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

In the AS year, you will study three modules. In Core Maths 1 (C1), you will revisit key algebraic topics first met at GCSE. You will then be introduced to calculus. Core Maths 2 (C2) explores the applications of calculus. The module also covers trigonometry, binomial series and the factor and remainder theorems. Exponentials and logarithms are introduced together with their uses. Finally, in Statistics 1 (S1), you will be primarily concerned with the analysis and interpretation of data and the mathematics of chance. Methods of data display familiar from GCSE are broadened to include new concepts like histograms and more sophisticated data summary measures such as standard deviation. You will also look at conditional probability, the concepts of independent and mutually exclusive events and the concept of a normal distribution.

Upper sixth

In the A2 year, you will study three more modules. Mechanics 1 (M1) is the study of forces and motion. Mechanics has far reaching implications in explaining the world around us. From the notion of a spanner loosening a nut to analysing the motion of a simple pulley system and to far larger systems such as the orbit of our planet around the sun the principles of mechanics are everywhere! Although this unit has much in common with physics, no prior knowledge is necessary. Core Maths 3 (C3) explores functions, trigonometry and differentiation first met at AS in much greater depth. There is also a short section on numerical methods that introduces new techniques to solve equations that cannot be solved analytically. Finally, Core Maths 4 (C4) revisits some of the ideas from C2 including the trapezium rule and binomial series. This unit focuses mainly on calculus and explores the many techniques of integration in considerable depth.

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?

The course is assessed entirely by written examinations. For the AS, you will have three exams on papers C1, C2 and S1. Each paper is worth a third of the AS and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes. For the A2, you will likewise have three papers on M1, C3 and C4. Each paper is worth a third of the A2 and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes. The A level is therefore constituted by and graded by performance on all six papers.

Reading

Edexcel AS and A Level Modular Mathematics: Core Mathematics 1
By K. Pledger
Published by Heinemann, ISBN 978-0435519100

Edexcel AS and A Level Modular Mathematics: Core Mathematics 2
By K. Pledger
Published by Heinemann, ISBN 978-0435519117

Edexcel AS and A Level Modular Mathematics: Core Mathematics 3
By K. Pledger
Published by Heinemann, ISBN 978-0435519162

Edexcel AS and A Level Modular Mathematics: Core Mathematics 4
By K. Pledger
Published by Heinemann, ISBN 978-0435519124

Edexcel AS and A Level Modular Mathematics: Statistics 1
By K. Pledger
Published by Heinemann, ISBN 978-0435519124

Edexcel AS and A Level Modular Mathematics: Mechanics 1
By S. Hooker
Published by Heinemann, ISBN 978-043551916

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Pearson-Edexcel 8372, A2: Pearson-Edexcel 9372 (legacy)

 

Mike Danzelman
Head of Department