What is Mathematics?
It’s the last 5 minutes of the match and Eric Dier is about to take a free kick that could take England to the World Cup finals. The crowd is crying out for him to score. What speed and direction does he need to kick the ball?
The ice cap at the North Pole is melting. When warmer climes reach further north, the ice covering the frozen wastes of Russia will recede to expose peat that will release a massive amount of CO2. Is this global warming?
To reduce packaging costs, what size should 400g cylindrical tins of baked beans be to minimise the amount of steel used? What speed does a sky diver reach before pulling her parachute?
If you invest £1000 every year into a savings account paying 3% interest per annum, how much money will be in the account after 5 years, and how long will it take for you to save £20,000?
Maths will allow you to answer these and many other questions!
What Mathematics will I do?
The new linear A-level Maths course is made up of two-thirds Pure Maths, one-sixth Mechanics and one-sixth Statistics. All the content is compulsory, i.e. there are no options.
In Pure Maths you extend your skills in algebra, trigonometry and geometry from GCSE and you will be introduced to new areas of Maths such as calculus, sequences and series, and exponentials. Calculus will help you work out the most efficient size of tin cans and how fast sky divers reach. Sequences and series will allow you to work out the sum of an infinite number of numbers and work out your savings account balance or your mortgage payments. And exponentials will enable you to make predictions for the world’s population in 2050. Algebra is the basis of almost all A-level Maths, building on the skills you learn at GCSE (such as quadratics and simultaneous equations), and subsequently forms the biggest part of the course.
Statistics will give you the skills to analyse the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere using the Normal Distribution to determine if there is a significant increase that could contribute to global warming. You will be able to determine whether the brain mass of mammals has a correlation with body size and how strong the correlation is. Using measures of spread you will be able to identify the differences in the birth and death rates of less economically developed countries to target money that will improve the economy and health of the population.
In Mechanics you will learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion, including forces, moments, projectiles and friction. Newton’s Laws are used to work out the acceleration of a car pulling a caravan up a hill. The moment of a force is the turning effect of that force, and is used when calculating where two kids, of different weights, need to sit to balance a see-saw. When a ball is kicked, projectile motion is used to calculate its path. And the Police use knowledge of friction and the length of skid marks to work out whether a car, involved in a crash, was speeding at the time of the accident.
What’s different about the new linear A-level Mathematics?
In the new A-level Maths there is a bigger emphasis on problem solving, modelling and reasoning. Modelling in mathematics is about starting with a real life situation, making assumptions to simplify and deciding which features are important and which are not. This allows mathematics to be used to provide information about the real situation. You will also need to work with large data sets, using spreadsheets to help you interpret the data. And, because the course is linear, all the exams are at the end of the 2nd year.
I’ve heard about Further Maths. What is this?
If you are a good Mathematician and likely to get a grade 7, or preferably 8 or 9, at GCSE plus a range of other good grades, you should consider taking A-level Mathematics and Further Maths. See Further Mathematics for more information.
Mathematics is highly valued in a very wide range of careers and professions as it provides good evidence of the ability to think clearly and logically. It is accepted almost everywhere as a good entry qualification for practically every subject at degree level. It is often a requirement for anyone interested in Physics, Engineering, Statistics, Computing, Economics and other scientific and business related careers.
If you are considering studying Mathematics, Engineering or Physics at university, you should also consider studying Further Maths, which would add extra depth and breadth to your understanding in preparation for these degree courses. Studying Further Mathematics is seen as an indication of high academic aptitude which is often essential when making applications to certain courses and universities. Please see the A-level Further Maths subject leaflet to find out more.
Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C.
For A-level Maths you must have at least a Grade 6 (preferably a 7 or above) in GCSE Maths. In addition, you need to enjoy Maths – especially algebra!
If you are expecting a grade 7 or above, you could consider taking A-level Maths and Further Maths.
If you would like to use your mathematical skills in a more practical way to solve problems in a real-world context, you could consider studying the Level 3 Certificate in Mathematical Studies (Core Maths) – please see the separate subject leaflet to find out more.
Students will be expected to provide their own stationery and textbooks. All students must also have a scientific calculator with natural display that can calculate Binomial & Normal probabilities. The best option will be the Casio FX-991EX (around £20), but it isn’t available in the UK yet. Some students also buy a graphics calculator, such as the Casio FX-9750GII (around £60). In addition, all students must purchase the A-level Maths Student Course Materials via the college’s Online Store. This will be about £5 and includes interactive ICT resources and exercise books to write your notes in.
If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.
- Sixth Form Course: