A Level Mathematics

 

What is it about at sixth form level?

Mathematics can best be described as the formulation and application of both numerical and abstract concepts. This definition, however, barely scratches the surface of a subject that can easily be considered as an art, a language or a science. If you choose to pursue the subject to A level, you will build upon the knowledge you have gained at GCSE but, through the focus on pure mathematics, begin to develop a profound understanding and respect for its power and beauty. Nowhere is this more evident than in the differential and integral calculus developed by Newton and Leibniz in the 17th century. You will examine some of the many applications to which it is put today, such as calculating areas and volumes and models of exponential growth and decay in the natural world. In the mechanics module, you will look at how to create mathematical models of objects in equilibrium and those in motion. You will also consider the mathematics of statistics and probability.

Lower sixth

Much of the first year of the course builds the foundations of the subject, starting with familiar topics from GCSE such as indices, quadratic functions, trigonometry and coordinate geometry. Later the fundamentals of calculus are introduced together with some of its applications. The first year also covers some basic principles of applied mathematics. Mechanics examines the ideas of forces and motion and the applications of Newton’s Laws while statistics looks at
ways of analysing data and the concept of probability.

Upper sixth

The second year of the course builds on this knowledge by revisiting the pure mathematics topics in greater detail. Calculus is covered in considerable depth and the emphasis on extended problem solving that draws on a range of mathematical concepts. Various methods of proof are also met which can be used to answer some interesting questions such as why must there be
an infinite number of prime numbers. Both mechanics and statistics are explored in depth and consider more advanced techniques such statistical hypothesis testing.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Maths is a much-respected subject that develops numerical, logical and analytical thinking. It is a prerequisite for the study of maths and disciplines at university that require a high degree of numerical competency, such as Physics, Engineering and Economics. It is highly valued by employers across a wide range of jobs.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

An A or A* at (I)GCSE is required.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The course is assessed entirely by written examinations: one pure mathematics paper and one applied paper. Both papers are equally weighted and are 2 hours in duration.

A level

The course is assessed entirely by written examinations: two pure mathematics papers and
one applied paper. All papers are equally weighted and are 2 hours in duration. Progression to the second year of the course is determined by a satisfactory performance on an internally assessed exam at the end of the lower sixth.

Reading

Edexcel AS and A Level Pure Mathematics Year 1/AS Textbook + e-book
Published by Pearson, ISBN 978-1292183398

Edexcel AS and A Level Mathematics Statistics and Mechanics Year 1/AS Textbook + e-book
Published by Pearson, ISBN 978-1292183282

Edexcel A level Mathematics Pure Mathematics Year 2 Textbook + e-book
Published by Pearson, ISBN 978-1292183404

Edexcel A level Mathematics Statistics and Mechanics Year 2 Textbook + e-book
Published by Pearson, ISBN 978-1446944073

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Pearson-Edexcel 8MA0, A level: Pearson-Edexcel 9MA0

 

Mike Danzelman
Head of Department