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How would I approach taking my Maths GCSE early?

I'm currently 2 years away from when my school typically takes the Edexcel Maths(Higher Tier) GCSE, but I have decided that I would like to take it in one year's time. My school normally allows students to do their Statistics GCSE in the same year, so it would essentially be two birds hit with one stone.
I pick up maths concepts pretty easily, and both my school, me, and my family are confident that I can get an A* if I approach it correctly. This does however beg the question - how? I have covered about 1/5 of all the content to a GCSE level, although most of it is certainly the easier content. Are there certain techniques and/or approaches to quickly solidify/learn new topics easily, and which worked well for you?
(As I plan to take it early, the aim is to get a 9, I am working at about a 5/6, but purely because of a lack of topic knowledge.)

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Reply 1
Original post by gruezome
I'm currently 2 years away from when my school typically takes the Edexcel Maths(Higher Tier) GCSE, but I have decided that I would like to take it in one year's time. My school normally allows students to do their Statistics GCSE in the same year, so it would essentially be two birds hit with one stone.
I pick up maths concepts pretty easily, and both my school, me, and my family are confident that I can get an A* if I approach it correctly. This does however beg the question - how? I have covered about 1/5 of all the content to a GCSE level, although most of it is certainly the easier content. Are there certain techniques and/or approaches to quickly solidify/learn new topics easily, and which worked well for you?
(As I plan to take it early, the aim is to get a 9, I am working at about a 5/6, but purely because of a lack of topic knowledge.)

So what I did was solve loads of question papers and any questions I didn’t know or got the answer wrong , I would mark that question and watch a video about it and solve various similar questions . This method is really quick and easy and trust me you’ll see yourself achieving a grade 9 quite easily
I mean there's literally no benefit to doing it in one year and major risks of getting a worse result, so can't see why it's worthwhile at all.

Just use the extra time to explore maths beyond the curriculum - your teachers would probably be happy to signpost you to some things to do in that vein.
Reply 3
Original post by gruezome
I'm currently 2 years away from when my school typically takes the Edexcel Maths(Higher Tier) GCSE, but I have decided that I would like to take it in one year's time. My school normally allows students to do their Statistics GCSE in the same year, so it would essentially be two birds hit with one stone.
I pick up maths concepts pretty easily, and both my school, me, and my family are confident that I can get an A* if I approach it correctly. This does however beg the question - how? I have covered about 1/5 of all the content to a GCSE level, although most of it is certainly the easier content. Are there certain techniques and/or approaches to quickly solidify/learn new topics easily, and which worked well for you?
(As I plan to take it early, the aim is to get a 9, I am working at about a 5/6, but purely because of a lack of topic knowledge.)

Don't take it early - most schools won't allow it as it will affect their data.

There's no benefit as you need to study Maths throughout KS4 and a grade lower than you are aiming for has to be declared on UCAS.

It's far better to ask your school to lend you Maths books such as those by Rob Eastaway. Also enter UKMT challenges and solve the NRICH problems.
As a person who got 97% overall in GCSE math and later on achieved 87% in my math module at uni, I recommend to read all of the books here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/stores/Anshul-Raja/author/B00R05N000?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Basically, repetition, repetition, repetition. But you don't want to repeat the same topic every day... so his books will teach you how to structure your study plan well.
Reply 5
Original post by artful_lounger
I mean there's literally no benefit to doing it in one year and major risks of getting a worse result, so can't see why it's worthwhile at all.

Just use the extra time to explore maths beyond the curriculum - your teachers would probably be happy to signpost you to some things to do in that vein.

I get your point, but my school takes incredibly long to go over the whole curriculum, and they aren't exactly supportive of doing maths outside of their teaching. Looking at other areas in maths beyond the government curriculum is a good idea though, I do enjoy those sorts of things.
Reply 6
Original post by Muttley79
Don't take it early - most schools won't allow it as it will affect their data.

There's no benefit as you need to study Maths throughout KS4 and a grade lower than you are aiming for has to be declared on UCAS.

It's far better to ask your school to lend you Maths books such as those by Rob Eastaway. Also enter UKMT challenges and solve the NRICH problems.

