[Exam Cram] Ask OCR all your A-level and GCSE Maths questions!

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StrawberryDreams
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It's Exam Cram 2019!

This half term we have an amazing offer for you all currently working through your exam season. Ask your exam board the questions you need to make that final push through your revision.

That's right, this half term we are offering you the chance to talk to your exam board and get the help you need this half term on TSR. This thread is for the 28th of May 2019 or in other words........

Maths day! :eek3: :eek3: :eek3:

Post below your questions OCR will reply! Ask about specific issues you are having with your revision, topics that you are struggling with or anything about the exams and the exam format themselves!

Just make sure you mention if you are studying at GCSE or A-level in your post so we know how to help!

Unfortunately there are some rules so we can make this thread work for everyone

  1. No asking what is in the up and coming exam, the exam board won't answer no matter how desperate you are!
  2. No asking for low boundaries! This isn't up to how the examiners are feeling on that day. Questions around grade boundaries are fine though
  3. Keep it civil !

You can start getting your questions in now and OCR will be come through and answer them tomorrow

Good luck for the rest of your exams guys! :groovy:
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Toastiekid
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I'm studying at a-level (year 12), I have a few questions
What's the most common mistake seen on the papers?
If you don't know what to do on a question, what should you do to try to maximise marks?
On a proof by induction question, if you can't get the algebra to tidy into the correct form (completing the proof), should you still write a conclusion? Will it gain you any marks even if the algebra is fudged?:lol:
thanks:grin:
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Sir Cumference
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For question 13(i) in last year's pure maths and statistics A Level paper the examiners report says.

"Trial and improvement methods only scored marks if they were very clearly explained... The better method was to use the normal approximation..."

For me the quickest way to do this question was to use my calculator to find a value of a and I was concerned that a normal approximation was considered a "better" method when it was clearly slower. Would you be able to explain this further? Also I'm finding that students are confused about when they can/can't use their calculator in a statistics exam. Would you be able to provide more clarity on this so that students are not disadvantaged in the exam? Thank you.
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DragonsOfAsshai
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How would you advise revising for the further discrete paper? At the moment I revise the best I can but I only get 50-60% on the practice papers maximum while on the pure core and mechanics I get over 90%, I just find the questions really hard and time pressured?. Also how much would you be penalised for forgetting stuff like integration constants and dx etc?
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JaBing
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Are the grade boundaries for this years A-level maths OCR H240 exams expected to be lower than last year considering only (more capable) further maths students took the exam last year?
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Dr..D
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what do we need to know about the large data set for OCR MEI ? how can we revise it before the exam ?
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RussianQuestion
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Hi OCR,

I have a question regarding A Level Further Mathematics A grade boundaries. In the past on the old specification, for the non-MEI further maths, it has been roughly 30% of candidates receiving the A*, so I take it the grade boundaries are calculated in such a way as to keep this even across years. Do you expect a similar method will be taken this year on the new specification? If not, approximately what percentage of candidates are expected to achieve the A* in Further Mathematics?
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studentbeast
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Hi OCR,

In regards to the OCR A Level Physics, what would you say is the best way to revise for the upcoming Unified Paper on 3rd June? It's kind of hard to do so as the questions on the unified paper are quite different to standard questions on the modelling and exploring papers. Thank you
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laurawatt
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For GCSE, what topics do candidates lose most marks on?
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CCauston113
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For MEI Further Maths, what are the normal grade boundaries?
Also, what topics are on the statistics minor? My school switched from OCR A to MEI halfway through the course and now I'm confused about what we actually need to know. Also, for chi-squared tests do we have to use Yate's correction factor or not?
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by Toastiekid)
I'm studying at a-level (year 12), I have a few questions
What's the most common mistake seen on the papers?
If you don't know what to do on a question, what should you do to try to maximise marks?
On a proof by induction question, if you can't get the algebra to tidy into the correct form (completing the proof), should you still write a conclusion? Will it gain you any marks even if the algebra is fudged?:lol:
thanks:grin:
Algebraic manipulation (sign errors and basic arithmetic) errors are probably the most common in A level.

