Statistics in the new A Level - what we've learned

We recently attended the A Level Statistics Conference in Manchester. It was great to meet with Maths teachers from across the UK and discuss what we had been learning from creating exam-style questions for the new spec. There were two main revelations for us at the conference which we wanted to share, which will affect how we teach and prepare students for their summer exams. Here it is!

3 changes to make when teaching the new A Level Maths

My job at MarkIt is to create exam style questions from scratch that are completely tailored to the new specification. I have seen first hand how there is so much temptation to fall back on using harder questions from the legacy specification. Here are 3 ways to avoid being blindsided and preparing students for what’s new.

How to teach The Large Dataset - tips for teachers!

With the introduction of the large dataset this year, there is now additional knowledge students need in order to get the top marks in their summer exams! They will still need to know and understand the process behind statistical analysis and apply that to new data in the exam, but as of this September, they will also need to recall information about the large data set.

Start of Term Guide to the New Maths A Level

How to prepare when you don't know enough about what you're preparing for. We have summarised, in one clean list, all they key aspects of our research into the new A Level, with your lessons in mind. Read about where to find past papers that match, how to work with problem solving and where the hidden pitfalls lie in the new A Level Maths exams. 

' Would a sketch help? ' - the golden question to survive the new spec

With an increased emphasis on Problem Solving and Mathematical Argument, the new specification focuses on teaching students to strategise. Given a lot of information, an end goal, and little breakdown into simpler parts, they will need to unpack problems on their own. Crucially, it will be entirely on them to ask themselves : would a sketch help me here?

Finding questions fit for the new A Level: Part 1

Simply using legacy syllabus past papers will not be enough, they provide too much of a comfort zone! Questions will not so easily fall into topic specific boxes like a ‘quadratics question’ or a ‘Trig question’. Several topics will be tested within one question as a way to exercise the Problem Solving muscle. Read my take on alternative past papers that have been around for years!

New A Level Maths : how could quadratics have changed?!

This week I completed Specimen paper 1 of the Edexcel specification for the new A Level. It was a pleasant surprise to see changes in the way quadratics could be examined in the new specifications. I include the question I found and some interesting points of comparison with the old specification. 

A guide to choosing an exam board for the new A Level Maths qualification

There is a lot to consider when choosing an exam board. Why would you even consider changing? My meetings with teachers in recent weeks have resulted in questions being asked of my opinion on each board and which I would recommend. I was very interested to hear the way that they themselves were making comparisons and looking at the tradeoffs involved in picking one board over the other. I share my findings here.

New A level Maths: do we approve of calculators in every exam?

After going through the new A level Maths specification for Edexcel with a fine toothed comb  most changes are really positive. Students will be stretched and challenged in healthy ways, actually applying what are routine calculations to ‘wordy’ contexts. It looks like actual ‘on the spot’ thinking will be required -  just knowing the computational basics will not be enough. Based on my experience, I deeply believe that it will produce stronger mathematicians.  

The 5 perils of last minute revision and how to fix it today

Last minute revision activities are usually one or more of the following:

  • Working out what is most likely to come up from previous papers;
  • Testing yourself on key words;
  • Doing as many past papers as you physically have time for;
  • Checking in with friends to see how much revision they have done;
  • Writing out exam cards to take with you on the day;
  • Panicking or giving up!

'Oh you're a tutor? Do you have any advice?'

As soon as I tell people I am a tutor, I often get asked by a concerned parent in the vicinity if I have any advice. To start, I would ask about what subject, which level and what target grades we are looking at here but the reality is, it does not matter. Here's why...

How to choose the best online resources for your child

'Educate' originates from the greek word for Midwifery - just as a midwife would help 'draw out' a baby from a mother, education is intended to be the art of drawing out insights from someone.

Contrary to the origin of 'educate', we typically think of education as imparting or adding knowledge but should we be thinking instead of drawing knowledge or insights out of children as they discover the world for themselves? If they discover for themselves, retention is increased as they can understand 'why' something is so.