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# How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths? Tweet

Maths and statistics discussion, revision, exam and homework help.

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1. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Tomcrease)
I believe there is some edexcel M2 stuff in FSMQ, I didn't do FSMQ but some friends of mine did.
Yh your right, calculating variables when acceleration isn't constant, by using calculus.
2. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Boy_wonder_95)
To anyone whose currently in A2 doing A level Maths or has done it how hard is it to get the top grade? Do you have to be a natural genius at maths or will a lot of past papers do it?

And what are the grade boundaries for a A* in Core 3 & Core 4? Thanks.
It varies. Sometimes 68/75 only gives you a be, and you might need 71/75 for 90 UMS (scraping an A*). I hate it.

Towards the C3 exam I was floating around A*/A, and depending on the paper I would either miss those oh-so-important 2-3 marks or not. Luckily I got 92%, but plenty of people who just missed the A* would have been gutted and possibly better at the module than me as well. I think it's stupid how they've just raised the boundaries to 71/75 for an A* (once 68/75 was a B!) when they should really be making the paper harder. Everyone makes mistakes and so it's easy to miss the current A*s. Make the papers more challenging and you'll really start to filter out properly. In the UK Maths Olympiad they only deduct a maximum of 1 mark for stupid arithmetic mistakes, because that's not the point - the point is to test the knowledge.

The current Maths A* is all about practising over and over until you know every type of method you could possibly need, not about being good at maths imo. The A and A* grade hardly differentiates between anything other than who got lucky in the questions.

During my C3 exam there was a killer question which I knew I could have known how to do if I'd done a particular question in the textbook, and it took me about 1/2 an hour to work it out. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have got an A*. Completely down to luck in finally seeing how to do it.
3. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
I got an A* in January and I wouldn't say i'm all that smart. I'm just really good at forcing myself to do all the past papers available (I did OCR MEI so there were quite a few). Also I don't think OCR MEI is the hardest one around

I got 86 in C3 and 100 in C4 and i got an A* because the two averaged out to over 90%
4. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by shmuxel)
Calculus, Max/Min Points, Factor & remainder theorem are all C1 topics (I did AQA AS, while some friends did FSMQ). I'll give you Binomial expansion and trig identities as being C2, but they're the easy parts.

There is no M2 and S2 stuff in FSMQ, only M1 and s1
All those topics I've mentioned are in Edexcel Core 2.
And there's Binomial distribution from S2 and Variable acceleration from M2.

We're doing totally different exam boards.
5. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Junaid96)
It varies. Sometimes 68/75 only gives you a be, and you might need 71/75 for 90 UMS (scraping an A*). I hate it.

Towards the C3 exam I was floating around A*/A, and depending on the paper I would either miss those oh-so-important 2-3 marks or not. Luckily I got 92%, but plenty of people who just missed the A* would have been gutted and possibly better at the module than me as well. I think it's stupid how they've just raised the boundaries to 71/75 for an A* (once 68/75 was a B!) when they should really be making the paper harder. Everyone makes mistakes and so it's easy to miss the current A*s. Make the papers more challenging and you'll really start to filter out properly. In the UK Maths Olympiad they only deduct a maximum of 1 mark for stupid arithmetic mistakes, because that's not the point - the point is to test the knowledge.

The current Maths A* is all about practising over and over until you know every type of method you could possibly need, not about being good at maths imo. The A and A* grade hardly differentiates between anything other than who got lucky in the questions.

During my C3 exam there was a killer question which I knew I could have known how to do if I'd done a particular question in the textbook, and it took me about 1/2 an hour to work it out. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have got an A*. Completely down to luck in finally seeing how to do it.
Oh right thanks, and wow 71/75 is quite harsh for an A*! :O, Considering so many unis demand an A* in maths for certain courses (e.g Economics).
6. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Boy_wonder_95)
Oh right thanks, and wow 71/75 is quite harsh for an A*!

Not really

I believe it still has the highest proportion of achievers

General A levels = 8.2%

Math A level = 17.8%

Though, of course, FM A level = 25.7%

So, in reality, by asking for A* the universities are only asking you for a grade that nearly a fifth of A level mathematicians achieve
Last edited by TenOfThem; 02-08-2012 at 19:54.
7. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Cephalus)
You're right. And loool I did maths and further maths and I dont know what the binomial distribution is
Well did you do Statistics 2 as one of your modules?
8. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Boy_wonder_95)
Well did you do Statistics 2 as one of your modules?
Alas I did not. A shame really
9. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Cephalus)
Alas I did not. A shame really
Oh that explains why, S2 looks like an enjoyable and short module (theres only 5 topics ) and apparently people say it easier than S1 . I guess its a good module to contribute towards an A* in Further Maths.
Last edited by Boy_wonder_95; 02-08-2012 at 20:20.
10. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by TenOfThem)
Not really

