Hints and tips - 7 minute read
Steven Walker, Maths Subject Advisor
The pandemic has made teaching and learning more challenging than ever. It is expected that this will impact GCSE students moving to their A Level courses.
Even before the pandemic, students and teachers referred to the ‘jump’ from GCSE to A Level Maths as demanding and challenging.
This blog suggests some useful resources to support your students’ transition into their A Level course.
Though A Level Maths students need to be confident with the majority of GCSE content, at the start of the course the focus will be on developing fluent algebra skills. This can be challenging for some students under normal circumstances but may be especially difficult for those who have missed learning opportunities due to the pandemic.
Our bridging guide reviews this algebra content from GCSE, and also includes useful trigonometry and graphing material that will help students to progress.
There’s a selection of revision sheets from the CUP Elevate series on our website to help students recover the skills they learnt at GCSE ahead of starting their A Level studies. These short exercises will give your students some initial practice and can be used to help you identify any areas that might need further support before the new course.
Even though Year 11 exams have been cancelled, students can use our GCSE extra support material to revise topics and develop their exam skills ready for Year 12. Our A Level candidate exam hints (Maths A – H240, Maths B (MEI) – H640) will give them an idea of how they will be examined at the end of the course.
The reformed Maths A Level includes an expectation that students will use appropriate technology throughout their studies.
Calculators are the only technology permitted in the examination room. Support material from both Casio and Texas Instruments is available to help students take best advantage of the available functions on their model of calculator.
Students would be at an advantage at the start of their A Level course if they could confidently use their calculator on the following GCSE (9–1) Mathematics – J560 Check In Tests:
Spreadsheets and graphing technology, such as Geogebra and Desmos, can be used for the following:
Students would benefit from gaining some confidence with these software before starting the course.
The statistics strand of A Level Maths includes the requirement to investigate a real Large Data Set (LDS). There is an expectation that students will be familiar with the context of the data, be able to interpret the results obtained in exam questions and understand the limitations of any conclusions drawn from these results in the context of the source of the data.
A good preparation for starting year 12 would be to investigate different features of the LDS using GCSE techniques and spreadsheet graphing technology. Students starting Maths A in September 2021 will use Maths A LDS, those starting Maths B (MEI) in September 2021 will use Maths B LDS_5.
Delivery guides are available for each section of the A Level Maths specification (Maths A – H240, Maths B (MEI) – H640).
A range of video tutorial presentations can be found on YouTube, of varying degrees of quality and accuracy. Sites such as CAIE, Khan academy, Maths made easy and Revision maths are generally targeted at the correct level and cover the majority of content.
It’s worth noting here that candidates are never penalised for using alternative or more advanced techniques, unless the wording of the question specifically asks for a certain technique to be used. Puzzles and background reading articles can be found on Nrich, Underground Maths, RISP, MSV, TES, Quanta, Plus and many more.
Share ideas below for students to keep their mathematical skills primed until September.
If you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Maths. You can also sign up for email updates to receive information about resources and support.
Steven joined OCR in 2014 during the major qualification reform period and now primarily focuses on supporting the Level 3 maths qualifications. Steven originally studied engineering before completing a PGCE in secondary mathematics. He began his teaching career with VSO in Malawi and has taught maths in both the UK and overseas. He is currently balancing his ‘work from home’ commitments with supporting his daughter with her year one lessons.