Advanced search

Got maths GCSE grade A struggling at AS maths now told it's normal

(30 Posts)
ddsmellysocks Fri 01-Feb-13 14:54:30

How can this be - is maths really that hard. Teachers say there is a big jump for all A levels why is this? Is it not proof that not everyone should be having to stay in full time education if only there were jobs out their?

Lilymaid Fri 01-Feb-13 14:59:39

Can only comment from DCs experience. One had no problem, but had taken GCSE in Y10 and then a "freestanding maths qualification" in Y11. The other found it a real step change but gradually improved performance to end up with a B at A2.

bruffin Fri 01-Feb-13 15:06:54

Not unusual from what I can gather. Maths is supposed to be one of the hardest A levels which is why a lot of schools wont let you take maths without at least A Gcse.
My Ds is doing maths and further maths and doing ok but it is hard work. His teacher says the ones that do well are those that do lots of extra practice.

Startail Fri 01-Feb-13 15:08:38

Always has been, I have A for o level, B for additional Maths and a D for A Level and I'm 45.

Maths becomes an art as much as a science, you kind have have to have a feel for the harder stuff. It's very hard to explain, but the best mathematicians just look at an equation and know what method to use to solve it.

Maths is a language to them, just as music or languages are to some people.

DH is a computer scientist and a better mathematician than me, but he said watching their professor solve things that stumped a roomful of bright postgrads was quite amazing. Maths was just hard wired into his soul.

noblegiraffe Fri 01-Feb-13 15:13:46

Yes, it is very common for students who 'only' got an A at GCSE to struggle with the leap to A-level. A lot of the content of the C1 module is A* GCSE material so those who got an A* find it easier as it is revision.

What usually happens is that the student either drops out early for another subject, struggles on and drops maths at AS, or finally gets into the swing of things and goes on go be very successful.

A lot depends on how much independent work is put in outside of lessons, especially practising algebra.

Abra1d Fri 01-Feb-13 15:16:42

My children's schools moved to IGCSE in pretty well everything because of this jump in the level expected when A level courses begin. Not sure how IGCSE maths compares with GCSE, though, as I did O level myself, 200 years ago.

CaptainNancy Fri 01-Feb-13 15:37:46

I think this has long been the case... mainly because GCSE Mathematics isn't really mathmatics- it's arithmetic, use of number, manipulation etc. A Level maths is mathmatics, and it need a completely different mindset.

secretscwirrels Fri 01-Feb-13 15:53:24

DS is doing Maths and Further Maths, having got A*s in Maths and Stats at GCSE.
He 's loving it and wants to a Maths degree but he says that many of the class who got A*s are finding it tough. It's the first time he has had to work at maths and for the recent AS exams (he had core 1, core 2 and mechanics) he did dozens of practise papers. This extra stuff isn't set as specific homework, he just did it for his own benefit.

Schooldidi Fri 01-Feb-13 15:54:31

I think part of the reason so many people 'struggle' at Maths AS is because it is building on things you have studied at GCSE, so if you have an A* a lot of the AS is revision, but if you have an A then a lot of the AS is things you struggled with at GCSE but you are expected to just work harder until you've got to grips with them. Many pupils don't 'get' that you have to put the work in outside of lessons right from the start, it's not usually enough to just revise before the exam.

Other subjects don't necessarily build on previous knowledge like Maths does. The subject content for subjects such as History, Geography, English, etc is completely separate at GCSE and A level, so as long as you have a basic grasp of the method of study and have reasonable Essay-writing skills then you can get on with it.

I don't think just because your ds is struggling with A level Maths you can then generalise that it isn't a good idea for everyone to stay in full time education. It may be a really good idea as long as young people are given more guidance about which type of course would suit them. I make it very clear to all pupils in my year 11 Maths classes that if they take A level Maths with an A or B then they will find it hard and will need to put in a massive amount of work to get the grade they want. It's up to them if they decide to take it, but at least they understand how much work they will be expected to do. If they aren't prepared to do it, they choose to do something different. Apprenticeships count as education, as do vocational courses at colleges, nobody is forced to stay at school and do A levels, just that they are doing some form of education.

TheSecondComing Fri 01-Feb-13 15:58:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Marlinspike Fri 01-Feb-13 15:59:46

My DS got A* at GCSE, taken in yr 10, and did the freestanding qualification. he did maths & further maths at A level, achieving A in maths and B in FM, and he's now studying maths at uni - so I guess he's one of the ones who has the language hardwired, as Startail suggests. He did retake one of his FM modules, and he found the mechanics modules particularly hard (he didn't do physics at A level).

