Congrats, you’re about to complete your secondary school education and obtain your A-Level diplomas! As you get ready to take your AQA A-Level Mathematics exams, you’re probably thinking about how much content you have to learn, revise and then be tested on. Fear not, help is here! We know that exams can be overwhelming, and we appreciate that planning your revision tasks and acquiring revision materials is no easy feat. Here’s all you need to know to prepare for your A-Level Maths exams and what we have done to help.
By now you may have noticed that A-Level exams are fairly similar across different examination boards. The core content, in particular, is largely the same. However, the optional modules vary in structure and number across exam boards. Edexcel is particular when it comes to A-Level Maths because it doesn’t give students the choice to learn statistics and/or mechanics and/or decision-making as optional modules. Instead, it requires that all students (both AS and A-Level) cover both mechanics and statistics in addition to pure mathematics.
About the Board
The Edexcel examination board emerged in 2003 following an agreement between the Edexcel Foundation and Pearson Plc. To this day they are the only privately-owned examination board in the United Kingdom. Their A-Level Mathematics course is a linear one, meaning that students must sit all of the exams at the end of each academic year (i.e. in May or June), instead of throughout it (which is what modular subjects are like).
How long will the course take to complete?
The Edexcel AS Level Mathematics course takes one academic year to complete, whereas the A-Level Maths course takes two academic years to finish. You are at liberty to choose either AS or A-Level Maths and what you do will largely depend on your interest in the subject. However, it’s worth remembering that most universities, apprenticeships, and jobs require that you complete three full A-Levels in secondary school. Maths can but doesn’t have to be one of those.
Is any prior knowledge required?
The AQA board states that there are no prior learning requirements for students taking A-Level maths. However, they do note that those would benefit most from it are students how have completed a prior course like, for example, GCSE Mathematics.
What will I study?
As A-Level Mathematics is a very sequential subject, what you study will depend on whether you are taking AS or A-Level Mathematics. All of the students begin by learning AS Level content in the first year, and then those that elect to stop will take their exams and obtain their final qualification. Those that elect to take the full A-Level will continue with their learning for another year.
All students will cover Pure Mathematics and within that the topics of proof; algebra and functions; coordinate geometry; sequences and series; trigonometry; exponentials and logarithms; differentiation; integration; and, vectors. A-Level students will study the same topics but at much greater depth as well as covering an extra topic, numerical methods.
Similarly, all students will cover Statistics and Mechanics and within that the topics of statistical sampling; data presentation and interpretation; probability; statistical distributions; statistical hypothesis testing; quantities and units in mechanics; kinematics; and, forces and Newton’s laws. Just like with pure maths, A-Level students will study those topics at a greater length and also one more topic, moments.
What is the examination process like?
Compared to other examination boards, the Edexcel A-Level Mathematics course has the smallest number of exams, but at the same time, the exams themselves are the longest. Therefore, if you are taking AS Level Maths, then you will sit two exams. One exam will test your knowledge of Pure Mathematics. It will last 2 hours and count for 62.5% of your final mark. The second exam will test your knowledge of Statistics and Mechanics. It will last one hour and fifteen minutes and count for 37.5% of your final grade.
If you are taking A-Level Mathematics, then you will sit three exams. The first two exams will test your knowledge of Pure Mathematics. Each will last 2 hours and count for 33.33% of your final grade. Then the third exam will test your knowledge of Statistics and Mechanics. It too will last 2 hours and count for a third of your final mark.
Conventional wisdom states that during the revision season, students should take three to four hours a day to revise for each of their A-Levels. This amount of time is the sweet spot which means that you are balancing between working hard and getting into deep-learning stages and not burning out. However, what conventional wisdom doesn’t give you a lot of information about is how to study. We recommend that as opposed to spending all your time with a textbook in hand, you should be spicing up your revision technique with all kinds of methods! Flashcards, for example, are a great way to memorise equations, rules, and concepts in order to be able to recall them later and use them in practice.
Meanwhile, quizzes are a great and quick way to test your knowledge and ability to tackle questions on specific topics. Finally, past exam papers are your best friend when revising for A-Level Mathematics exams. They let you practice real exam questions under a time constraint and gain the necessary confidence to employ all of your revised skills and knowledge in an exam environment. To help you get going, we’ve assembled some fantastic revision materials – take a look and start getting ready for your exams today!