I believe it still has the highest proportion of achievers

General A levels = 8.2%

Math A level = 17.8%

Though, of course, FM A level = 25.7%

So, in reality, by asking for A* the universities are only asking you for a grade that nearly a fifth of A level mathematicians achieve
But then again at most schools you would need a A at GCSE to do A level Maths and an A* to do Further compared to other A levels such as the humanities and languages where they would let anyone with a C or above do them; which may be why Maths has a higher percentage.
11. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
All I can say is, the A2 contents aren't hard but it's just exam pressure that gets you. It always gets me badly. And I definitely knows everything in it!
12. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by TenOfThem)
Not really

I believe it still has the highest proportion of achievers

General A levels = 8.2%

Math A level = 17.8%

Though, of course, FM A level = 25.7%

So, in reality, by asking for A* the universities are only asking you for a grade that nearly a fifth of A level mathematicians achieve
It's still about luck, though. The exams should be tougher, make you think more, and then allow more margin for error, as all other top end maths papers do (note the STEP and AEA boundaries - they're low)
13. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Boy_wonder_95)
But then again at most schools you would need a A at GCSE to do A level Maths and an A* to do Further compared to other A levels such as the humanities and languages where they would let anyone with a C or above do them; which may be why Maths has a higher percentage.
There are many reasons why it is higher

The point is ... you said it was a high score to ask for ... BUT ... universities want the best and by setting an expectation of A* they are still opening their doors to nearly 20% of students ... so it is a perfectly reasonable expectation
14. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
I do quite like maths but i'm too scared to do it at A-Level- I'm on course for a B at GCSE I think, I got two low b's in the tests i've had my results back for, but obviously I won't know for sure till August 23rd!
I asssume this isn't good enough to take it on for A2, although I am willing to try really hard- I am also intimidated by any potential masterminds also taking it, one of my friends gets a*s in maths and I don't want to kid myself. I'm scared to take the risk which could result in me failing an A2.
I plan to speak to my maths teacher about it on results day, has anyone got any advice please?
15. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Junaid96)
It's still about luck, though. The exams should be tougher, make you think more, and then allow more margin for error, as all other top end maths papers do (note the STEP and AEA boundaries - they're low)
I do not think it is about luck

I do think the exams should be more stretching

We have always had to have extra papers for Oxbridge and similar to differentiate in maths
16. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by wolf-pack)
I do quite like maths but i'm too scared to do it at A-Level- I'm on course for a B at GCSE I think, I got two low b's in the tests i've had my results back for, but obviously I won't know for sure till August 23rd!
I asssume this isn't good enough to take it on for A2, although I am willing to try really hard- I am also intimidated by any potential masterminds also taking it, one of my friends gets a*s in maths and I don't want to kid myself. I'm scared to take the risk which could result in me failing an A2.
I plan to speak to my maths teacher about it on results day, has anyone got any advice please?
Do you enjoy maths? Enjoying it is the most important thing in my mind. Also, how hard did you work, honestly, at gcse?
17. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by wolf-pack)
To be blunt ... a B at GCSE means there is a lot of Higher Maths that you do not really understand ... it depends what elements you have struggled with but the algebra parts are so essential to the A Level that ... unless you really understand that part I think A level Maths may be very hard

I am not saying do not try ... I have encouraged B grade students to take A Level ... often because they needed it as support for other subjects ... and they have been relatively successful ... so do talk to your teacher and listen to their advice
18. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Junaid96)
It's still about luck, though. The exams should be tougher, make you think more, and then allow more margin for error, as all other top end maths papers do (note the STEP and AEA boundaries - they're low)
No the boundaries for STEP are not low because they are hard. The grade you get at STEP is not calculated in the same way as the grade you get for A level
19. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Tomcrease)
Do you enjoy maths? Enjoying it is the most important thing in my mind. Also, how hard did you work, honestly, at gcse?
I honestly don't know- I am a good student but I think I could have done more, I seem to recall a lot of my time in maths spent saying that I couldn't do it, and saying that I was bored- it didn't help that I had some really badly behaved students in my class that my young teacher couldn't handle. I didn't realise I enjoyed the subject till around the mid- end of the year For my revision I found a man on YouTube who went though past papers and I really enjoyed it and couldn't believe how the answers were not always that hard to get.

(Original post by TenOfThem)
To be blunt ... a B at GCSE means there is a lot of Higher Maths that you do not really understand ... it depends what elements you have struggled with but the algebra parts are so essential to the A Level that ... unless you really understand that part I think A level Maths may be very hard

I am not saying do not try ... I have encouraged B grade students to take A Level ... often because they needed it as support for other subjects ... and they have been relatively successful ... so do talk to your teacher and listen to their advice
I thoroughly agree with the bit in bold, and am worried about not being able to keep up, although like I said, I am willing to work hard.
Algebra is in fact my favourite element of maths, i'm not an algebraic genious with the more complex problems, but i'm not bad and I do enjoy it.
20. Re: How hard is it to get an A* in A level Maths?
(Original post by Cephalus)
No the boundaries for STEP are not low because they are hard. The grade you get at STEP is not calculated in the same way as the grade you get for A level
I thought they were about 80/120 for a 1? I know how STEP is calculated, I've had a go at them.