I'm planning on taking it with the government, my school said that it's fine with them as long as I inform them of the grades and continue maths during my assigned lessons(doing A Level syllabus, etc).
Original post by gruezome
I'm currently 2 years away from when my school typically takes the Edexcel Maths(Higher Tier) GCSE, but I have decided that I would like to take it in one year's time. My school normally allows students to do their Statistics GCSE in the same year, so it would essentially be two birds hit with one stone.
I pick up maths concepts pretty easily, and both my school, me, and my family are confident that I can get an A* if I approach it correctly. This does however beg the question - how? I have covered about 1/5 of all the content to a GCSE level, although most of it is certainly the easier content. Are there certain techniques and/or approaches to quickly solidify/learn new topics easily, and which worked well for you?
(As I plan to take it early, the aim is to get a 9, I am working at about a 5/6, but purely because of a lack of topic knowledge.)

I would use websites like 1focus and stayfocusd (app) to block other websites so you don't procrastinate.

For GCSE, I'd first use Exam Solutions, the tutorials, Isaac Physics (they have stuff for GCSE math), then the exam questions, keep drilling those exam questions because you'd need it.

But for uni applications and 6th forms, so many prefer GCSEs to be taken together. What is your plan for the future?
Original post by gruezome
I'm planning on taking it with the government, my school said that it's fine with them as long as I inform them of the grades and continue maths during my assigned lessons(doing A Level syllabus, etc).

Let's say you take GCSE in Y10. Then you move on to A-level syllabus for the assigned lesson and continue doing maths.

To progress towards A-level Math, most 6th forms and colleges require grade 6-8 for GCSE math.
For A level FM, most 6th forms and colleges require grade 7-9.

The problem is that some universities (especially top ones, like Oxbridge, Edinburgh to some extent, others maybe) really really want people to take their A-levels in two years.

If you start A-level syllabus in Y11, two years would mean finish by end of Y12. What would you do for Y11-Y13?

UK system is not very flexible - either a bit or nothing, or everything. Lucky that your school was flexible - so many schools I applied to weren't, although some were lenient enough to let me skip a year (which I am grateful for).

For me, I didn't take GCSE early. I just decided to skip a year now (2 before) because I wanted to go to university early.

What happens if you don't get a 9? If you want to continue on with A-level syllabus, what are the entry requirements for Math A-level (And FM if your school offers it)?
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 9
Original post by gruezome
I'm planning on taking it with the government, my school said that it's fine with them as long as I inform them of the grades and continue maths during my assigned lessons(doing A Level syllabus, etc).

Which country are you in? An early entry is not advised by unis - they like to see all GCSEs taken together.

https://nrich.maths.org/students/secondary has plenty of ideas

UKMT database here: https://www.drfrostmaths.com/worksheets.php?wdid=44
Reply 10
Original post by ActiveEccentric
I would use websites like 1focus and stayfocusd (app) to block other websites so you don't procrastinate.

For GCSE, I'd first use Exam Solutions, the tutorials, Isaac Physics (they have stuff for GCSE math), then the exam questions, keep drilling those exam questions because you'd need it.

But for uni applications and 6th forms, so many prefer GCSEs to be taken together. What is your plan for the future?

In terms of future plans, I'm honestly not too sure. I had been previously interested in mainly maths, but I find that my interests now linger near science or english, geography, etc. I would, however, like to take it for A levels, as it would help with having a well-rounded report. I doubt I would take this subject to university, but it's not to say that I don't like it.
Reply 11
Original post by ActiveEccentric
Let's say you take GCSE in Y10. Then you move on to A-level syllabus for the assigned lesson and continue doing maths.

To progress towards A-level Math, most 6th forms and colleges require grade 6-8 for GCSE math.
For A level FM, most 6th forms and colleges require grade 7-9.

The problem is that some universities (especially top ones, like Oxbridge, Edinburgh to some extent, others maybe) really really want people to take their A-levels in two years.

If you start A-level syllabus in Y11, two years would mean finish by end of Y12. What would you do for Y11-Y13?

UK system is not very flexible - either a bit or nothing, or everything. Lucky that your school was flexible - so many schools I applied to weren't, although some were lenient enough to let me skip a year (which I am grateful for).

For me, I didn't take GCSE early. I just decided to skip a year now (2 before) because I wanted to go to university early.

What happens if you don't get a 9? If you want to continue on with A-level syllabus, what are the entry requirements for Math A-level (And FM if your school offers it)?

