How hard is GCSE maths for a mature student?

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jami74
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#1
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#1
I really want to do a Maths GCSE and get a B or above. Maths is a subject I need to work quite hard at because my arithmetic is not very good. I have been doing okay in my Level 2 and 3 Maths units on my access course and was thinking that I could study some Maths GCSE books between now and starting university in September with a view to trying to sit the exam next June. I was thinking in three months (about 5 hours a week) I could cover the syllabus and do past papers and then closer to the exam next June it would just be a case of a few hours revision.

Does this sound like it would be possible or am I being a bit over ambitious. Any advice on this would be really appreciated.
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adam271
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#2
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#2
I went to a night college last year to do it. Got a C grade.
I stopped showing up to college in January and stopped revising and when exams came I did like 1 day worth revision the day before the exam and scrapped a pass. I regret not trying my best but getting a C or even a B is possible with little effort.

I don't believe it is over ambitious you could probably achieve a lot higher than a B. Keeping the motivation for self study might be a issue for you though as it is with me.
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evening sunrise
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(Original post by jami74)
I really want to do a Maths GCSE and get a B or above. Maths is a subject I need to work quite hard at because my arithmetic is not very good. I have been doing okay in my Level 2 and 3 Maths units on my access course and was thinking that I could study some Maths GCSE books between now and starting university in September with a view to trying to sit the exam next June. I was thinking in three months (about 5 hours a week) I could cover the syllabus and do past papers and then closer to the exam next June it would just be a case of a few hours revision.

Does this sound like it would be possible or am I being a bit over ambitious. Any advice on this would be really appreciated.
There are two levels of GCSE exams. The first is like CSE used to be, the maximum grade you can get is a C, there is a second level is like GCE which enables you to get C, B , A , A*.

If you have done OK at L2 and L3 on Access then you should walk it. As what your doing is in effect taking your GCSE after passing your A level maths.
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jLou711
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#4
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#4
Its a walk in the park if you work hard
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member592149
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Surely the difficulty of a subject doesn't change as you get older compared to mid teens?
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freedomyak
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If people can do it in year 9 and get top marks I'm sure it is possible no matter how old you are.
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jami74
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#7
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(Original post by jLou711)
Its a walk in the park if you work hard
Yeah, that is what I wanted to hear, lol.

(Original post by evening sunrise)
If you have done OK at L2 and L3 on Access then you should walk it. As what your doing is in effect taking your GCSE after passing your A level maths.
Thanks, I did get a C (on a retake) years ago and have enjoyed the maths on the access although it was only 9 credits worth, the bits that I fell down on were the easier bits that an A'level student would have done at GCSE, if that makes sense.

(Original post by JaggySnake95)
Surely the difficulty of a subject doesn't change as you get older compared to mid teens?
No the difficulty of the subject doesn't change but as an older student I haven't been doing maths lessons at school for the previous ten years stepping up in difficulty in preparation for the GCSE and I won't be learning it over two years with regular classroom attendance. On the other hand I have been using real-life maths for years so that might help and I am very motivated.

I would also be doing the exams at about the same time as I'd be doing my first year university exams.
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Relaxedexams
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It all depends on how hard you try. If you try, you will gain...
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aesthetics
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#9
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(Original post by JaggySnake95)
Surely the difficulty of a subject doesn't change as you get older compared to mid teens?
I think the primary reason older people are perceived to be less apt at learning is that young people are more impressionable and can remember things easier than someone that has exceeded adolescence, a stage designated for absorption of language and skills. The phrase 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' comes to mind here. Unless you were good at the subject as a child/teenager, most aspects of the subjects will be new to you and considering how exams are centered around the regurgitation of knowledge, the obvious discrepancy in memorization skills (when compared to a young person) is likely to hinder the outcome.

If my mom were told to take the GCSEs now, she'd likely find it more difficult than I do as a teenager, in spite of being more mature and 'wise' as far as worldly skills are concerned.
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evening sunrise
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(Original post by JaggySnake95)
Surely the difficulty of a subject doesn't change as you get older compared to mid teens?
At the level of GCSE you are correct as a general principle.

