What should the future of the AEA be?

Watch this thread
_gcx
Badges: 21
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#1
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#1
The AEA is the direct successor to S-Levels (which were originally introduced to allocate state scholarships in the 50s and 60s) and "Special Papers". Having having been on life support for about a decade, the qualification was renewed indefinitely a few years ago. Currently the only AEA in existence is maths offered by Edexcel, with no papers outside of maths being set since June 2009. The cohort for most of the exams was fairly small and many candidates were Oxbridge applicants.

The provision accommodates for AEAs outside of maths to be offered, should exam boards wish offer them, though no exam board has done so yet. The continued existence of the AEA in maths is interesting, since three popular maths admissions tests exist (STEP, MAT, TMUA - though the AEA only predates the MAT and TMUA), and these are usually preferred by universities though the AEA is often accepted.

  • Do you agree with the continued existence of the AEA in maths? Do you think it fills a gap left by the other three tests?
  • Are there any subjects you think would benefit from having an AEA? AEAs were previously offered in subjects including Business Studies, Irish, Psychology and Religious Studies among the more "obvious" Biology, Chemistry, Physics. Very old papers from the mid-late 2000s can be found if you dig enough.
  • Do you think the AEA should even exist? Would strong A* students be advised to find better uses of their time, eg. wider reading approaching university level in their chosen subject?
  • Do you think there should be a Level 2 (GCSE) equivalent of the AEA aimed at grade 8/9 students?


More curriculum conversations like this
This thread is one of a series of Curriculum Conversations happening on :tsr: in July. If you would like to receive notifications for more of these, click here and tick the box.
Last edited by _gcx; 1 month ago
0
reply
_gcx
Badges: 21
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#2
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#2
I think the AEA is worth reviewing with the recent chatter about admissions competitiveness. AEAs are restricted to only A-level content, and are often quite similar in style, and so could be argued to need less specific tuition, taking some advantage away from private schools and very well-equipped high-flying state schools.


  • I think the AEA in maths does fill a gap - the examinable content is identical to the A-level maths (as is the case with all AEAs), the questions are of very similar style being instantly recognisable as "hard A-level-style questions", and it is taken at the end of the two-year maths course giving the candidate ample preparation time, requirements that are not really fulfilled by any admissions test. The TMUA is fairly similar to A-level style, but it is sat in October when the student only has AS maths under their belt. The AEA also has 20 years of papers with solutions available - TMUA has only been running for a few years. I think AEA papers also provide good extension questions to prospective A* students for A-level maths to really nail harder questions towards the end of new-spec papers. Granted, the AEA loses some of its appeal in the face of STEP II/III, which may be more enticing to students bored of the A-level style, and I think its main appeal is to offer people who are not quite confident enough to attack STEP II/III a chance at demonstrating ability over the A* in maths, and this is rewarded by some universities lowering their A-level offer given a merit or distinction in the AEA.
  • I only really did maths and physics at A-level, and don't know much about the admissions process for physics, so I don't have many immediate thoughts here.
  • As I said above, I think the AEA in maths should exist. There are certainly people who deserve recognition over the A* in maths, having attained high marks in their papers, but would struggle to give more than a 3 grade in STEP. I would encourage strong students who are breezing through the maths A-level to check out STEP papers in the first instance. If they are especially keen, I'd recommend looking at doing some programming projects with A-level-adjacent content, and then looking towards elementary number theory, naive set theory, and group theory to get a taste of the university style. I'd argue that studying for an additional A-level may be worthwhile if some has a significant secondary interest that might be lost going into university, but a strong student should be hesitant to go over 4 and should be wary of collecting additional grades "just because they can", and an AEA could provide a more challenging and worthwhile extra.
  • I gather that a lot of people are unchallenged by GCSEs, people seem to prepare very little for them (compared to how much one would prepare for an A-level exam) and still do very well. However I'm not really sure if the maturity is there, students don't really have the same drive as at A-level and generally just do the work they're told to do, so I'm leaning towards no. A keen student could very easily start reading AS-level content early instead should they wish to. (the GCSE "plateau" in maths is not particularly interesting, there is not too much you can do without knowing calculus or learning abstract algebra)
0
reply
Sinnoh
Badges: 22
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#3
Report 1 month ago
#3
Had no idea there were courses that gave a lower offer if the applicant did AEA. That should be more common.
I also think that it would make the admissions process easier on the universities; e.g. with the explosion in applicants for computing, universities are rejecting hundreds of excellent applications that they would've gladly given an offer to a few years ago. I think giving more offers but making the conditions harder is usually better than giving fewer offers, since it puts the applicant a bit more in control, so the AEA would be helpful for that - if only it were more commonly used.
0
reply
TypicalNerd
Badges: 15
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#4
Report 1 month ago
#4
Ahhh the AEA! 3 hours of pain and suffering that will probably be worth it in the end.

I completely agree with the existence of the qualification and feel it provides a challenge greater than the 3 normal A level maths papers (I cannot speak for A level further maths as I don’t do it), so in a way, it does fill a gap.

I definitely think the current AEA mathematics is a brilliant thing for those looking to study a mathematically-heavy subject (i.e maths, chemistry, engineering etc) post A-level. It provides proof that one’s understanding of the standard A level maths content can be applied in perhaps unexpected contexts. This of course would be really appealing to various universities, as a distinction does demonstrate that one’s understanding of what is considered basic mathematical knowledge has been elevated to a higher standard and reflects the ability of the candidate to think critically. I therefore believe there is no need to change it to include further maths content.

Now considering my reasoning in the previous paragraph, I do believe an AEA should exist for other subjects. They would again really appeal to unis for more or less the same reasons.

I would have loved an AEA in chemistry, as I personally didn’t find A level chemistry particularly challenging.

A GCSE equivalent is an interesting idea and should be considered, but I feel the current level 2 certificate in further mathematics is already a good option for high attainers in GCSE maths, so no such AEA-equivalent option would need to be provided for GCSE maths.
Last edited by TypicalNerd; 1 month ago
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest

How are you feeling about your results?

They're better than I expected (46)
37.7%
They're exactly what I expected (30)
24.59%
They're lower than I expected (46)
37.7%

Watched Threads

View All