Well done, you’ve almost made it – soon you’ll be finishing your secondary education and getting your A-Level diplomas! With all the exams you’ll be taking, the revision season may very well start to feel overwhelming at some point. There are many topics to cover in different subjects and all in the same time span. Lucky for you, there’s no need to panic. We at A-Level Maths are here to help! Here’s all the information you need to take your exams and how we can help you along the way.
Although A-Level Maths courses are fairly similar regardless of the examination board, there are important differences to bear in mind when sitting the exams themselves. If you are taking OCR A-Level Maths, you’ll need to know that OCR offers two different A-Level courses: Mathematics A and Mathematics B. Which one of those you’re on will determine which content you need to study, which past papers to practice on and how your exams are structured. So make sure to check this information as being aware of it will help you a lot during revision.
About the Board
The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR) exam board was formed back in 1998 after several mergers, abolitions, and handovers happened during the 1990s. It’s run by the University of Cambridge and is today one of the four oldest and largest examination bodies in the country. When it comes to Maths, OCR is unique because they offer two types of courses: A-Level Mathematics A and A-Level Mathematics B. The former was created in consultation with teachers, employers and Higher Education institutions, while the latter version was created in partnership with Mathematics in Education and Industry.
How long will the course take to complete?
How long it takes to complete the course depends on whether you choose to take AS or A-Level Maths. The AS course has been designed to be completed in one year, while the full A-Level will take two years. You’re free to choose either option, but don’t forget to think about your future when you do. As a general rule universities and most jobs and apprenticeships too require you to have completed three full A-Levels. Higher Education natural science courses also require one of those 3 A-Levels to be indeed in maths.
Is any prior knowledge required?
The OCR board states that in both A-Level Mathematics A and A-Level Mathematics B it is assumed that students have mastered the content from GCSE Mathematics courses (or equivalent).
What will I study?
What you study and how you study it will depend both on whether you are taking Maths A or Maths B, and on whether you are taking AS or A-Level Maths. This leaves you with four different options for studying OCR A-Level Mathematics. threeIf taking Maths A, then you will take 3 modules: pure mathematics, statistics, and mechanics. While they are taught separately, students should be able to make links between the three fields. The Pure Mathematics topics which AS Level Maths A students will cover are proof, algebra, and functions, coordinate geometry, sequences and series, trigonometry, exponentials and logarithms, differentiation, integration, and vectors. Meanwhile, those taking the full A-Level course will cover all of those topics in much greater depth plus one more topic, numerical methods. Next, in Statistics AS Level students will cover statistical sampling, data presentation and interpretation, probability, statistical distributions, and statistical hypothesis testing. Similarly, as with Pure Maths, A-Level students will study those same topics but at a more advanced level. Finally, in Mechanics, AS Level students will learn about quantities and units in mechanics, kinematics, and forces and Newton’s laws. Not only will A-Level students study those topics in greater detail, but they will cover one extra topic – moments.
Similarly in Maths B you’ll cover three fields: pure maths, mechanics, and statistics. Within pure mathematics, you’ll learn about proof, algebra, graphs, sequences, trigonometry, logarithms, calculus, and vectors. Then in Mechanics, you’ll study kinematics, motion under gravity, working with forces, Newton’s laws and simple moments. Finally, in Statistics, you’ll: work with data from samples in order to make inferences about a population, calculate probability, use binomial and Normal distributions as models, and test hypotheses. Once again, the difference between AS and A-Level students will be in how much depth they study those topics in.
What is the examination process like?
Whether you take AS or A-Level Mathematics with OCR you’ll be sitting three exams, one for each of the modules you take. The sole difference will be in the content of the exams you take. This goes for Maths A and Maths B. If you take OCR A-Level Mathematics A then you’ll sit three exams, Pure Mathematics, Pure Mathematics & Statistics, and Pure Mathematics & Mechanics. Each of the exams will last 2 hours and be worth a third of your final grade. Meanwhile, if you take OCR A-Level Mathematics B then you’ll also sit three exams, Pure Mathematics & Mechanics, Pure Mathematics & Statistics, and Pure Mathematics & Comprehension. All three exams will last 2 hours each. However, the first two will be worth 36.4% of your final mark each, and the third exam will be worth 27.3% of your final grade.
It is recommended that you study about three to four hours each day for your OCR A-Level Maths exams. You should use this time wisely and employ several revision methods, beyond just reading your textbook. One of the most dynamic ways to learn your equations is to write them out on colour coded flashcards and practice recalling them that way. Other revision methods useful for A-Level Maths include quizzes and past exam papers. Interactive quizzes can help you test your topic-specific knowledge as you study. Meanwhile, past papers are particularly useful for practicing and testing your maths knowledge under timed conditions.
To help you out this revision season we’ve put together a bunch of these materials which you can now use to excel in your upcoming exams. Have a look for yourself and get going on your journey to A-Level success!