But some things get harder as you get older, and some aspects of becoming older compensate in part. Plus of course at whatever level an individual peaks at some point in time there will be a point in the future where they are materially less capable. The principle does not really apply at the level of subjects but to the capability level of mental faculties you use and inparticular using faculties you have not really used before.
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evening sunrise
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(Original post by aesthetics)
considering how exams are centered around the regurgitation of knowledge, the obvious discrepancy in memorization skills (when compared to a young person) is likely to hinder the outcome.

.
Fortunately at degree level this is not the case.

At GCE A level this was not the case either, but basically did apply to GCE O level although not as much as the current GCSEs.
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aesthetics
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(Original post by evening sunrise)
Fortunately at degree level this is not the case.

At GCE A level this was not the case either, but basically did apply to GCE O level although not as much as the current GCSEs.
I currently do the IGCSEs, which would be the equivalent of O-Levels (which the OP seems to be inquiring on) and I find the questions pretty superficial and gleans over any opportunities for actual critical thinking. A lot of the questions are based on recalling information you've learned and is largely knowledge based. As a person that is good at analysis and writing essays based on research, doing these things in an exam-context relies on you memorizing facts and having a breadth of knowledge in the subject, much like a living walking Wikipedia.

That's not to say that analysis is not required, but you can't postulate your ideas based on what you believe to be true, something that would not be a problem if exams were open-book. If you don't have a good memory, you can't exactly label or explain, since you're reliant on the knowledge you've accumulated through rote memorization.
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evening sunrise
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(Original post by aesthetics)
I currently do the IGCSEs, which would be the equivalent of O-Levels (which the OP seems to be inquiring on) and I find the questions pretty superficial and gleans over any opportunities for actual critical thinking. A lot of the questions are based on recalling information you've learned and is largely knowledge based. As a person that is good at analysis and writing essays based on research, doing these things in an exam-context relies on you memorizing facts and having a breadth of knowledge in the subject, much like a living walking Wikipedia.

That's not to say that analysis is not required, but you can't postulate your ideas based on what you believe to be true, something that would not be a problem if exams were open-book. If you don't have a good memory, you can't exactly label or explain, since you're reliant on the knowledge you've accumulated through rote memorization.
We concur then. I did my GCE O levels in 1979 and my GCE A levels in 1981.
Certainly to get an A grade required far more than regurgitation.


I remember to this day a question (one of the big, lots of marks, questions) in the GCE A level Physics paper. It centred around a hot air balloon. When we came out of the exam my mates said "that was a (insert expletive) what was all that about a bloody balloon, we have never done balloons". I replied "it was all about Archimedes's principle and the second part matched that with Newtons laws of cooling and ideal gases. "Archimedes's principle applies things floating in water you idiot" was one response I got.
There was only one pass out of 11 students.

GCE O'level Geography. Our teacher (between him and I was a strong mutual dislike that tended towards, but did not attain, hatred level) insisted we studied the Paris Basin, which in my view was like watching paint dry, but we did it as one of the big, lots of marks, questions was always on the Paris basin. Except once we got into the exam this was the year it was missing for the first time in 7 years. I had watched horizon a fortnight earlier regarding tsetse fly and hence sleeping sickness, control, so I answered the question regarding the control of disease, the principles were easy, irradiate the females so that they were sterile, release them, and let the males mate to no avail, I drew the equipment from memory based upon the TV programme. 1 pass out of 30 students. When I bumped into the geography teacher after results day, his comment was "you did not deserve to pass, x, y and z worked much harder than you and they deserved to pass more." He was really quite irate, really angry.
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aesthetics
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(Original post by evening sunrise)
We concur then. I did my GCE O levels in 1979 and my GCE A levels in 1981.
Certainly to get an A grade required far more than regurgitation.


I remember to this day a question (one of the big, lots of marks, questions) in the GCE A level Physics paper. It centred around a hot air balloon. When we came out of the exam my mates said "that was a (insert expletive) what was all that about a bloody balloon, we have never done balloons". I replied "it was all about Archimedes's principle and the second part matched that with Newtons laws of cooling and ideal gases. "Archimedes's principle applies things floating in water you idiot" was one response I got.
There was only one pass out of 11 students.

