A* in A level Maths possible after doing poorly at GCSE?

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Currently I’m done with 3 A level subjects and I managed to get A*A*A in Economics, History and Sociology. The reason I want to do Maths is because I planning to study Econ major at a top uni, hence I have to take a gap year.

The main problem is that I had a D in GCSE Maths. Although the burden of workload would be less because of one subject, still, what are my chances to get an A*? Is one year enough time for someone like me to hopefully achieve it?
Last edited by DJ36; 1 month ago
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From a personal experience, it's definitely possible and realistic to improve - but key word is: improve, not master. Before my GCSEs and A-levels, I failed all my maths exams from Form 1 and I only started getting better at the beginning of Form 4 because I had put myself in the Additional Maths class as a way to push myself to get better. I did horribly for Add Maths but I went from a U to a C/B for regular maths. By the end of my GCSEs, I got a 6 for my final maths exam (I dropped Add Maths by then) and was able to do maths at A-levels, and I'm currently doing it, although, I'm struggling REALLY hard (my school won't let you take maths at A-levels if you hadn't taken Add Maths during your GCSEs).

With that said, I do believe it's possible to do what you wish, as long as you work really hard for it. I do believe you can achieve an A in a year, however, you've got to live, breathe and eat maths. That's an exaggeration but you get what I mean. The basics for A-level maths is GCSE level Additional Maths, so I think you would have to plan your studying appropriately and make sure your approach is holistic - seeing as your strong suit is within the humanities side of things, STEM subjects may be difficult to grasp at first as it obv doesn't have anything to do with opinions or arguments. I also have to say, A-level maths will be HARD. There's no point in sugarcoating it but the good side of it is that, with enough practice and studying, you'll get there!

Some questions you've got to think about is:

1. What are my other commitments? (You're planning to do Econs at a top uni, which means you need to gather your work experience and really prepare yourself to make a competitive application)
2. Do you feel overwhelmed by those commitments? If so, do you think taking up to learn an entire subject as another commitment is a good idea for you?
3. If you've set your mind on doing maths this year, you're gonna have to work HARD for it. Are you going to be able to commit to this regularly alongside your uni preparations?

If you've decided that you can balance it right, then go right ahead. Here are some tips I have for you:

1. Get a tutor. Doing it alone, mindlessly and without guidance is a bad idea. You won't improve if you don't know your faults OR the right way to do it.
2. Be consistent with doing maths. Don't go days on end without practising, because for people like us, it's easy to forget to do it and lose the ability to "do" maths.
3. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. In maths, practice does make perfect.
4. Try to have a healthy/positive mindset when approaching your struggles. You've got to struggle to succeed.
5. One step at a time. Try to avoid thinking about the fact that you need an A/A* in maths and rather, celebrate little improvements. It will do wonders for your mentality and keep you going for the long run! (Achieving an A* is your "bigger picture" goal, but understand one topic/chapter at a time. You'll see yourself go from D to C, to B and if you're consistent, achieve that A before you even know it)
6. Once you've covered a module, do past papers. Questions in the textbook are almost nothing like the questions they have on the actual exam papers - that doesn't mean the textbooks are useless, just use them to get the basics and use that understanding to do problem-solving for past paper questions.
7. Mark schemes are your best friend. It's not forbidden to check it, in fact, it will help you improve. When doing past papers, obv try not to refer to it, but if there are questions that you don't get at all, check the mark scheme and take that info in.
8. Have the mentality of "I can do better".

Good luck with your endeavours! I hope this helped

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