If you can’t know what to do on a question, the first thing to do is don’t stress, but probably to initially leave the question, carry on with what you can do and then come back to it later. Make sure you’ve carefully read the question and then maybe try alternate approaches, such as maybe in some questions a sketch might help? If you’ve time, see what calculations you can do with the numbers given in the question, which might lead you in the right direction even if you didn’t spot the route originally.

Regarding proof by induction, it depends on what’s asked in the question and how far wrong the working has gone. It’s possible it would be credited, but really any conclusions should be consistent with the work done.

Best of luck with your exams!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by Notnek)
For question 13(i) in last year's pure maths and statistics A Level paper the examiners report says.

"Trial and improvement methods only scored marks if they were very clearly explained... The better method was to use the normal approximation..."

For me the quickest way to do this question was to use my calculator to find a value of a and I was concerned that a normal approximation was considered a "better" method when it was clearly slower. Would you be able to explain this further? Also I'm finding that students are confused about when they can/can't use their calculator in a statistics exam. Would you be able to provide more clarity on this so that students are not disadvantaged in the exam? Thank you.
This was one of the questions that begin with ‘In this question you must show detailed reasoning’ and so a clear justification of appropriate mathematical processes is needed rather than just finding the answer on a calculator. You can read more on these types of questions in our ‘Exploring our question papers’ guide at https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/513716...hematics-a.pdf on page 7 and see a question example on page 13.

The advantage of using the Normal approximation is that your calculator has an inverse Normal function that can help. The use of the binomial distribution (which has no inverse on calculators) is condoned in the mark scheme, but as this is a ‘detailed reasoning’ question there needs to be clear justification of the values discarded as well the answer taken for using trial and improvement.

Remember also that a mark scheme is written to mark the student responses and will be reviewed prior to marking commencing (by the examiners looking at a sample of the first student responses received) so that it is most appropriate to mark the candidate responses. If there are multiple correct ways of solving a question, the one that goes in the answer column may simply be the most common one that the examiners saw, not necessarily the most efficient.

In OCR A Level Maths calculators can be used throughout. There are some questions however that will require you to write a clear method with working/justification in. To help you, our questions will use a set of defined ‘command words’ to indicate the level of written working/justification that you should respond with. You can read more about these in the ‘Exploring our question papers’ guide I linked to above, on pages 7-10.

Good luck with your exams!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by DragonsOfAsshai)
How would you advise revising for the further discrete paper? At the moment I revise the best I can but I only get 50-60% on the practice papers maximum while on the pure core and mechanics I get over 90%, I just find the questions really hard and time pressured?. Also how much would you be penalised for forgetting stuff like integration constants and dx etc?
As with any branch of maths, make sure you understand the basics and then try some practice questions (from past papers or textbooks) is good preparation for answering exam questions. Making sure you know the basics is important and worth investing time in, because otherwise you’re really going to struggle with more advanced ideas. Try to organise things and build up links from what you do know. There are plenty of blogs and articles online with tips for good revision ideas that you might like to read for new suggestions. Remember too that different branches of maths (such as mechanics and discrete) can be quite different worlds and we're all better in some than others, so while there are certainly connections, don't be too put out if you perform differently in different areas!

Integration constants and mathematical notation are important and missing them may well cost a mark, but it’s hard to say ‘how much’ as it can depend on the question. Questions most likely to require them will be those that require clear working and reasoning to be shown, such as in those questions that begin with the command words ‘Show that…’ or ‘In this question you must show detailed reasoning’. For more on the command words we use, please see our ‘Exploring our question papers’ guide on pages 7-10 at https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/513716...hematics-a.pdf (although the guide is for the Maths qualifications, much of it is relevant for Further Maths too).

Best wishes for your exams!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by JaBing)
Are the grade boundaries for this years A-level maths OCR H240 exams expected to be lower than last year considering only (more capable) further maths students took the exam last year?
The grade boundaries may be different from last summer, but it's impossible to say right now exactly how they may be different. Ofqual, the department that regulates all awarding bodies, wrote a blog on this earlier this year that you might like to read at https://ofqual.blog.gov.uk/2019/02/0...-maths-in-2019.