GCE O'level Geography. Our teacher (between him and I was a strong mutual dislike that tended towards, but did not attain, hatred level) insisted we studied the Paris Basin, which in my view was like watching paint dry, but we did it as one of the big, lots of marks, questions was always on the Paris basin. Except once we got into the exam this was the year it was missing for the first time in 7 years. I had watched horizon a fortnight earlier regarding tsetse fly and hence sleeping sickness, control, so I answered the question regarding the control of disease, the principles were easy, irradiate the females so that they were sterile, release them, and let the males mate to no avail, I drew the equipment from memory based upon the TV programme. 1 pass out of 30 students. When I bumped into the geography teacher after results day, his comment was "you did not deserve to pass, x, y and z worked much harder than you and they deserved to pass more." He was really quite irate, really angry.
Well, I wouldn't say that passing exams are merely regurgitation but exams are in place to test knowledge you've stored and manipulate that information, so regurgitation is a large portion of it. For example, if you want to attain a high grade in English Literature, you have to memorize quotes to support your answers. If you don't have quotes and merely reference a certain event that transpired within the novel/play, you lose marks no matter how well-written or analytical your essay was. Memorizing quotes is a pretty ridiculous skill that's only applicable in an exam scenario. If I were to write a legitimate research paper at post-graduate level, I wouldn't be barred from combing through books or the Internet for quotes or references. Even the critical thinking part of English Literature is about taking other people's ideas about symbolism and anything that defers from majority is considered 'wrong', in spite of the fact that they convince you to adopt your own opinions and formulate your own ideas. It's all a facade because they want you to be original but not so original as to be radical, which is quite jarring for those who think outside the box.

I had my Biology exam a week ago and we had to talk about the importance of cracking in the oil industry. I studied catalytic cracking, alkanes/alkenes prior to that, but apart from converting the single-bonded hydrocarbons to double-bonded hydrocarbons, I did not have enough information on hand to elaborate more about the filtering process or why single-bonded hydrocarbons cannot be used as an energy source, so I didn't have any evidence for the statement. You're expected to 'know' these things and it's sometimes difficult without research. Even if you do have an amazing memory, people can't be expected to be mere memory stores. We're supposed to synthesize the information that's presented to us, not cram our heads with every single piece of information. That's the whole point of the brain's schema system - to prevent overload.
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freedomyak
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(Original post by evening sunrise)
We concur then. I did my GCE O levels in 1979 and my GCE A levels in 1981.
Certainly to get an A grade required far more than regurgitation.


I remember to this day a question (one of the big, lots of marks, questions) in the GCE A level Physics paper. It centred around a hot air balloon. When we came out of the exam my mates said "that was a (insert expletive) what was all that about a bloody balloon, we have never done balloons". I replied "it was all about Archimedes's principle and the second part matched that with Newtons laws of cooling and ideal gases. "Archimedes's principle applies things floating in water you idiot" was one response I got.
There was only one pass out of 11 students.

GCE O'level Geography. Our teacher (between him and I was a strong mutual dislike that tended towards, but did not attain, hatred level) insisted we studied the Paris Basin, which in my view was like watching paint dry, but we did it as one of the big, lots of marks, questions was always on the Paris basin. Except once we got into the exam this was the year it was missing for the first time in 7 years. I had watched horizon a fortnight earlier regarding tsetse fly and hence sleeping sickness, control, so I answered the question regarding the control of disease, the principles were easy, irradiate the females so that they were sterile, release them, and let the males mate to no avail, I drew the equipment from memory based upon the TV programme. 1 pass out of 30 students. When I bumped into the geography teacher after results day, his comment was "you did not deserve to pass, x, y and z worked much harder than you and they deserved to pass more." He was really quite irate, really angry.
Well if you really are such a hotshot prodigy as you (unverifiably) claim to be in your statements then you should have told your geog teacher to suck on some oranges.
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evening sunrise
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(Original post by freedomyak)
Well if you really are such a hotshot prodigy as you (unverifiably) claim to be in your statements then you should have told your geog teacher to suck on some oranges.
Need to raise your standards. That is what was needed to get a C..... 5% of the students in the UK got A's that year as A was awarded on a percentile basis.

