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Maths GCSE help pleeeease!

(19 Posts)
DunbarsNumber Mon 30-May-11 21:13:14

DS said that one of his friends wanted help with his Maths GCSE. Originally he mentioned a specific topic and I thought that I would be able to help, but it then turns out that he wants general help across the board to jump up a grade.
The lad is fairly able but I need some hints or tips on what to do to nail those final, elusive marks to get the grade. Can anyone help?

MmeBlueberry Tue 31-May-11 09:31:18

Practise harder problems?

DunbarsNumber Tue 31-May-11 11:08:13

Thanks but I am trying to look inside the examiner's mind. In something like English they will be told that they get a basic grade for identifying points, a better grade for understanding and analysing and an even better for evaluating alternatives. Are there equivalent grade descriptors for Maths, or is it a case of merely picking up marks?

My killer point was going to be that when they ask 'how long is a pice of string?' to remember to put the units of measurement, but I have looked at a past paper and they put it in the answer box for you!

I read somewhere that if a question is worth n marks then you should show n lines of working.

DunbarsNumber Tue 31-May-11 11:09:13

piece of string

aliportico Tue 31-May-11 11:47:37

You can look at past papers and yes, the mark schemes that go with them. Have a look at the board's websites.

The units aren't always on the paper, so it's worth always checking anyway smile

Tell him to make sure he reads the question carefully, and answers the actual question they are asking. Obviously show his working, and try to make it as clear as possible, especially on longer answers - write some words showing what he's doing where, if necessary.

For most questions, I wouldn't actually worry about how many marks are allocated. If you use the correct method and get the right answer, you'll get full marks. I've never seen a question where you could do it right, get the right answer, but still somehow drop a mark.

MrsHerculePoirot Tue 31-May-11 11:55:03

Definitely second answering the actual question and showing all working clearly and logically.

You can't compare it to the English GCSE markscheme in the same way - to get a higher grade in Maths you simply need to answer more questions correctly and therefore get more marks.

What grade are they trying to get to? An A* from an A or a C from a D for example...

Earwiggo Tue 31-May-11 18:49:30

Sounds obvious but when practicing past papers go over every wrong answer in detail to make sure he understands why it was wrong. If their were optional questions he chose not to answer go over those topics as they will be his weakest ones.

If he makes sloppy mistakes get them checking and even rechecking his working out.

DunbarsNumber Tue 31-May-11 19:34:05

He has some modules at a high B, MrsHP, so he wants to do really well on the remaining modules to average an A overall. No pressure there then!

mnistooaddictive Tue 31-May-11 20:31:00

So you need to look at A grade topics
Upper and Lower bounds
Direct and inverse proportion
Multiply 2 brackets to give quadratic
Indices including negatives and fractions
trig graphs
sine and cosine rule
similar triangles
surface area and volume
independent and mutually exclusive probability

This is for edexcel, it will be similar for all other exam boards too.
Early modules can be capped so the most you can get is a B as there is no A or A* content on them. It is worth seeing if this is the case. The exam board website is the best place to get this info


MrsHerculePoirot Tue 31-May-11 22:34:26

mnistooaddictive has beaten me to the list if higher topics. I was going to suggest working on those as that well as the justification questions which can be in any topic e.g. Show that the volume is... Rather than work out the volume is type of question.

DunbarsNumber Wed 01-Jun-11 08:36:13

Many thanks for help so far.

MN2A: is that true about capping early modules!?shock I've tried looking at the Edexcel website but it is infuriating. Many of the recent past-papers are not available to view (to keep them pristine so that schools can use them as mock papers) and the ones that are available are an old specification. The only mark sceme I found which capped results to a B was under the old three tier system - does the capping to a B still apply?
Does this imply that, if early exams are full of easier B/C questions, then the later exams will have a disproportionately high number of A/A* questions?

mnistooaddictive Wed 01-Jun-11 09:46:32

Yes I think they do but it depends on the design of the syllabus. When I taught it a LONG time ago, the modules got harder as you went along. I think this is still the case, first module C/B second module B/A and last module A/A*. This reflects the way it is taught, as you usually cover the easiest stuff earlier and leave the harder stuff to the end.

If you want past paper, google EDEXCEL past papers gcse maths and there are lts of websites where you can get it for free!
Youy want to look at specification on website not past papers for detail. I will have a look now, is it definitely EDEXCEL?

mnistooaddictive Wed 01-Jun-11 09:50:34

Looking at edexcel, I am wrong, all grades are available on all modules but this may be different for different exam boards. I think AQA is different.

ninah Wed 01-Jun-11 09:55:59

edexcel offer two gcse papers - foundation, which is capped at C grade, and higher, which is not capped at all - sounds like he's taking the higher paper. Does he have a textbook? the one I used came with a cd, and showed lots of practical examples. (I took it last June, 5th attempt, because I needed it for teaching). I practised topic by topic and did lots of past paper questions (it had some in the book). I'd suggest that he practise across the board to make sure he has a comprehensive understanding and quick application. It has to be down to him, really - you can help where his understanding is not quite there, but the work is up to him! Not much time to revise now, surely?

MrsHerculePoirot Wed 01-Jun-11 09:59:20

What specification is he doing? It is modular or linear? Has he already sat some modules? Edexcel are changing their specifications for students who will be in Year 11 next year, if he is already in Year 11 then he will be sitting the original specification and if he is in Year 10 then he will be sitting the new specification. There are no past papers as yet for the new specification as the first exams.

In terms of capping, there are two tiers for GCSE Maths now. Foundation where you can achieve grades G to C and Higher where you an achieve grades D to A*.

All the papers cover all grades - in the linear specification you sit two papers at the end of the course, one calculator and one non-calculator. All topics are tested over the two papers - they will test all levels from D to A* and usually the harder questions are nearer the end of the paper as a rough rule of thumb.

In the modular specification there are I think three papers - topics are split across these and you will know in advance what you are working for. Again there are two levels for each paper (same as linear).

Does that make sense?

MrsHerculePoirot Wed 01-Jun-11 09:59:53

sorry x-posts there!

ninah Wed 01-Jun-11 10:03:27

god that sounds confusing! in that case the papers I did last year were as you describe linear one calc one non calc

mumonhomework Fri 03-Jun-11 11:08:10

I could never help my DS & DD with maths ( or science ) which is why I set-up Stuck on homework to help other teenagers ( and their stressed parents ) out. DS has GCSE maths on monday & friday next week & is fairly calm but DD has her first science modules & doesn't seem to have grasped the concept of revision yet...

fairydoll Sat 04-Jun-11 20:04:27

better hutty up- only one more day to go!!

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