At the sixth forms I'm currently looking at, a 7 is the very minimum grade if you want to take maths and/or further maths (Using my school's MOCs and resources, they've said that I can definitely achieve a grade 7). I see that you've said I would have nothing to do during my other A levels, but the idea is that I would be able to take A level maths at a slower pace compared to other students - rather than having to do it all in 2 years, I would have 3 years to prepare. Expanding on what you said about top universities preferring A levels to be taken in two years, why? I honestly didn't think it would be a worry, but now that you've mentioned it, I'm curious as to why they'd find it a problem.
Original post by gruezome
In terms of future plans, I'm honestly not too sure. I had been previously interested in mainly maths, but I find that my interests now linger near science or english, geography, etc. I would, however, like to take it for A levels, as it would help with having a well-rounded report. I doubt I would take this subject to university, but it's not to say that I don't like it.

For science, remember a physics degree requires a lot of maths. Chemistry, biology, psychology, Econ, (degree) need a decent amount of math.

If you finish GCSE in Y10, it seems you'd have 3 more years until Y13. Spreading A-level to 3 years instead of 2 is not ideal for the reasons mentioned. Just be aware - if you start A-level, finish it in 2 years.

If you're not sure, want to keep options open for 6th form, IB could be good. But the pacing is less flexible than A-level, and the choices too. Some A-levels are modular (Cambridge International A-level, for example) to spread the pressure.
(edited 2 months ago)
Original post by gruezome
At the sixth forms I'm currently looking at, a 7 is the very minimum grade if you want to take maths and/or further maths (Using my school's MOCs and resources, they've said that I can definitely achieve a grade 7). I see that you've said I would have nothing to do during my other A levels, but the idea is that I would be able to take A level maths at a slower pace compared to other students - rather than having to do it all in 2 years, I would have 3 years to prepare. Expanding on what you said about top universities preferring A levels to be taken in two years, why? I honestly didn't think it would be a worry, but now that you've mentioned it, I'm curious as to why they'd find it a problem.

The standard is for A-levels to be taken in two years. If you spread it over three years, some unis (elite of the elite, and strong unis) would be concerned you didn't have an intense enough workload for your 6th form studies, and you wouldn't cope.

It's not just the level of content - it's also the pace. That's why they're concerned. Besides so many uni applicants would do their A-levels in two years anyway.

https://warwick.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/apply/admissionsstatement/ Warwick's admissions statement

They don't object to resits within the normal 2 years. It seems they are concerned with the pacing (2 years is standard for A-level). Other unis like Oxford and Cambridge are also concerned. Just bear in mind this.

If you have 3 years to prepare for the same a levels, you'd be at a significant advantage compared to those with only 2 years to prepare. Hence, unis adjust for this.

If you attempt to do GCSE a year early, then start A-level content at Y11, then you'd have to finish all the A-levels within 2 years.
Warwick: "The University normally expects applicants to demonstrate that they can succeed on a demanding course of study within a defined timescale, as exemplified by (but not limited to) the achievement of three A levels (or international equivalent) over the course of a maximum of two years of study."

3 A-levels over the maximum of 2 years. If you start A-level math in Y11, you'd need to finish it, along with 2 other A-levels, by Y12, to meet this requirement. Effectively you'd be skipping a year in that case. Some people do that.
Reply 14
Original post by ActiveEccentric
The standard is for A-levels to be taken in two years. If you spread it over three years, some unis (elite of the elite, and strong unis) would be concerned you didn't have an intense enough workload for your 6th form studies, and you wouldn't cope.

It's not just the level of content - it's also the pace. That's why they're concerned. Besides so many uni applicants would do their A-levels in two years anyway.

https://warwick.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/apply/admissionsstatement/ Warwick's admissions statement

They don't object to resits within the normal 2 years. It seems they are concerned with the pacing (2 years is standard for A-level). Other unis like Oxford and Cambridge are also concerned. Just bear in mind this.

If you have 3 years to prepare for the same a levels, you'd be at a significant advantage compared to those with only 2 years to prepare. Hence, unis adjust for this.

If you attempt to do GCSE a year early, then start A-level content at Y11, then you'd have to finish all the A-levels within 2 years.
Warwick: "The University normally expects applicants to demonstrate that they can succeed on a demanding course of study within a defined timescale, as exemplified by (but not limited to) the achievement of three A levels (or international equivalent) over the course of a maximum of two years of study."

3 A-levels over the maximum of 2 years. If you start A-level math in Y11, you'd need to finish it, along with 2 other A-levels, by Y12, to meet this requirement. Effectively you'd be skipping a year in that case. Some people do that.

