Start of Term Guide to the New Maths A Level
To research the new Maths A Level, I did a lot of googling. I found many schemes of work and several board specific resources on each of the exam board websites. What I was really looking for was practical perspective on the changes compared with the old specification, there is very little out there that takes an bird’s eye view to the changes and how they will affect our day to day.
So I did specimen papers from the different exam boards, read the specification word to word and went to any CPD event or seminar that was discussing the new A Level. I was on the hunt for pinpointing changes and finding answers to the question “What’s actually new?”
Guides for Planning:
New term, new A Level : How will my lessons change
This article is for those who, like me, thought that not much would need to change this year. I had my head in the sand a little before I started my research. I discuss the ‘Familiarity trap’ and how to avoid it from the start of term. Read more…
Overarching Themes - A review (with examples)
I was most interested in how the exam questions would change. Certain topics have been examined in predictable ways for years and every resource we used has been equally predictable. I did the specimen papers of each exam board to find exactly what’s been shaken up, see examples linked with the overarching themes. Read more...
A Checklist for Every Topic in the New Maths A Level
This is a topic level analysis. I explore the new expectations in the specification and how we can incorporate them in teaching each topic.
can they be flexible?
can they cope with unfamiliarity?
can they work within context?
Stay ahead of the calculator trap
Calculators are in again, and that makes some silly mistakes less likely (hopefully). From doing the specimen questions, it became clear how there are questions set to deliberately test students who overly rely on these digital comfort blankets. We need to teach students restraint so they can navigate the traps set in the new style of questions. See examples here.
Problem Solving Workshops - creating the right culture
I wrote up my notes from a problem solving workshop I attended here. A lot of good ideas for your class, and a series of events I strongly recommend if you can make it down to the Maths Forums at the Kings College Maths school. Read about these best practices here...
Guides for Revision
Look beyond just old specification papers for exam style questions. As well as the all new MarkIt questions we’ve written in line with the new spec, these Question Banks can challenge your students in a way that echoes the how the exams are changing:
MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test) papers - have a look
You will find great multiple choice questions that take students out of the ‘familiarity trap’. The questions are designed to test mathematical argument and deduction, strengthening the muscles for when they need to construct proofs.
TMUA (Test of Mathematics for University Admission) papers - I wrote about these here
These do a great job at mixing several topics in one question in ways that just cannot be predicted until go dive in. Perfect for problem solving without any scaffolding.
AEA (Advanced Extension Award) papers - you can find some Edexcel ones here.
Towards the end of these past papers, you will find some real gems that mix up different topics and test students in a ways that stops them from looking for familiarity in questions.
STEP (Sixth Term Examination Paper) lots of the papers can be found here
The new A Level was written to produce more able Mathematical minds, in line with expectations at university. The STEP papers are designed to test this gap in the way that students apply what they learn in lessons.
IYGB (for the old specifications) papers you can find them here
These papers took the old specification to a new level of challenge. Wordy questions with less scaffolding and mixing of topics, especially in the papers that are later in the series are a great resource to tap into.