathematics and mathematical processes in a way that promotes confidence and fosters enjoyment
  • Develop ability to reason logically and recognise incorrect reasoning, to generalize and to construct mathematical proofs
  • Extend their range of mathematical skills and techniques and use them in more difficult, unstructured problems
  • Develop an understanding of coherence and progression in mathematics and of how different areas of mathematics can be connected
  • Recognise how a situation may be represented mathematically and understand the relationship between real world problems and standard and other mathematical models and how these can be refined and improved
  • Use mathematics as an effective means of communication & read and comprehend mathematical arguments and articles concerning applications of mathematics
  • Acquire the skills needed to use technology such as calculators and computers effectively, recognise when such use may be inappropriate and be aware of limitations
  • Develop an awareness of the relevance of mathematics to other fields of study, to the world of work and to society in general
  • Take increasing responsibility for their own learning and the evaluation of their own mathematical development

What does it involve?

  • Core Course in Pure Mathematics - This extends GCSE work in algebra, coordinates and trigonometry whilst introducing new ideas and techniques, such as calculus, in abstract mathematical theory and the ideas of proof.
  • Applications to be chosen from;
    • Mechanics - This is a mathematical model in which systems of forces are analysed and the motion of bodies is considered by developing ideas such as acceleration, energy and momentum, which may have been met in Physics.
    • Statistics - This develops the ideas of probability and statistics met in GCSE mathematics, progressing to the modeling of real life situations with probability and the analysis of real life data in statistics. The emphasis is different from that in GCSE statistics and there is no coursework.
    • Decision Mathematics - In business and commerce there are many situations in which a decision has to be made requiring a different problem solving approach, such as How to plan a job to make the most efficient use of the time and skills of workers, whilst at the same time maximizing profits? The advances in computer technology have allowed mathematicians to develop methods to solve such problems. This is Decision Mathematics.
    • Further Pure Mathematics. There are 3 further pure units (FP1, FP2 and FP3) of which FP1 and one other unit need to be studied. The work covered extends the work of the Core Course and introduces topic of a more advanced and abstract nature such as matrices, complex numbers and differential equations.

For an AS in Mathematics, two Core units and one applications unit are required and for a full A level, four Core units and two applications units are required.

How is it assessed?
AS Level – Year 12
An AS in Mathematics requires 3 units, each unit having the same weighting and assessed by a written paper lasting 90 minutes. The units to be taken in June will be two Core units in Pure Mathematics (C1 and C2) and one applications unit.

A2 Level – Year 13
To complete a full A level in A2 requires 3 more units, each of the same weighting and each assessed by a written paper of 90 minutes. In general 2 units will be taken in January, the third Core unit in Pure Mathematics (C3) and an application unit, chosen to meet the wishes of each group, except for those who wish to study Decision Mathematics.

In general, 1 unit will be taken in June, the fourth Core unit in Pure Mathematics (C4).
Any group wishing to study Decision Mathematics will take the unit (D1) also in June. In June, FP1 and FP3 will be taken.

Are there any specific entry requirements?
Students who wish to take Mathematics in the sixth form should have taken the Higher Tier at GCSE and preferably gained a grade A.

Why is it a useful qualification?
Students who study mathematics in the sixth form can be classified into 3 broad types.

  • Students for whom Mathematics is a favourite and successful subject. Such students can do Mathematics but should also be thinking about Pure Mathematics or Further Mathematics and so should see the entries for these subjects. Such students are likely to be aiming to read a degree in Mathematics or a degree that involves Mathematics.
  • Students who wish to study other subjects where Mathematics is an important component such as Physics and Economics. Here again for good mathematicians Further Mathematics would be a good option but otherwise the Mechanics application would be a useful complement for Product Design and Physics, whilst the Statistics application complements Economics, Business Studies, Psychology, Geography and Biology.
  • Students whose other AS levels are not really related to Mathematics, such as French or English, but who enjoy Mathematics and who realise that in an increasingly mathematical world a Mathematics A level would be of use in the job market. Here the choice depends upon ability and interests.

Mathematics can be enjoyable and mathematics is useful in other subjects, but is it worth the effort as it is not an easy subject?
There is evidence to suggest that students who apply to University to study subjects such as Economics are given more favourable offers if they are studying A level Mathematics. Also research carried out at the London Institute of Education found that there is a high wage premium associated with having studied Mathematics at A level. Mathematics imparts those skills which directly increase productivity in the work place such as the ability to think logically and to solve complex problems. Success in Mathematics also shows that the student possesses essential qualities such as determination and perseverance.

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