Steven Walker, Maths Subject Advisor
The introduction of fixed content during the A Level reform back in 2017 means there’s a good range of sources for teaching resources and practice exercises that could be used by teachers regardless of the actual specification being studied. Teachers turn to the exam board for exam style questions and papers that reflect what their students will face in the summer at the end of the course.
With two accredited A Level Maths specifications, OCR can offer twice the quantity of past paper questions, sat by candidates under exam conditions, marked to A Level standard and discussed in examiner reports and candidate exemplar documents. There are also twice the practice paper questions, twice the initial sample assessment material and twice the alternative paper questions available.
All the resources mentioned in this blog are available on Teach Cambridge, our secure platform for teachers.
Both specifications were accredited against the same Department of Education criteria for AS/A Level Mathematics. There were separate teams working on the individual specifications, but we worked together on many issues, especially the approach taken on command words and the use of technology. Whilst the structure of the exam papers is different, individual questions are similar in style and the majority of questions from either specification could be used with your students. See the Differences between Mathematics specifications A and B document for where the specifications do differ.
These have been sat by candidates under exam conditions. The mark schemes may be tweaked based on a sample of scripts at the standardisation meeting, and even sometimes mid-way through marking if the mark scheme appears to be unfairly penalising candidates (with any previously marked scripts checked of course).
Examiner reports are produced (unless the cohort size is too small to highlight common outcomes) for results day. A candidate exemplar document is also produced and is made available later in the year.
Candidate exemplars for 2023 are now available.
Students have access to all past papers, except the latest 2023 series, via the student past paper finder.
These are based on the corresponding live past paper, with slight edits to provide a fresh challenge. The intention is that teachers can use the alternative papers as a follow up once the original version has been sat, marked, and reviewed in class.
Alternative papers for the 2023 exam series are now available.
These were drafted during the accreditation process and published once the qualification was accredited. The questions, level of demand and structure reflect the live papers. However, the mark schemes have not had the benefit of a “sense check” against actual candidate scripts, so lack some of the extra guidance and alternative solutions that are added during the standardisation meeting.
There are four sets of practice papers for A Level Maths available.
There is also an AS set and an A Level set of practice tests that have been made using legacy questions collated into the exam style of the reformed qualifications.
These have been compiled using ExamBuilder and are 50-mark tests focused on aspects of Pure, Mechanics or Statistics content. These are made of a mix of questions from both legacy and reformed specifications. Questions are edited, if necessary, and examiners’ report comments added to the mark scheme if applicable.
Keep an eye out for new progress tests currently with developers and due to be published around the Easter period.
These are ten question tests written for each section of the specification. These are designed for use after teaching the A Level content, ensuring a revision of the AS material alongside the new A Level only material.
Join us at our A Level Maths Teachers’ Spring Network webinar on 8 February 2024 at 4–5.30pm to discuss, amongst other issues, proposals for new support resources. Also, look out for our full programme of professional development webinars for 2023/24.
If you have any questions, you can email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Maths. You can also sign up for subject updates to receive the latest maths news, updates and resources.
Steven originally studied engineering before completing a PGCE in secondary mathematics. He has taught secondary maths in England and overseas. Steven joined OCR in 2014 and worked on the redevelopment of OCR’s A Level Mathematics suite of qualifications. Away from the office he enjoys cooking and travel.