I doubt that I would be able to achieve all As or A*s by the end of Y12. Other posts on this thread have provided things for me to do whilst waiting, which I really appreciate. If I had a 'gap year' during Y11 for maths, but picked it back up near the beginning of Y12, would that be ok? I would then be able to do my A levels in the appropriate 2 year timescale. I am a highly motivated student, so I would definitely rebrief myself on the curriculum to be prepared. Alternatively, could I just do a few A level maths topics lightly during Y11, and get used to the concepts, and then begin the actual A level in Y12? Let me know of your thoughts.
Reply 15
Original post by gruezome
I doubt that I would be able to achieve all As or A*s by the end of Y12. Other posts on this thread have provided things for me to do whilst waiting, which I really appreciate. If I had a 'gap year' during Y11 for maths, but picked it back up near the beginning of Y12, would that be ok? I would then be able to do my A levels in the appropriate 2 year timescale. I am a highly motivated student, so I would definitely rebrief myself on the curriculum to be prepared. Alternatively, could I just do a few A level maths topics lightly during Y11, and get used to the concepts, and then begin the actual A level in Y12? Let me know of your thoughts.

(Perhaps I should have said this earlier, but I have really wanted to take both French and Latin GCSEs, but I only have one space left, so I'm prioritising Latin. If I were to take this GCSE early, my school said they would allow me to also take French, which I understand is very difficult, but I enjoy languages quite a lot. Usually, my school only offers students 10 GCSE or 11/12 with FM/Stats, but they are lenient 🙂 )
Original post by gruezome
I doubt that I would be able to achieve all As or A*s by the end of Y12. Other posts on this thread have provided things for me to do whilst waiting, which I really appreciate. If I had a 'gap year' during Y11 for maths, but picked it back up near the beginning of Y12, would that be ok? I would then be able to do my A levels in the appropriate 2 year timescale. I am a highly motivated student, so I would definitely rebrief myself on the curriculum to be prepared. Alternatively, could I just do a few A level maths topics lightly during Y11, and get used to the concepts, and then begin the actual A level in Y12? Let me know of your thoughts.

For math gap years, if you take a gap year, make sure to keep up the math occasionally. Math skills can become quite rusty if you don't use them. That's why some universities (for example, Cambridge) recommend revising math content during a gap year. I'd say preferably not, but if you want a gap year... make sure to keep up the math somehow

You could attempt some kind of "enrichment" plan or "Bridging" plan to keep the a levels in 2 years, although if there's too much a level content, it might actually count towards the a level years so be careful. There is Further Math GCSE if you really want a formal system.

Alternatively, do you really need a year to revise, enrich, consolidate? A summer could be OK. But you do you. If you do this, for a year I'd suggest more competition math, a lot more super curricular, try your luck at the SMC to get into BMO etc.

When I did A-level math, the start is almost like higher-level GCSE, so as long as you get at least a 7-9 you should be able to progress. Preferably get the highest grade. If you don't, it's not the end of the world, however note unis won't account for the exam taken early.

If you do take the exams early and move on to a-levels a year early, then graduate a year early... even if you get an 8 or 7 in the early GCSEs, I suppose you'd at least have managed to save a year.
Original post by gruezome
(Perhaps I should have said this earlier, but I have really wanted to take both French and Latin GCSEs, but I only have one space left, so I'm prioritising Latin. If I were to take this GCSE early, my school said they would allow me to also take French, which I understand is very difficult, but I enjoy languages quite a lot. Usually, my school only offers students 10 GCSE or 11/12 with FM/Stats, but they are lenient 🙂 )

Fair, you still need enough GCSEs taken at the same time. I think you have that.

If you do take Latin early... hopefully you get the 9. If not... well, it's not the end of the world although it's not ideal.

What do you plan to do after this? Do you plan to carry on Latin to A-level? If none is done in Y11 there may be significant issues with content retention.
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 18
Original post by ActiveEccentric
Fair, you still need enough GCSEs taken at the same time. I think you have that.

If you do take Latin early... hopefully you get the 9. If not... well, it's not the end of the world although it's not ideal.

What do you plan to do after this? Do you plan to carry on Latin to A-level? If none is done in Y11 there may be significant issues with content retention.

(Sorry for the late reply)
I doubt I would take Latin to A-Level. Although it's a subject that I enjoy, I cannot see myself pursuing any paths related to it..
Original post by gruezome
(Sorry for the late reply)
I doubt I would take Latin to A-Level. Although it's a subject that I enjoy, I cannot see myself pursuing any paths related to it..

No problem. I tend to agree with your view too.

If you really want to take the GCSE early... good luck with it... although I would've pursued a path of compressing the stuff, skipping a year in the process. But that's just me.

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