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Maths GCSE changes: Why studying now may be your best option.


Maths GCSE Changes: Why studying now may be your best option.

Oxford Open Learning has now prepared a new course which has been designed to match the requirements of the new Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) 8300, Linear Specification Maths GCSE examined for the first time in 2017.

This includes quite a bit of new content and a new grading system. The same new content is required by the new specifications set by all the exam boards.

The new (2017) exams will be significantly more difficult, at both Foundation and Higher level. It
may be harder to achieve the grade you need under the new grading system.

The key message here is that if you wish to complete a GCSE in Maths in the near future then we strongly advise you apply by the 13th November for the 2016 examinations!

1. What new content is there?

The following may be a fair summary of the changes:

1. All the old content is still there. Everything that was in the 2016 exams will be relevant for 2017
exams

2. The vast majority of changes are in the movement of topics that used to be Higher Tier (only) to the Foundation Tier, making the Foundation Tier exams considerably more challenging.

3. The completely new content is largely restricted to the Higher Tier examinations.

4. All areas of mathematics are affected but the area that is affected most is Algebra.

As a result of these points (especially point 2), most of the new content in OOL’s new course is to be found in the Higher Tier section of the course, i.e. the second half. But a large number of topics have been brought forward from the Higher Course to the Foundation Course.

2. The new grading system

You should be aware that your GCSE result will be given not as a letter (e.g. an A or a D grade) but as a number (e.g. 2 or 8) and the higher the number the better. Grade 9 is best of all.

There are still two levels of difficulty, ‘or tiers of assessment’: Foundation and Higher. The Higher tier 8300H exams are for students who hope to achieve grades 4-9; the 8300F Foundation tier is for grades 1-5.

Candidates who fail to achieve a grade 4 on the Higher tier or grade 1 on the Foundation tier will be reported as U (unclassified).

3. What is the structure of the new AQA 8300 “Linear” Specification?

Students following the AQA 8300 syllabus take three written exam papers. There is a choice between Foundation tier (8300F) and Higher tier (8300H) papers. It is not necessary to make a decision about which tier is right for you at the outset as that can come later with your tutor’s advice.

Details are given here for the AQA Foundation and Higher tiers. The exam papers are the same length, irrespective of the tier you are entering for, but the Higher papers include harder questions and the balance between different skills is slightly different (e.g. there is likely to be a little more algebra).

Paper 1: non-calculator
Content from any part of the specification may be assessed.

  • written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 80 marks
  • non-calculator
  • 33 % of the GCSE

A mix of question styles, from short, single-mark questions to multi-step problems. The mathematical demand increases as a student progresses through the paper.

Paper 2: calculator
Content from any part of the specification may be assessed.

  • written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 80 marks
  • calculator allowed
  • 33 % of the GCSE

A mix of question styles, from short, single-mark questions to multi-step problems. The mathematical demand increases as a student progresses through the paper.

Paper 3: calculator
Content from any part of the specification may be assessed.

  • written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 80 marks
  • calculator allowed
  • 33 % of the GCSE

A mix of question styles, from short, single-mark questions to multi-step problems. The mathematical demand increases as a student progresses through the paper.

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