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The Mathematics Subject Guide. Mathematics is a subject you start to study early in your school life starting with simple counting and sums. If you study it up to university level it becomes vast subject. It can be very abstract and logical thinking plays a huge part in formulating new developments. The applications for advanced mathematics can be found in everything around us.



Mathematics is a very popular subject which is studied from a very young age in schools, and can be carried on to higher levels at university.

Mathematics is used in many areas, including science based fields, engineering, healthcare, and the social sciences like economics and accounting.


The GCSE in Mathematics is usually taken in year 11 at secondary school. It is occasionally taken earlier, or later by adults returning to education. It remains as one of the subjects required in some cases to begin A-level studies, in any subject not including maths.

It covers basic principles of mathematics such as number, algebra, shape, space and measure and statistics. Some people may also take an additional GCSE in statistics or even Additional Maths for that matter; though this does depend on your school and also your exam board.

Read the main GCSE article.

A Level

The A-level in Mathematics is normally taken directly after GCSEs by school leavers, although again may be taken earlier or later dependent on personal choice.

The A-level builds on GCSE knowledge, but with much more flexibility in the topics studied. Most maths courses cover pure/core mathematics topics, with a selection of other modules such as statistics, mechanics or discrete areas of maths. Some modules in A-Level Maths also touch upon certain areas of physics. Some students can choose to opt for an extra AS or A-level in further maths, where more modules can be covered. With certain exam boards a third 'additional further maths' A Level may be studied. The full A-level usually takes 2 years.

Read the main A Level article.

International Baccalaureate

The IB is a qualification usually taken instead of A-levels. Its often taken by international schools or at certain UK schools, due to its increased flexibility. Mathematics must be included in some form on the diploma program. Students can choose from Mathematical Studies SL, Mathematics SL or Mathematics HL.

Mathematics Studies SL is perfect for students who have no great interest in Maths or don't require it for university entry. A vast range of topics are studied: Algebra, Co-ordinate Geometry, Trigonometry, Basic Statistics, Further Statistics, Logic, Financial Mathematics, Probability, Functions, Introductory Differential Calculus Students are assessed by two external examination papers, each worth 40%, and one internally assessed project.

IB Diploma Information

Scottish Standard Grade

This is the Scottish equivalent to GCSEs, usually sat a year earlier than GCSEs, in the 4th year of secondary school. Similar topics to the GCSE will be covered.

Mathematics Standard Grade

Scottish Higher

This is the Scottish equivalent to A-levels. The higher is taken in the 5th year of secondary school, and people can opt to sit an Advanced higher in their 6th year. Similar topics to the A-level will be studied.


Mathematics remains a popular subject at university with over 70 institutions in the UK offering some sort of mathematics course. Degree Level

The Course

Mathematics courses can vary hugely in content. Many will have some pure areas of study covering areas like algebra and analysis. Others could be more focuses on one or more applied area such as mechanics, statistics, finance or other applications. Most universities will offer a range of modules covering all these areas.


To apply for mathematics you will need to have some level of advanced school study involving mathematics, such as A Level maths or Scottish Highers Mathematics. A Level Further Mathematics would also help your application. Normally an A at A Level will be required by most institutions, though in some cases a B may be enough.

Personal Statements

If you've decided to apply for mathematics at university and need help with your personal statement, there are several mathematics statements in our Personal Statement Library which may give you some ideas (but please don't plagiarise them by copying and pasting bits).

Mathematics Personal Statements

Study Help

Mathematics is often best learnt through practice. Having a go at a large number of different questions on a topic can help you develop your understanding and highlight any aspects which you have trouble with.

We have a small number of revision questions for you to have a go at. Once you've attempted them, why not check your answers with the revision solutions?

For mathematics study help, from revision sites, to general reading web sites, why not take a look at our list of useful maths websites?

Revision Notes

If you want help revising a maths topic, have a look at our mathematics revision notes. Our notes cover all the different exams in mathematics from KSE, GCSE and A Level to the International Baccalaureate, Scottish qualifications and university level mathematics.

If you have your own maths revision notes, you can add them to our revision notes library to fill any areas we might not cover. Also feel free to add to and develop any existing notes.

Past Exam Papers

Past exam papers are an excellent way to practice maths and prepare for exams. Have a look at the list maths past papers, Maths Past Papers for places you can find some of them. If the paper you want is not on the list, you can ask for it on the forum 'Past Paper Threads' in the forums - GCSE past papers, A Level past papers, IB past papers.

Other Info


If you have left school without a mathematics qualification, such as a GCSE, you might want to get some sort of certificate in mathematics. A free standing mathematics qualification FSMQ might be what you need. It should be noted that FSMQ is considered harder than the GCSE but easier than the AS in maths.


STEP papers in mathematics are qualifications most commonly taken by A Level students in the UK as an additional qualification taken when they reach the end of their A Level mathematics course.

Check out the STEP paper solutions section. We are aiming to set up a complete set of solutions for all past STEP papers worked out and created by users. Anyone can help, so why not read up how you can get involved.

Discussion Forums

Want to discuss mathematics? We have two dedicated mathematics forums on the site.

For help with mathematics topics, coursework and homework why not check out the Maths Academic Help Forum?

If you study mathematics at uni or are thinking of applying for mathematics, why not discuss the course in the University Mathematics Forum?

See All Maths Articles

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