Interestingly his class a A level (the same group did maths and FM together) were all male (20 of them). 1 girl did AS, then dropped the FM for A2.

noblegiraffe Fri 01-Feb-13 16:02:08

Yes, I agree that part of the leap with maths A-level is the need to work independently, and to have to try hard to understand concepts. Some struggle to organise their work, and expect to be able to do their homework the lesson before its due in and run out of time, or do their homework but not understand some of the questions and simply hand it in half finished saying 'I didn't get question 6 onwards' without even looking at their notes or textbook or Internet to see if they can figure it out.

Our textbooks have the answers in the back, yet some students do exercises, then hand in work which is wrong - they haven't even checked their answers are right, because 'that would be cheating'. They should be checking their answers, and if they are wrong they should be having another go.

Lots of students struggle with this way of working, even before they start on the maths.

GinandJag Fri 01-Feb-13 17:22:55

You can be great at maths at each stage, but eventually you will hit your own ceiling.

For some students, they can get A* at GCSE, and at that point have reached their potential and can go no further.

The A* only partially comes from being able to understand the topics. It also comes from speed, accuracy, quick recall of tables etc. It is not a predictor of future mathematical success.

prettydaisies Fri 01-Feb-13 17:46:19

I think you need to put in lots of extra practice - doing lots and lots of questions round a topic.
My DD got an A* at the end of Y10, then and A in ad maths and is now doing maths and further maths. But she has worked very hard since Y10 to achieve this. I don't think she is a natural and I don't think she loves maths but she does work very hard at it. We can also support her at home which has helped.
She will do her maths A level this year and then maybe further maths next year, but we'll see. Core 3 mock today - I wonder how it went?

circular Fri 01-Feb-13 18:08:59

We were told by one 6th form that statistically B grade GCSE maths students generally get a D or worse at AS. Possibly because only 50% is needed for a B grade (A around 60%). So if those grades were hit by not knowing/understanding a large chunk of the course, they will be behind at the start.

My DD1 (yr11) is planning to take maths A level and is only predicted an A grade. She loses marks on careless mistakes and some of the easier topics, but seems to grasp the harder stuff and is better at Physics which she plans to take as well. So everything crossed it will work out for her.
She has already been warned not to let maths slip once GCSE over, so plenty of bridging work planned for the summer holidays.

I got an A for O'level, found the pure maths part of A level a doddle, but being cr*p at physics could not grasp the mechanics (which was half the course back then) so did well to end up with a C.

webwiz Fri 01-Feb-13 18:25:00

I think the point about the skills and knowledge in the A level building on those gained in the GCSE is an important one - DD2 got almost full marks in her maths GCSE and has a good maths memory. When they covered topics in the A level that extended GCSE work she found it easy to remember the earlier work (and usually that they'd done in on a friday afternoon in february as well) whereas a lot of the class would be saying "have we done this before?"

GoingBackToSchool Sat 02-Feb-13 20:21:09

I did a-level maths 2 years ago and the jump was huge, more so than my other subjects i thought. I got a low C in my first module and wasn't very happy, but it got better smile it was a case of practises practice practice! Boring but effective! It is definitely normal to find it hard. Just keep going smile

GoingBackToSchool Sat 02-Feb-13 20:22:08

And I got an A at the end of it all, so it does get better- not necessarily easier as such, but better smile

Overcooked Sat 02-Feb-13 20:25:35

I got an a at GCSE maths and was surprised at how much extra work I had to put in at a level, it really is about practice because the principles are difficult to grasp and unless you properly gasp them you can't move on and won't do well. Particularly with pure maths, I found mechanical maths easier - this is more like physics and seemed more of a logical subject - pure maths does not seem logical - it is hard.

NewFerry Sat 02-Feb-13 21:33:27

At my DCs school the students are given a text book to work through between their GCSEs and the start of year 12. I think this is really helpful, and as they have students coming in from different schools it means they all start at the same level.

CloudsAway Sun 03-Feb-13 06:13:38

do you have the name of that book, NewFerry? It sounds useful. Is it written specifically as a bridging book?

Kez100 Sun 03-Feb-13 09:57:19

Of course it's not an indication that students shouldn't stay on into further education. Very few choose A level Maths and the other academic A levels. I'm an accountant and I didn't do A level maths (200 years ago) I did a National Diploma. My daughter got (through jolly hard work) a C grated GCSE but has also moved onto a Diploma where currently she has scored the maximum grades possible. Further education gives a huge range of opportunities for all ability children.

circular Sun 03-Feb-13 10:19:10

Cloudsaway - We were recommended this one recently at a 6th form open evening
Headstart to AS Maths

CloudsAway Sun 03-Feb-13 12:26:18

thank you

balia Sun 03-Feb-13 12:37:48

DD got an A for maths and an A for statistics and she really really worked for them. She tried A level but found it so much harder - I think startail gets it right as far as DD is concerned - she got GCSE's by sheer effort, but she isn't naturally good at Maths.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: