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New Maths GCSE and A level, has the gap narrowed?

(24 Posts)
woodstack Fri 22-Jun-18 20:44:35

So the bar has been raised for GCSE Maths, does this mean that the big leap between GCSE and A level Maths has now been reduced? Or have they raised the bar for A level too and the leap is just as big?

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Fri 22-Jun-18 21:33:28

Kids can get a 7 and meet the entry requirements for A-level with 50% at GCSE, so can still be crap at algebra. A lot of the extra time at GCSE has been wasted on new topics instead of studying the old topics in more depth.

It’s not that they’ve raised the bar at A-level, it’s that they bodged the GCSE.

It’s summed up pretty well here: www.resourceaholic.com/2017/09/gcsedebate.html

TheFrendo Fri 22-Jun-18 21:56:01

A grade 7 student in June 2017 could have got nearly half the questions wrong. (Edexcel 124/240 gained grade 7).

At the top, grade 9 students have to concentrate on not making mistakes, for them it is almost a a times table test.

The new GCSE is all over the place.

woodstack Sat 23-Jun-18 06:55:20

Thanks both. You can get half the paper wrong and get a 7?! shock. So the gap between GCSE and A level remains. What a cock-up.

OP’s posts: |
GHGN Sat 23-Jun-18 09:16:53

If you make the exam harder but want to keep the same proportion of pupils getting a grade 7 and above the same as the proportion of A/A* grade then obviously nothing will change. They should reduce the number of topics, study them in depth, maybe changing the grades available for foundation so the students who take higher paper are the ones who actually needs Maths beyond year 11.

MrsSteptoe Sat 23-Jun-18 09:26:45

Glad I came across this thread. My DS wants to do Maths at A level (though I'm not sure if the school will insist on an A* at GCSE, I'm finding out at parents evening). I was planning on heaving a sigh of relief if the maths teacher said he could do it with a 7. Now I'm thinking it could be a mistake to embark on an A level if he gets a 7 as it sounds like he could really struggle. Is that what's behind your thread - lots of struggling A level students at maths because the grade boundary is too low for an A/7?

GHGN Sat 23-Jun-18 09:57:38

A 7 is enough if the students realise that it is the minimum requirement and they don’t expect to get the same grade at A Level without working (much) more than what they did for GCSE. Attitude and effort are far more important. Obviously for some students, 7 at GCSE is their absolute limit and they can’t go on much further. Being realistic is quite important too.

woodstack Sat 23-Jun-18 10:04:27

Yes MrsSteptoe, it is. My dd contemplating maths a level. I was hoping that a 7 at gcse would be enough to do reasonably well at a level. But I can see now that getting a 7 does not demonstrate mastery of the curriculum!

Have they made A level maths harder too?

OP’s posts: |
TheThirdOfHerName Sat 23-Jun-18 10:14:52

DS2 has just done Maths GCSE and a Level 2 Further Maths certificate.

He is hoping to do Maths and Further Maths A-levels. At his school, anyone who wants to do Maths A-level is expected to do a home-learning 'Preparing for Maths A-level' course over the summer, and then sit a test in the first week of September.

The content of the course has changed since DS1 did it two years ago, presumably to adjust to the different content of the 9-1 GCSE.

I've seen the material, and it's produced by Edexcel/Pearson, which is the exam board they're using for A-level. There are 23 worksheets with links to the topics they'll be studying in the first year of A-level. About 3/4 of it is algebra.

TheThirdOfHerName Sat 23-Jun-18 10:21:58

DS2 is hoping to get 9 in Maths and A^ in the F.Maths certificate. If he does as well in his GCSEs as he did in his mocks, this is feasible. He enjoys Maths. He does UKMT challenges for fun and got a merit in the Intermediate Olympiad this year.

DS1 got a high A in the old-style Maths GCSE, but he had to work hard for that. He started the Maths A-level course but soon realised it was not for him and wisely switched to a different subject.

MrsSteptoe Sat 23-Jun-18 11:38:11

He started the Maths A-level course but soon realised it was not for him and wisely switched to a different subject.

