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A-Level Mathematics

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Why study Mathematics?

Exam board and specification code: Edexcel 9MA0

Mathematics is the language of science, and relates to almost every aspect of our daily lives. Without the logic, structure and precision of mathematics our understanding of the world we inhabit would be vastly and unrecognisably diminished (imagine a world with no computing, economics or communications technology).

A-Level Mathematics aims to provide the necessary framework for creating an in-depth understanding of the subject. Not only do students learn the language and structure of mathematics but also to create logical, step-by- step arguments and watertight proofs. Students also develop the ability to work through problems with care and accuracy, skills so transferable to the business world that A-Level Mathematics has the deserved reputation of being
the subject that employers and universities covet the most.

Grade 6 or above at GCSE or equivalent would be considered sufficient for entry to the course, although students on grade 6 would expect the first few weeks to be more difficult. There is a noticeable jump in difficulty between the first and second year of the course, with students on a C or below after year 1 generally finding the transition extremely difficult.

What is covered by the course?

Note. All content is now compulsory. You will study pure and applied maths in a 2:1 ratio. The applied maths consists of statistics and mechanics only. You will not sit external exams until the end of the second year.

Year 1 (AS)

You will study pure maths, statistics and mechanics. The pure maths will consist mainly of algebra, graphs, coordinate geometry, trigonometry and calculus and will take up about two thirds of the teaching time. You will also study some basic statistics (including sampling, probability and statistical distributions) and basic mechanics (including kinematics, statics and dynamics).

Year 2

The pure to applied split remains unchanged. You will be extending the concepts introduced in year 1 with particular focus on calculus, as well as sequences, series and vectors. You will continue with statistical distributions and hypothesis tests, as well as projectiles, friction and moments.

How is it examined?

You will sit three 2 hour exams at the end of two years with an average mark of about 80% sufficient for A grade. Paper 1 and 2 will cover the pure content (same on both papers) with paper 3 covering the statistics and mechanics.

Note – students who do not wish to continue to the full A-level can sit Year 1/AS exams at the end of the first year. These will consist of two papers, one pure and one applied.

Related university courses and careers?

Many degree subjects (e.g. Physics, Engineering, Computing and Economics) include Mathematics A-Level as part of the entry requirements. Others such as Medicine and Architecture don’t make it a necessity, but they still have a considerable amount of mathematical content so the subject gives students an advantage.

The transferable skills of analysis, logic and problem solving from algebra and probability, as well as the ability to clearly present arguments, are useful in almost any career.

Suggested reading:

Edexcel AS/A-Level Modular Mathematics individual modular textbooks

CGP Head Start to A-level Maths

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a- levels/mathematics-2017.html