# AS and A Level Maths FAQs

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Below are the most frequently asked questions from teachers about the new AS and A Level Maths and Further Maths qualifications. If you have a question that you cannot find the answer to here, please email us at maths@ocr.org.uk, tweet us @OCR_Maths, or phone us on 01223 553998.

## What's changing?

### When can I first teach the new specifications?

The new specifications will be available for **first teaching from September 2017**.

AS levels in Maths and Further Maths will be assessed for the first time in **June 2018**.

To accommodate centres who offer a single year A Level course the first assessment of A Level Maths will be in **June 2018**.

A Levels in Further Maths will be assessed for the first time in **June 2019**.

### When does the legacy specification run out?

The final assessment series for the legacy mathematics specifications is **June 2018**, however, there is a **resit series in June 2019** in which all units and qualifications will be available.

If you finish a two year A Level Maths course in June 2018 then it will be allowable to then do the reformed Further Maths qualifications, however please note that the reformed A Level Maths will be available in June 2018 as well for those studying a one year course starting in September 2017.

### Does my AS Level grade form part of my A Level grade?

No, reformed A Levels are fully linear with terminal assessment, an AS Level qualification does not count towards a full A Level, and students may be asked questions on content in the A Level assessment that have been assessed at AS Level already.

### Will I be able to teach AS and A Level students together in year 12?

Yes. The AS content for Maths and Further Maths is a subset of the corresponding A Level content. The A Level students might need to delve a little deeper into some topic areas, but this can be done through differentiation by task or by ‘spiralling’ back through the content in year 13.

## Changes in the content

### Will the topics in Further Maths line up with teaching for Maths so that students can study the Maths and Further Maths in parallel?

Yes. Further Maths and Maths are designed so that they can be taught in parallel, though it needs some careful planning in places. The requirement from the DfE is that at least one pathway through Further Maths can be taught in parallel with Maths.

For OCR’s **Specification A** this is true for all pathways since the AS Further Maths units rely only on AS Maths content except in a few small instances.

For **Specification B** (MEI) this is true for nearly all pathways, the exception being pathways at A Level that include both the Further Pure with Technology and Extra Pure options, because neither of these is available at AS Level.

### We have several students who are towards the bottom end of the ability range. Will the new exams be accessible for them?

Yes. The new A Level is not the same as current A2 level of demand. The overall level of demand of A Level Maths must remain the same, so the new assessments are a carefully designed blend of questions that produce a similar level of demand to the combination of Core 1 to Core 4, plus Statistics 1 and Mechanics 1. Every paper has a gradient of demand from E grade to A grade, and starts with a few questions which are at E grade and relatively procedural.

We did a lot of modelling work creating linear assessments using the current assessment materials, and used the experience of assessors who currently work on linear qualifications both international and domestic.

### What does the AS/A Level Maths content look like?

The content of mathematics is fully prescribed and consists roughly of two-thirds pure maths, one-sixth statistics and one-sixth mechanics. Broadly speaking it is similar to the current C1-C4, M1 and S1, though there are differences.

### So what’s happened to Decision maths?

Decision maths is no longer part of A Level mathematics; however, students who take AS/A Level further mathematics can study an updated version of this content area.

In specification A the new option is called ‘Discrete Mathematics’, and in specification B it is called ‘Modelling with algorithms’. The different names reflect the different emphasis of the options. For more information refer to the specifications from the qualification pages below.

### What about the 'Large Data Set' and 'Use of Technology'?

There is now a requirement that all students studying AS/A Level Maths experience working with a large data set. A large data set will be provided as pre-release material for each of our specifications for use in lessons. Students will not have access to the data set in the exam, however questions will be set in the context of the data set and some related summary data, sample data or diagrams may be provided in the question paper. The intention is that these questions will provide an advantage to students who have spent time exploring the data. There is no requirement to use the Large Data Set for statistics in Further Maths and no assessment items will rely on that knowledge. You might like to use the LDS where appropriate in Further Maths statistics teaching as one example of real world data, but it is not a requirement.

There is also an expectation that students have used technology during their studies including spreadsheets, computer algebra systems (CAS) and dynamic geometry software, though this will not be assessed directly. In specification B (MEI) some questions may contain spreadsheet output which students will need to interpret.

A Level mathematics no longer has a formula book. Any formulae we are able to provide will be printed in the front of the question paper. We are no longer publishing statistical tables in A Level mathematics; students will require a calculator with the facility to produce these values.

See the specifications and Sample Assessment Materials for Maths for more details and for examples of questions.

### What about calculators?

Both of our specifications have some questions in which students are expected to demonstrate more of their working in order to be awarded marks, these questions are clearly signposted in both the question paper and the mark schemes. There are no non-calculator papers.

As now, **calculators must be compliant** with the JCQ's Instructions for Conducting Examinations. In addition, calculators should have:

- An iterative function
- The ability to compute summary statistics and access probabilities from the normal and binomial distribution
- The ability to compute the determinant of a 3x3 matrix (For Further Maths only).

