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Maths at GCSE is a compulsory subject. Many courses which require basic maths such as economics require at least C at GCSE level


Why study maths

Maths is a very versatile subject and a key skill in life. A GCSE in maths is often a basic requirement for any science-based university course, a lot of universities for any course, and a lot of jobs of all descriptions. Besides this, maths is vital in everything from adding up your shopping bill to studying any science subject, both at GCSE and later on, whether in A-levels or in other equivalent qualifications or even in vocational subjects. It is for this reason that maths is compulsory at GCSE, and a C or higher in this subject is required for most further education.

Format of maths GCSE

The intermediate tier of maths GCSE has been abolished, and there are now only higher and foundation tiers. Most candidates will take one "non-calculator" paper and one "calculator" paper, the contents of which are very similar. Some candidates, however, will take modular exams, meaning that instead of taking two papers in year 11, they will take several smaller papers spread out over the two years. There are coursework and non-coursework options for both; candidates who take the coursework option will usually find themselves doing two pieces, one algebraic and one statistical, over years 10 and 11.


All maths GCSEs will cover the 4 main areas of maths:

  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Shape, Space and Measure
  • Data Handling and Probability

Some questions will fit across two or more of these areas. Also, higher tier papers will tend to have more questions on the algebra topics while foundation tier papers tend to have more questions on the number topics.

Exam Board Specifications

OCR Mathematics

Study help

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