When learning mathematics, you are always building on the knowledge and skills you have already acquired. This continues to be true in the Sixth Form and, in addition, you will need to be able to apply standard techniques to new situations and to select the correct method to solve a particular problem. The feeling of achievement that comes from finally solving what at first seems to be an intractable problem is unique to the subject.
A Level Mathematics can be studied in combination with any other subject and is a particularly good complement to the sciences, economics or geography. However, wherever your main interest may lie, if you are good at and enjoy mathematics, it is worth considering pursuing the subject in the Sixth Form. The analytical and problem-solving techniques which are developed at this level are valued in many disciplines and are highly regarded by employers.
- Pure Mathematics, which extends the algebra and trigonometry met at IGCSE/GCSE (or equivalent) and introduces topics such as calculus.
- Mechanics, in which the motion of objects and how they respond to forces acting upon them are modelled mathematically.
- Statistics, which extends the handling data topics and probability from IGCSE/GCSE to include the use of statistics when testing hypotheses.
A calculator that is more powerful than the standard scientific ones is required for A Level Mathematics. A graphical display calculator can give you a distinct advantage on some A Level exam questions. As such we strongly recommend purchasing a graphical display calculator and can offer guidance with this.
Students follow the Linear A Level course. We follow OCR specification A. Assessment will be by 3 examinations, all taken at the end of the two year course. The papers will be of equal weighting (100 marks each), and will last 2 hours each.
The content will be as follows:
Paper 1 Pure Maths
Paper 2 Pure Maths and Statistics
Paper 3 Pure Maths and Mechanics
Plenty! There will be timetabled sessions of support - normally at lunchtime, although this is broadened as we approach exam time in the Spring Term. You will find, too, that staff are more than happy to provide support at other times, outside of lessons, either in person or by email. It is important that you are honest and keep talking with staff about how you are getting on. Support is also given to students who are preparing for aptitude tests, as part of their university application. Such tests include STEP, TMUA and MAT.
Single A Level - normally two teachers. This would be one for Pure and Statistics, one for Pure and Mechanics.
Further A Level - normally three teachers. This would be one for Pure and Statistics, one for Pure and Mechanics and then a third for Pure Maths, including much of the Further Pure Maths content.
The main difference is in terms of the pace at which you are expected to tackle problems. For example, algebraic manipulation needs to be performed more quickly than in Year 11, whilst avoiding errors, thus allowing students to move on to the more challenging part of the question.
Clearly, some concepts which you will be introduced to are more difficult than you have seen before, however it is the nature of the problems which you will find hard. Questions are often quite “open”, so that students need to decide which method might be appropriate, in order to move forward.