There are scientific calculators currently on the market or coming soon that can do this, so graphical calculators are not required. There is no restriction on students using a graphical calculator, but they must not include Computer Algebra Software (CAS) and must comply with the JCQ's Instructions for Conducting Examinations. All of our Maths and Further Maths assessments can be done with one of the new scientific calculators, apart from Further Pure with Technology which requires either a sophisticated graphical calculator or a PC.

### What can students use their calculators for in the exam?

The rule for both specification suites is “If there is no particular instruction in a question about the use of a calculator then allowable calculators can be used for any function they can perform” and it is expected that students will use their calculator, where appropriate, for tasks such as solving quadratics, solving simultaneous equations, evaluating definite integrals, evaluating the gradient at a point and so on.

Both suites of qualifications will include some particular questions that must be answered without a calculator and clear working provided to demonstrate this, but this requirement will be clearly stated in each such question. For examples, please see the Sample Assessment Materials (SAMs).

Further mathematicians will be expected to use matrix functions and complex numbers on their calculator when appropriate.

### Is there any coursework?

Ofqual prohibited coursework (or any form of Non-Exam Assessment) in these qualifications following a consultation on assessment arrangements.

### How much of the new Further Maths is compulsory pure and how much is options?

For both of our specifications the AS Level in Further Maths consists of 1/3 pure and 2/3 options to allow for the greatest breadth of study as preparation for A Level or for Higher Education. For A Level Further Maths both specifications include the 50% Pure Core as required by the DfE. In both cases we have added in a simple treatment of the vector product because it is a vital tool for some of the techniques in the vectors part of the content, and because it is such an important concept across a wide range of disciplines in higher education.

The options available differ depending on which specification you choose. They include both pure and applied strands so that it is possible to study mostly pure maths (or in the case of H645 all Pure).

Read detailed information on the options available

The options were designed following detailed research into the needs of students in a wide range of numerate disciplines in Higher Education. You can find out more about this research via the Cambridge Assessment website.

## Grading

### Why was the 9–1 grade system not introduced in order to align with the new GCSEs?

GCSE grading changed to signal a change in the level of demand and sweeping changes made in some cases to content and style, and to allow for more fine grain awarding at the top end of the grade scale. No such sweeping change has been made at A Level so there is no need to change the grading scale.

### How will the grade boundaries work?

There are no UMS for the new qualifications. All students studying a particular specification will sit the same exams, so their raw marks can be compared directly and the grade boundaries will be the same for every student. Ofqual has not yet confirmed how the A* will be awarded, but any grade boundaries will be based on raw marks. More information on the award of the A* should be available during the 2016-17 academic year. See below for information about Further Maths grading which is more complicated.

### Will you be providing grade boundaries for your sample assessment/practice papers?

No, grade boundaries are only valid when set by analysing the results of a full entry cohort who have completed the course against their prior attainment.

### How does grading work for different pathways for AS and A Level Further Mathematics?

As with Mathematics qualifications we can no longer use UMS. Each combination of optional components will have its own set of raw mark grade boundaries, dependent on the level of demand of the individual papers and set following each series. Learners grades will be determined by comparing their raw mark total to the grade boundaries for their combination of units.

This means that two students who chose different optional components may have the same raw mark total, but a different overall grade, in some cases this may mean a student with a higher number of raw marks actually has a lower grade overall.

### Can my most able students still take extra units and gain Additional Further Maths qualifications?

We cannot award extra qualifications since Additional Further Maths is not allowed in the reformed system. However, we do allow for students to take extra optional components for both AS and A Level Further Maths if they wish to broaden their curriculum beyond the required number of components. If they do so then they will be awarded the best grade from all possible combinations of the units taken.

### If I decide to offer my students A Level maths from a particular specification, do I also need to offer the same specification at Further Mathematics?

For continuity of approach and style of assessment, as well as to guarantee that the assumed knowledge for Further Maths is based on the same interpretation of the Mathematics content.

Practically, each qualification is a separate entity and there are no restrictions on combinations. You can choose A Level in Maths using specification A and an A Level in Further Mathematics using specification B, or vice versa, if this is most appropriate for your students.

### Currently we have students who join us with an AS level in maths from a different awarding organisation and we have to fill out a transfer of credit form, will this still be necessary?

No, AS and A Level are completely decoupled, so only the A Level exams taken in the current series count towards a student's A Level grade. You may wish to check that students have covered the AS content in a way that is compatible with OCR's approach to assessment.

## Support and resources

### Where can I find resources?

OCR will be providing free resources to support specification A, many of which will be usable with specification B too, particularly for maths and the further pure core. These include Check In Quizzes (following the popular topic-based formative assessment tasks produced for GCSE), large data set resources, technology resources, topic exploration packs and lesson elements and mapping documents.

We will also be producing annotated versions of our Sample Assessment Material that explain some of the thinking behind the questions, point out some of the features of the exams and discuss the way we’ve put them together.

Resources are located on the individual webpages, just scroll down to the ‘Teaching and learning resources’ section at the bottom of the page. The first of our resources are now available to download.

MEI will be continuing their current provision through integralmaths.org which caters for both specifications.

### New OCR (MEI) A Levels

Find out more about the approach MEI is taking with the 2017 specifications.

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