Steven Walker, Maths Subject Advisor
This blog was originally published on 9 March 2021 and is republished with suggestions for some useful CPD events and resources to support your students’ transition into their A Level course. Note that some of the resources require a Teach Cambridge login.
Looking beyond the summer exam series and as you start planning for 2023/24 we have a Transition from KS4 to KS5 webinar. The session will take a look at common misconceptions students bring from GCSE, discuss the differences in question style between GCSE and A Level, and look at the opportunity to use technology to support teaching and learning.
Sign up for transition course, 29 June 2023, 4pm – 5pm
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 during 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. 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.
Another source of good revision questions is the withdrawn Foundations of Advanced Mathematics – 6989 qualification. This was a short multiple-choice exam designed to review and extend the GCSE content of arithmetic, algebra, graphs, trigonometry and statistics. In response to teacher feedback, we have made available a selection of topic-based online tests that could be used as a diagnostic tool before progressing to the AS/A Level content. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students can use our GCSE higher tier revision checklist 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:
The basic scientific calculators that students may have used for their GCSE will not be sufficient for A Level Maths. Students will need to decide whether to upgrade to a graphical display calculator, or to the more advanced scientific models (such as the TI 90X Pro or Casio fx991 CW). There is no inherent advantage to having a graphical calculator in the examination but using the same technology in class as in the exam will help build confidence and fluency.
Spreadsheets and graphing technology, such as Geogebra and Desmos, can be used for the following:
Students would benefit from gaining some confidence with this 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 2023 will use Maths A LDS, those starting Maths B (MEI) in September 2023 will use Maths B LDS 7.
Delivery guides are available on Teach Cambridge for each section of the A Level Maths specification.
A range of video tutorial presentations can be found on YouTube, of varying degrees of quality and accuracy. Sites such as 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 email@example.com, 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 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 has worked on the redevelopment of OCR’s Entry Level, GCSE (9-1), FSMQ and A Level Mathematics qualifications. He now focuses mainly on supporting OCR Level 3 qualifications at work whilst at home helping his daughter with her early introduction to mathematics in primary school.