Best of luck in your exams!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by Dr..D)
what do we need to know about the large data set for OCR MEI ? how can we revise it before the exam ?
You should have an understanding of the column headers and where the data comes from (provided in the Information Sheet, which is the first worksheet in the spreadsheet) plus an understanding of the general trends in the data, which you can gain through investigating the data with graphs and statistical calculations. We don’t expect you to memorise or recognise particular data items.

Good luck in your exams!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by RussianQuestion)
Hi OCR,

I have a question regarding A Level Further Mathematics A grade boundaries. In the past on the old specification, for the non-MEI further maths, it has been roughly 30% of candidates receiving the A*, so I take it the grade boundaries are calculated in such a way as to keep this even across years. Do you expect a similar method will be taken this year on the new specification? If not, approximately what percentage of candidates are expected to achieve the A* in Further Mathematics?
Previously, in the old modular Further Maths qualifications getting an A* was based upon several rules (achieving an A grade overall, plus getting 90 UMS average on their A2 units). In the new linear qualification the A* will be now be a normal grade boundary, set in the same way all other grade boundaries are.

To ensure consistency between years, to set the A* boundary in the new linear qualification we will look to award a similar proportion of students the A* grade as in previous years. Ofqual, the department that regulates all awarding bodies, wrote a blog on this a couple of years ago that you might like to read at https://ofqual.blog.gov.uk/2017/03/3...e-new-a-levels.

Best wishes for your exams!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by studentbeast)
Hi OCR,

In regards to the OCR A Level Physics, what would you say is the best way to revise for the upcoming Unified Paper on 3rd June? It's kind of hard to do so as the questions on the unified paper are quite different to standard questions on the modelling and exploring papers. Thank you
The forum today is on maths rather than science (I understand the science Exam Cram is Friday), but fortunately I've a member of the Science team sat nearby...

He says...

There are a number of ways to practice for Unified Physics, which can be based on the entirety of the specification and links different areas of the specification together.

There is no one particular method for problem solving questions. The key is to understand the information given and what is being asked. One activity which may work for you is to consider the question and, without answering it, to plan how you would answer it. If a group of you are revising together you can discuss strategies. If you then return to the question later, you may find it easier to solve.

Examples of similar questions are available and there are many examples of this style in the Physics B (Advancing Physics) section at https://www.ocr.org.uk/qualification...h557-from-2015, the exams for which all cover the entire specification (just do be aware that there are some small differences in specifications).

In the exam use any method that helps you clarify the information from the question:
- use text marking or highlighting to pick out key words
- list all data along with the appropriate symbols (which may help identify the available formulae)
- check all the different command words (explain, describe, etc.) and make sure you answer all the things that are asked for.

Practice proof reading answers, using candidate exemplars available with past papers, which may help you critically review your own work.

I hope that some of these ideas help you in the exam. Good luck!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by laurawatt)
For GCSE, what topics do candidates lose most marks on?
This can be a hard one to answer, since there are different types of questions and some questions are obviously easier than others. Algebra, trigonometry and ratio questions are often areas where students lose marks. Probably the most common way candidates lose marks however is those basic arithmetic slips in simple calculations that we all make from time to time, so do go back and check your work if you've time!

Best wishes for your exams!
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OCR Exam Board
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(Original post by CCauston113)
For MEI Further Maths, what are the normal grade boundaries?
Also, what topics are on the statistics minor? My school switched from OCR A to MEI halfway through the course and now I'm confused about what we actually need to know. Also, for chi-squared tests do we have to use Yate's correction factor or not?
There isn't such a thing as 'normal' grade boundaries I'm afraid! Each year is awarded based on the question papers and student responses that year, we don't try to set question papers to meet particular 'normal/standard' boundaries.

The Specification for Further Maths B is available from https://www.ocr.org.uk/qualification...h645-from-2017 and the Statistics minor content begins on page 80. Hopefully your teacher will be able to clarify exactly what's required.

No, you do not need to know about Yates' correction. There is a note on page 91 of the specification that says 'Yates’ continuity correction is not expected, though its appropriate use will not be penalised'.

Best of luck with your exams!
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XxxvatxxX
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I often struggle with the new specification and the style of questions for the new OCR A Level Maths, as it is not really like the old specification anymore so I was wondering if you would really recommend doing the old past papers as practice or would you say the new practice sets are sufficient and cover enough ground for the new examination?
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