Yes I was, unverifiably, the only one out of 11 to pass A level maths too. In fact the only other A level passes were 6 out of 9 in English Literature and a girl with a French mother who got an A at French plus two of us who passed Computer Science. History, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, economics etc etc all produced zero passes. I have no idea whether the university admissions have access to contextual data that far back as they do for a more recent periods, i.e. comparing your grades in a subject with the schools average

The headmaster was removed two years later and the school was renamed sometime after that. I found out about the renaming when entering my education into my UCAS application as I could not find it on the drop down list, so a bit of googling was required.

But you are correct regarding the internet and that it cannot be verified, whether that be:

  • the grades folks are saying they are getting on Access,
  • their current job/past career,
  • the current classification they are achieving at Uni
  • the reasons they are dropping out of access or uni
  • their IQ
  • the reasons for low achievement earlier in life,
  • whether they really had low achievement earlier in life or just want to appear reborn,
  • whether they actually hold the Uni offers they claim,
  • whether they even received offers and or interviews at all
  • whether the case of the individual who failed everything at 16, spent 20 years working in a warehouse and now holds an offer to read law at oxbridge is real.
What is more most of what is written in a personal statement is not verifiable, especially in the case of mature students, 18yos don't really have as much to say so less of an issue.

On top of that you have to allow for the "planted" posts by the marketing folks from Uni's, colleges etc etc, they are a bit harder to spot on here than folks posting in or starting threads in say a photography forum, where it is pretty transparent that they are seeking to raise brand/model awareness or gauge product perception and a myriad of other objectives. But I think most RG v New and does prestige matter? threads originate from and are certainly contributed to by such individuals appearing as students. Same with "how good is the anti plagiarism system" threads etc.

So anyone considering advice or making plans based upon such advice posted on this and any other site I hope is doing so fully aware of the above.
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Wahala
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#17
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#17
GCSE Maths is ridiculously easy. Hadn't done maths in yonks, did a week's work using Maths Watch cd & got an A. You don't need to spend money or hours in a class for gcse maths. Buy a copy from ebay & use examsolutions.co.uk
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LucyJ12
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#18
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GCSE maths is easy.. Especially linear which is what I did. I barely did any revision and got an A the first time.. then had to retake and got an A*. I'm sure you can do it too
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wallbars
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#19
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(Original post by LucyJ12)
GCSE maths is easy.. Especially linear which is what I did. I barely did any revision and got an A the first time.. then had to retake and got an A*. I'm sure you can do it too
Clearly you have a natutral ability in maths as does Wahala for whom, 'GCSE Maths is ridiculously easy...' Whereas for others the subject is more of a challenge and gaining a C at intermediate level will feel more of an achievement.

I re-did my GCSE English at night school years back - was about 10yrs older than most of the others on the course who were mainly school leavers who needed to re-sit to get a decent grade. I enjoyed it and didn't find it a challenege and got a B. Others struggled/found it a real stress. It would seem therefore that success/ability is down to an individuals natural ability as well as the difficulty of the subject matter and/or how it is taught.

For those coming back to maths in later life and who have struggled with it in school I suggest going for Foundation level and just sticking with it. Simply going over the different topics slowly and in your own time, stage by stage with a decent revision guide (e.g. CGP .... http://www.cgpbooks.co.uk/Student - this isn't a plug but I've used them before and havn't seen others any better for explaining stuff clearly..)

It will need a lot of time, determination and practice if you have a job, family and other commitments but worth it in the end, esp. if you need this to progress in your career. I'm signing up again for this Sept (having got a D after re-taking 10yrs ago) and hope to finally crack it next summer.
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ThatPerson
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#20
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#20
(Original post by jami74)
I really want to do a Maths GCSE and get a B or above. Maths is a subject I need to work quite hard at because my arithmetic is not very good. I have been doing okay in my Level 2 and 3 Maths units on my access course and was thinking that I could study some Maths GCSE books between now and starting university in September with a view to trying to sit the exam next June. I was thinking in three months (about 5 hours a week) I could cover the syllabus and do past papers and then closer to the exam next June it would just be a case of a few hours revision.

Does this sound like it would be possible or am I being a bit over ambitious. Any advice on this would be really appreciated.
Maths GCSE is definitely possible for anyone at any age, especially in 1 year. Firstly I think you should make sure that you're comfortable with the absolute basic concepts, and then get started with GCSE Maths one topic at a time.
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