We have put together a list of FAQs to help with teachers’ questions. It will be updated as more details become available.
As with all new A levels, they are becoming linear. It will still be possible to take an AS in Mathematics based on half of the content of the A level but the marks from this will not count towards the full A level – all the A level assessment will be taken at the end of the course. The new A levels in Mathematics will all have the same content – this has been decided nationally. The content includes some mechanics and some statistics as well as more or less the same pure content as the current mathematics A levels. There is a greater emphasis on problem solving, modelling and reasoning in the new A levels but they are intended to be at the same level of difficulty as the current A levels.
We have produced a document that highlights the changes to content for AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics for first teaching from September 2017. MEI has also produced a video that provides more detail about the changes.
As with all new A levels, they are becoming linear. It will still be possible to take an AS in Further Mathematics based on half the content of the A level but the marks from this will not count towards the full A level – all the A level assessment will be taken at the end of the course. All the new A levels in Further Mathematics will have half their content the same – this has been decided nationally. There is a greater emphasis on problem solving, modelling and reasoning in the new A levels but they are intended to be at the same level of difficulty as the current A levels.
We have produced a document that highlights the changes to content for AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics for first teaching from September 2017. MEI has also produced a video that provides more detail about the changes.
Modelling in mathematics is about starting with a real life situation, making assumptions to simplify and decide what features are important and which are not. This allows mathematics to be used to provide information about the real situation. It is then necessary to check whether the answer to the simplified situation is good enough – perhaps simplifying has ignored a feature which turns out to be important. Modelling is already present in current A levels – particularly in mechanics and statistics. Mathematical modelling is also widely used in subjects such as economics. The new A levels will place more emphasis on thinking about modelling assumptions and will include more modelling using pure mathematics.
Following the publication of the A level Content Advisory Board report on Mathematics and Further Mathematics the content of A level Mathematics is 100% compulsory and does not include decision maths. Further Mathematics options based on discrete maths may be developed.
The pure content of A level Mathematics has not changed much so you may find some of the teaching materials you use now are still useful. However, the change to linear A levels and an increased emphasis on reasoning, modelling and problem solving will mean that you will need some additional teaching materials that include new types of questions and link between topics. The mechanics and statistics content of the new A level Mathematics is different to any current M1 or S1 unit so new teaching materials will be needed. A level Further Mathematics includes 50% compulsory content. Some of this will be in your current textbooks but it will be important to build in links between topics and a greater emphasis on reasoning, problem solving and modelling.
Draft specifications will be available when awarding organisations submit them to Ofqual in early June 2016. Final specifications will not be available until the qualifications are accredited.
All A levels will be linear and it will still be possible to teach the AS content in year 12. Students who are not confident of achieving the full A level could be entered for the AS and achieve a useful qualification in mathematics at the end of year 12. They can then go on to take the full A level, if they wish to do so, but the AS marks will not count towards the A level grade.
It will be possible to teach AS Mathematics as the year 12 part of a two year A level Mathematics course. Further Mathematics specifications will include options; at least one route through an A level Further Mathematics course will include AS content that can be taught in year 12 alongside AS Mathematics.
Further Mathematics specifications will include options; at least one route through an A level Further Mathematics course will include AS content that can be taught in year 12 alongside AS Mathematics. Since there is no overlap between Mathematics and Further Mathematics content in the new specifications, you could choose Mathematics from one awarding organisation and Further Mathematics from another. The FMSP are ready to offer help and advice about offering Further Mathematics.
There is no need for all teachers to teach mechanics but you do need at least one teacher for each A level Mathematics class who can do so. We offer a more extensive course in teaching mechanics for the 2017 A level.
It is important to build in problem solving opportunities for all students throughout the course – these can be at the start of a new topic, during the topic or at the end. There are some suitable resources on the Nrich site. MEI offers free CPD for A level teachers to introduce them to the problem solving resources produced by the Underground Mathematics Project.
The scheme of work we are producing will be suitable for all specifications and will include examples of questions to test students’ understanding.
No, the regulations do not allow coursework in Mathematics and Further Mathematics specifications for teaching from September 2017.
Problem solving questions will vary. You can see some examples in Ofqual’s A level Mathematics Working Group report.
Different specifications may have different numbers of examination papers and these may be of different lengths. For reformed AS and A levels which have started teaching from 2015, a total of 6 hours assessment for A level is typical; for AS, 3 hours is typical.
The Ofqual’s conditions and requirements documents for GCE Mathematics and GCE Further Mathematics include appendices that list the formulae that students are expected to learn for AS/A level Mathematics and for AS/A level Further Mathematics, respectively. Other formulae that the students are expected to use will be provided in examinations.
The earliest opportunity to be awarded the new AS level Mathematics and the new AS level Further Mathematics will be the summer of 2018. It will also be possible to be awarded the new A levels in Mathematics in the summer of 2018, although the current A level Mathematics will also be available in the summer of 2018. The new A level in Further Mathematics will first be awarded in summer 2019.
The idea is that students should explore the data set using technology such as a spreadsheet. This should form part of their learning of statistics. The emphasis of statistics in A level Mathematics is changing to focus more on interpretation of data. You may find it helpful to look at the Statistical Problem Solving paper of MEI’s Quantitative Problem Solving Core Maths qualification; this makes use of a large data set. There is some guidance about the large data set in Ofqual’s A level Mathematics Working Group report. MEI is developing advice for teachers on using large data sets in teaching. The FMSP offers a more extensive course in teaching statistics for the 2017 A Level.
There is no regulation requiring a non-calculator paper. The different specifications may take slightly different approaches to calculator use.
The national content for AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics requires students to be able to use calculators with particular features. Options in Further Mathematics may need students to have other features on their calculators. The features required for the compulsory content are listed below along with an indication of the calculators we know that have these features. New calculator models come onto the market frequently so the best thing is to check with the manufacturer’s list of features.
Feature |
Mathematics or Further Mathematics? |
What calculators have this feature? |
Iteration |
Both |
Any calculator with an Ans key – most modern scientific calculators have this |
Summary statistics |
Both |
Most scientific and graphical calculators produce summary statistics for lists of data. Check whether it is also possible to enter frequencies as well as raw data. |
Probabilities for standard statistical distributions |
Both |
Modern graphical calculators have this feature; so do some scientific calculators. The Casio fx-991ES plus has standard N(0, 1) probabilities. The Texas TI-30X pro has general Normal probabilities and cumulative binomial probabilities. |
Calculations with matrices up to 3 x 3 |
Further Mathematics |
Modern graphical calculators have this feature; so do some scientific calculators. The Casio fx-991ES plus and the Texas TI-30X pro both have this feature. |
It is important to regularly review past learning; this will make final revision easier and also help to prepare students for questions which link different areas of mathematics. Leading up to the examination, practice papers will be useful. It is likely that exam boards will produce practice papers for their specifications.
We have produced a document that highlights the changes to the content for AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics for first teaching from September 2017:
Changes to content
Schools and Colleges can submit an online request to register with the Further Mathematics Support Programme. It is free to do so and there are many benefits.
To find out about the FMSP in your area please select a region from the map below: