Background information about studying Maths
How will it differ from GCSE?
It is more difficult, but not hugely so at first. AS modules are not considered particularly difficult, though core A2 modules are more advanced. They do, however, build on work from previous modules so the learning curve is manageable. Anyone confident with GCSE maths should at least be able to manage AS maths with appropriate effort.
Comment: I Found this subject very difficult at AS and ended up scraping an E after an A at GCSE. This was the case with a lot of people I know who do/did maths. If you are going to take this subject you need to be sure that you will have the motivation to put quite a lot of work in or you will fail (I didn't). Despite this, if you put the work in every week you probably wont find it too difficult.
Comment: I didn't find it too hard, and at my school, it's known to be one of the easiest subjects to get an A in, since if you're good at it, it isn't difficult. Just make sure you understand the stuff as you go through it in class. In my opinion, I think the above comment makes it sound more difficult than it actually is - I know plenty of people who didn't do too much work and still got As. (Though I have only done the AS. I'm doing the A2 this year so I might find it a lot harder.)
Comment: I didn't find this course very hard at all. The AS modules includes many topics taught at GCSE. The A2 modules are more advanced and do become harder but still very much manageable. If you are studying further maths at the same time, you'll find the A-Level Maths course very straightforward.
Comment: C1 (the first, easiest pure module you will take) is designed to be A* level GCSE. So if you could do all the A* questions quite easily, the first module at least will be a doddle. The modules get progressively harder, but the jumps aren't that big. You might be introduced to a new idea in C2, then use it a bit in C3, then learn more about it in C4.
This depends largely on the individual. Some people will pick up new topics quickly, while others may find they have to work at it more and put more time into doing practice questions in order to fully understand a topic.
Comment: If you work hard from day 1 and put an hour aside each week for maths study, you'll be okay.
Required Individual Study
Students should spend time doing extra practice questions on topics they are less confident with in order to improve their skills. Time spent doing past papers, either open book or in exam conditions, is also very useful, particularly as a means of revision in the weeks immediately before exams.
Comment: A good tip that I find useful, whenever you have a free moment look a couple of pages ahead, it's a major advantage to be that little bit ahead of class, it allows you to have a further understanding and also allows for a longer amount of time to be spent on the exercises
How is it assessed?
There are 3 modules required for the AS and 6 modules for the A2. Each module is assessed by a 90 minute exam, marked out of 75. Typically, 30/75 is required for an E and 60/75 is required for an A, however these vary depending on the difficulty of the exam.
There are 4 types of module you can take - the compulsory Core modules, and the three branches of applied module: Decision (being able to think like a computer), Mechanics and Statistics.
For the AS, you are required to take C1 and C2 as well as one of D1, M1 or S1. For the A2, you are required to take C1, C2, C3 and C4, as well as two of D1, D2, M1, M2, S1 or S2
Each modules has a weighting of 100 UMS and in total the AS is marked out of 300 and the A2 is marked out of 600. The gradings for A-E are as normal (80%, 70%, and so on) however for the A* grading at A2, only C3 and C4 are taken into account. You will need to score an average of 90% or more when the scores for C3 and C4 are combined to get an A* (as well as achieving 480/600 overall).
Field trips and excursions
You wouldn't think that studying A Level Maths can lead to trips, and definitely not fun ones! However, this Maths trip ended up with half the class screaming. We went to Thorpe Park to explore the new Saw ride, which was fantastic by the way! Despite spending a lot of the trip getting wet, being scared and doing more screaming, we learnt about the mathematics behind the new Saw ride, Stealth and other rides at the theme park which involves plenty of momentum, kinetic energy and force. (On a side note, it was more like a light M1/Physics lesson)! We also learnt about the finances behind the new ride, and the economic impact of the new ride. It drew in from other parts of the cirriculum such as Geography but it definitely was an enlightening trip!
Comment: Probably none. But choosing an A Level based on field trips is an awful idea. :p:
Where can I go with a Maths A-Level
A lot of courses at university require A-Level maths. These include physics, economics, computer science and engineering. It is also highly regarded by many other courses, such as medicine, because of the analytical and logical reasoning skills learned in A-Level maths.
What I like about studying this subject: Its a truly insightful subject and gives you abilities beyond mathematics it teaches you to build upon skills and make links between topics. Mathematics also allows progression onto various fields its the staple science.
What I dislike about studying this subject: Very time consuming if like me you can take time to contemplate concepts. Its also very easy to flop exams by making a few careless mistakes and poor time management. Finally its a very conceptual subject something some people may never do well at.
What I like about studying this subject: Maths is unique in the sense that you can truly prove things beyond any doubt whatsoever. And once true, it is always true. The most enjoyable aspect at A-level, for me, was calculus, and differential equations; the thrill of solving them, and the widespread applicability for their use as modelling tools, in maths, physics, economics, and pretty much everywhere else. Without maths, we'd be living in caves.
What I dislike about studying this subject: I don't dislike anything about the subject, but would say that the exams can be more about 'not making a careless mistake' than actually understanding any maths, which is frustrating at the best of times.
What I like about studying this subject: Mathematics is one of the most satisfying subjects that a person can study- working through a long, difficult problem to arrive at a correct solution which can never be disproven is one of the greatest feelings one can have. The real beauty of mathematics is its very nature of being the language of the universe, everything can- essentially- be explained, described, predicted and derived with mathematics; it forms the basis for all of the hard sciences and, thus, is hugely important to humanity as a whole.
What I dislike about studying this subject: Honestly? Nothing, I love mathematics. However, and this is not a problem with studying maths itself, but I find that the questions of Examinations (OCR especially) can be worded rather strangely sometimes, and so can be misleasing.
What I like about studying this subject: What I like about Maths is that at first it is very hard but when you take your time to study it properly and start understanding the questions and get the questions right, it is really satisfying and it get familiar so it gets a little bit easy when you know the how to work it out. I am a methodical worker so maths definitely suited me.
What I dislike about studying this subject: Even though C1 is easy, it is hard to get an A in as the majority of people doing the exam are going to get 95%-100%. It can be frustrating sometimes. Questions can be worded awkwardly. And if you get an A* at GCSE maths don't expect that you'll sail through it. You might, but I know people in my school and others that have got A*s in Maths but ended up getting Es or Us! So be careful!