Look at that, it’s almost time for you’re A-Level Maths exams! Before you know it, it’ll be exam season and you’ll be sitting one assessment after the other to complete your course and get your AQA A-Level Mathematics diploma. While the big bulk of revision ahead and the many exams that await may sound overwhelming, you shouldn’t panic. With the right revision plan and a structured approach before you know it, you’ll be ready for your exams. In order to help you through this busy period, here’s all you need to know about your upcoming exams and how we can help you succeed in them.
As you may have noticed A-Level Mathematics exams are fairly standardised. However, the many different examination boards do each take slightly different approaches to assessment and it’s good to keep this in mind. The AQA maths exams, for example, have a coursework component for one of their statistics modules, which is important to remember as you plan your revision.
About the Board
The Assessment and Qualification Alliance (AQA) exam board was born in 2000 after several exam boards merged in the previous decades. As one of the most prominent British examination boards, they offer a wide range of secondary school diplomas. Currently, the AQA A-Level Mathematics course only offers examinations in June each year. This means that the A-Level is graded in a linear, not a modular way i.e. that you take all of your exams not throughout the academic year but at the end of it.
How long will the course take to complete?
The AQA A-Level Mathematics course usually takes one or two academic years to complete. How long it will take exactly largely depends on whether you choose to take AS or A-Level Mathematics. If you take AS Level Mathematics, then the course is likely to take one year to complete. Meanwhile, if you opted for A-Level Mathematics then the full course will take you two years to finish. You are, of course, welcome to choose either AS or A-Level Maths. The choice is completely yours. However, you should bear in mind that many continuing education programs (be it apprenticeships, colleges or universities) require that you have a minimum of three A-Levels (and then as many AS Levels as you like).
Is any prior knowledge required?
The AQA board states that they have no specific requirements about prior courses and taking Mathematics exams at levels lower than this. However, as they specify, “[maths] is, inherently, a sequential subject,” they expect the A-Level Mathematics student to be up to date in terms of content in order to be able to begin the course. So you are generally recommended to have completed a prior course in maths, preferably GCSE Mathematics (or equivalent.
What will I study?
What you study will largely depend on whether you are taking AS or A-Level Mathematics. If you take AS Level Maths, then you must complete three modules to get your certificate. These must include the two core mathematics modules as well as one of the optional modules. The optional modules within the AQA AS Level Mathematics are Statistics 1, Statistics 2 (including coursework), Mechanics 1 and Decision-making 1.
Meanwhile, if you elect to take the full A-Level course then you will have to complete six modules to obtain your diploma. The obligatory modules will be the four core mathematics modules; on top of those, you will get to choose two optional modules. You can elect to take 2 modules in one of the 3 elective streams: mechanics, statistics and decision-making. Alternatively, you can take one of each – like Mechanics 1 and Statistics 1, or Mechanics 1 and Decision-Making 1, or Statistics 1 and Decision-Making 1. Be aware that your options may be limited by what is offered at your school.
What is the examination process like?
The AQA A-Level Mathematics exam process is fairly straight forward. If you’re taking AS Level maths, then you will take three exams (one for each of your modules). Each will last one hour and thirty minutes and count for a third of your final grade. The only exception is if you take the Statistics 2 module which also has a coursework component. In that case for this particular module, you will sit one exam for 1 hour and 15 minutes which will count for 25% of your final grade. In addition to that, you will complete coursework which will count for 8.3% of your final grade.
However, if you take the full A-Level Mathematics course then you will six exams, one for each of your six modules. Each of the exams will last 1 hour and 30 minutes and count for a sixth of your final grade. Again, if you take the Statistics 2 module then your assessment will change slightly. You will sit the 1 hour and 15 minutes long exam which will count for 12.5% of your final grade and you will complete the compulsory coursework which will count for just over 4% of your final grade.
Revision and practice are key to succeeding in your AQA A-Level Mathematics exams. Therefore, you are recommended to spend about three to four hours revising each day. While there are many important formulas, concepts, and rules to learn in maths, revision is most definitely not all about using just your textbook. In fact, research has shown that students with more diverse revision approaches tend to retain information more easily. Spice up your revision with tools like flashcards to remember your formulas and equations. And, most importantly in preparing for any maths exams practice really does make perfect. You should be making use of as many past exam papers as you can find. These will give you a great understanding of what types of questions are out there, and practicing using the rules and equations you’ve learned will help you remember. Of course, finding all those materials and structuring them isn’t easy. This is why we at A-Level Maths have compiled a whole range of quizzes, past papers, and flashcards for you to use in your revision. Take a look and get started today!