A-Level Mathematics has a number of units that allow students to build on knowledge achieved at GCSE level. It is expected that students will achieve a grade C or above at GCSE before commencing A-Level Maths. You may choose to study A-Level Maths as it is a requirement for a specific degree course or just because you enjoy the subject and want to learn more.
Recently the number of students studying A-Level Maths has been increasing, possibly due to poorer job prospects. Some university admissions tutors see studying A-Level Maths as one way for students to push themselves academically, because they have chosen one of the more ‘difficult’ A-Level subjects.
There are a number of ‘core’ subjects defined for A-Level Mathematics. The Core Mathematics unit includes indices, coordinate geometry, graphs, differentiation, algebra, trigonometry and vectors.
Other units include:
- Further and Pure Mathematics will develop your knowledge and skills around complex numbers equations, coordinate systems, differential equations, series, Mclaurin and Taylor series and matrix algebra.
- Mechanics units will develop your knowledge and skills of areas such as mathematical models, kinematics, dynamics, vectors and statics, as well as centres of mass and collisions.
- Statistics will develop your knowledge of probability, representation and summary of data, correlation, regression, distributions, sampling and hypotheses
- Decision Mathematics includes algorithms, critical path analysis, route inspection problems, dynamic programming, linear programming, matchings and flows in networks.
A specific arrangement of units is required for certification, made up of AS-Level units and A2 level units. You will usually study six units; your sixth form or college will confirm the units available. The assessment for A-Level Maths is by 100% exam. The exams last for around 1 hour and 30 minutes and there is no coursework required.
Over the course, you will undergo at least 360 guided learning hours over a two-year period. These guided learning hours are levels set by the government on how much time the tutor at your sixth form or college has to be present to give guidance (such as lectures, tutorials etc.) towards your award.
By choosing to study A-Level Maths, you will develop your understanding of Maths, develop reasoning and extend your skills as well as being able to apply your skills and knowledge to the ‘real-world’. All A-Level Maths courses also provide opportunities for students to develop Key Skills such as Communication and Problem Solving.
The AS-Level Maths units are the equivalent of the first year of study of A-Level Maths. In total, you need to study three units to achieve the award, including core mathematics. The additional two units may be from pure mathematics, statistics, mechanics or decision mathematics.
- Core Mathematics includes indices, coordinate geometry and graphs and differentiation, algebra, trigonometry and vectors.
- Further and Pure Mathematics includes complex numbers equations, coordinate systems, differential equations, and series.
- Statistics includes probability, representation and summary of data, correlation.
- Mechanics includes mathematical models, kinematics, dynamics and vectors.
- Decision Mathematics includes algorithms, critical path analysis, route inspection problems and dynamic programming.
The A2 Maths is the equivalent of the second year of study of A-Level Maths. This is not a separate award. The A2 –Level Maths with the AS-Level Maths makes up the A-Level Maths.
A2-Level Maths will further your knowledge from AS-Level maths. The A2 units are often optional units that you may choose to meet the requirements of your university course or future career choices.
A-Level Maths Exam Board Information
Three main exam boards award AS-Level and A-Level Mathematics in the UK and the content and structure of the courses are very similar. It will depend on your college or sixth form as to which exam board will award your AS-Level or A-Level Maths.
- AQA award around 42% of all A-Levels in the UK. The specification for AQA A-Level Maths is here.
- Edexcel are another of the main UK Exam Boards and you can access the AS-Level and A-Level Maths specification here.
- The A-level Maths specification for the OCR Exam Board is available on their website.
- CCEA offer A-Level Maths for students in Northern Ireland and the specification is available here.
- WJEC A-Level Maths is available to England and Wales and the specification for is available from their website.
- University of Cambridge International Examinations offers A-Level Maths and the specification is available here.
A-Level Maths is a core requirement for degrees such as Mathematics, Physics and Engineering. It is often a requirement of Biological Sciences, Computer Science and Economics degrees.
You may also be considering a career in teaching. Because of the shortage of Maths teachers in the UK, the government are offering bursaries for those who train as Maths teachers. A-Level Maths is important for studying Pure Maths, or Maths-based degrees, such as statistics at university. These will then allow you to apply for a PGCE Maths degree so that you can teach.
Even if you are unsure of what career route you will choose, studying A-Level Maths helps to develop many skills, such as logic and reasoning, which can apply to any workplace.
Other Useful Information
- OCR has an extensive range of Question Papers on their website.
- Edexcel also offer the past five years of Question Papers awards.
- CCEA offer a variety of resources including past papers.
- Past papers are available here for the University of Cambridge International Examinations A-Level Maths.
- WJEC also offer past papers and WJEC with the National Grid for Learning Cymru offer A-Level Maths resources in both English and Cymraeg here.
- The mathcentre offers free maths support materials for post-GCSE maths.
- The Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching offers various GCSE topics that are ideal for refreshing your maths knowledge before you start A-Level Maths.
- Schoolworkout Maths offers A-Level Maths resources including revision questions for different units.