Maths and further Maths
At a glance – the CCSS approach
Maths can be intriguing, challenging, puzzling and baffling, but also very satisfying and enjoyable. It is quite different from other subjects but it is highly valued by universities and employers. Arguably it is the most versatile subject and unquestionably it is the subject the most in demand as a prerequisite for degree courses. The one year course can be for either maths or maths and further maths. For all one year courses a combination of raw ability and hard work is required to complete the same amount of work as a normal A Level in half the time. The majority of the students who are suitable for a one year course will have studied a reasonable amount of maths to A-level standard in some way previously, to allow sufficient acceleration of teaching in the earlier units. Needless to say a one year course is demanding enough, but a one year course of further maths is not for the faint hearted!
Exam Board: AQA
The requirement for an AS qualification is three units, two of which are Pure maths and the other from the applied options – Mechanics, Statistics or Decision maths.
The Pure maths extends the material that has been studied in GCSE, so that the work in the first term or so will include algebra, trigonometry, circles, graphs and other topics which should be familiar to most students.
Students who like the idea of bringing maths into physical situations may find the Mechanics module suitable for their third unit. It would be the natural choice for someone who is studying the sciences but it is also successfully taken by students from very different areas.
Others who are studying subjects which involve the collection and analysis of data – medics, geographers, psychologists, etc generally take the Statistics module to complete their AS. This includes the study of probability in various situations and the use of mathematical models to predict future behaviour.
An increasingly popular option is Decision maths which looks at systematic ways of solving practical problems – finding the shortest route between a number of cities or finding the most efficient way of packing freight containers, for example. This is a relatively new branch of maths, being linked very closely with the use of computers, and many students find the applications quite refreshing.
Experience has shown that in order to enjoy the course students generally need to have achieved a grade B or higher at GCSE (or the equivalent). The nature of the subject means that one thing builds on another and unless the foundations are secure – algebra is particularly important – the work becomes increasingly frustrating. There have naturally been exceptions to this rule and in practice the majority of students who show a degree of enthusiasm and willingness do well and complete the course with good grades. This results in a free-standing qualification equivalent to half of an ALevel.
The A2 Level
Most students who take the AS in Maths go on to the full A Level.
This second part of the course is more demanding than the AS portion but the level of skill has also risen – techniques are introduced which are an essential part of many university courses. Again the required units are two Pure modules and another applied module so that in all over the two years six units are taken. Students are free to choose either to continue studying their previous applied unit to a greater depth or take a different option.
Students who are going to take a strongly mathematically based subject at university might find it advantageous to take some additional units beyond the basic six required for A Level. This gives an AS Further Maths for three extra modules and an A Level Further Maths for six extra modules.
Maths combines well with many of the subjects that use mathematical ideas at this or degree level, e.g. geography, chemistry, economics and business studies. The skills involved can also complement some of the essay-based subjects which make it an excellent choice for a number of Arts-side students.
After A Level
Maths is essential for courses in Engineering and Physics and very useful for many science-based courses which deal with statistical analysis. It is also one of the subjects welcomed by Admissions Tutors for any subject requiring an ability to think logically.