TheThirdOfHerName just out of interest - not having trodden this path before - at what point did he switch? DS is miserably stuck doing RE GCSE and it would be great to think that we would be a bit more on the front foot with A levels and that we would make a change in good time if he insists on doing Maths and realises that it's not a go-er.

MrsSteptoe Sat 23-Jun-18 11:40:06

(Thanks to GHGN and Woodstack for their replies)
Great thread, thanks so much for starting it

LooseAtTheSeams Sat 23-Jun-18 12:31:10

I must admit I'm a bit worried about the jump in maths to A level. DS is hesitating between maths and English. If he chooses the former then hopefully the add maths they did in the lessons this year will have helped, but I think his natural ability is in English. I think he'll just have to wait for results day before deciding for sure.

TheFrendo Sat 23-Jun-18 12:50:49

Maths A level does not appear to have got harder. Some topics have been shifted to further maths and some topics widened.

Solid algebra and an ability to do quadratics fluently are a must. A level is still more about process and technique rather than lateral or creative thinking. For the latter, the maths challenge papers are good. The intermediate level is suitable for Y11 & below.

MrsSteptoe Sat 23-Jun-18 14:02:40

@TheFrendo - For the latter, the maths challenge papers are good. The intermediate level is suitable for Y11 & below. But presumably if A level is still more about process and technique, the maths challenge papers wouldn't necessarily be the wisest way to practise if they focus on lateral and creative thinking? Genuine question!

TheThirdOfHerName Sat 23-Jun-18 14:53:49

@MrsSteptoe he changed two of his subjects half-way through the Autumn Term of Y12.

There was a lot of catching up to do, and in one subject (English Literature) he did struggle from having missed skills taught in that first half-term. However, it was preferable to him continuing with Maths.

TheFrendo Sat 23-Jun-18 17:18:30

You are right, the maths challenge papers are not necessary to get good grades at A level.

The harder/hardest A level questions often have parts which are less obvious, where a little a bit of thought about how to use the information you have been given is required. Experience of UKMC type questions can help here. Even so, most of these you can get from practise.

There was a post on here a year or two back by a poster who had got A*, A* in maths and further maths said that she never considered herself a mathematician and that she was simply well-schooled.

MarchingFrogs Sat 23-Jun-18 21:05:37

maybe changing the grades available for foundation so the students who take higher paper are the ones who actually needs Maths beyond year 11.

So would you advocate students deciding at the age of 12 or 13 whether they will 'need' the higher paper? At the stage of deciding GCSE options, DS1 wanted to be an English teacher. It came as a bit of a surprise to me when I was looking at sixth forms with him, that he had changed his mind to something which, if not itself actually requiring A level Maths, required at least one other A level rendered very much easier by taking maths alongside it.

GHGN Sat 23-Jun-18 21:55:10

Nobody needs to decide which tier students should sit until much later. I had decided to change tier to some students one week before their exam. This is not the 11 plus.

MarchingFrogs Sun 24-Jun-18 15:47:45

I thought that 'which tier?' was part of the entry for GCSE and that schools had to finalise their entries sometime in the spring term, but obviously I was mistaken there. Admittedly, all of ours have done / are doing GCSEs at schools where foundation is not something they do.

noblegiraffe Sun 24-Jun-18 16:06:22

You can change later than Easter Y11 but have to pay a late amendment fee to the exam board.

MrsSteptoe Sun 24-Jun-18 17:26:51

Tier? Did I miss something? God, secondary education is a constant feeling that no-one gave me the manual. Thank God for MN. Presumably if I'd needed to know anything about tiers, someone would have told me?

Pumpkintopf Sun 24-Jun-18 17:45:55

Sorry, lost - they have to decide by Easter year 11 whether to put students in for foundation or higher papers, is that right? I too had no idea about this!

noblegiraffe Sun 24-Jun-18 17:49:11

They’ll probably know well before then which paper they’ll be sitting, most cases are clear cut. Those that aren’t clear cut (students around the 4-5 borderline) are usually decided by Y11 mocks.

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