My maths challenge was to sit a Maths GCSE exam in June 2011. My motivation was to learn as much as I could about the exam so that I could help my children when they take their exams in a few years time. One of the first things I discovered was that the Maths GCSE syllabus being taught from September 2010 had changed and that the first chance to sit the new syllabus exam would be in June 2012. This posed a dilemma, should I take the old exam so that I could meet the original target date or should I go for the new exam a year later? I didn’t take me long to decide. The whole reason for starting my maths challenge was to help my children. They would be taught the new syllabus so I must study that same syllabus. I resolved to use the extra time to study more thoroughly and to make this blog a useful learning resource for my family.

I was intrigued to find out more about the reasons for the change. The change to Maths GCSE is part of a drive to place more emphasis on functional skills. This means that students will be expected to demonstrate practical maths skills for use in everyday life. There will be more questions requiring problem solving skills and applied maths. So the change is more about a change the way questions are framed than the content of the syllabus. Indeed there will only be minor changes to the subject’s content.

These changes seemed to have been well received as they give teachers the opportunity to make lessons more interesting with real life applications. It certainly makes sense to me. The vast majority of students sitting Maths GCSE will not study Maths at A-level, let alone at university level. They are more likely to be engaged by applied maths using real life applications than pure maths. In addition they will find the problem solving skills useful in the real world.

There are three “Assessment Objectives” :-

1) Recall and use their knowledge of the prescribed content (45% to 55% weighting).

2) Select and apply mathematical methods in a range of contexts (25% to 35% weighting).

3) Interpret and analyse problems and generate strategies to solve them (15% to 25% weighting).

Now in plain English! Objective 1) Do you know the syllabus? Objectives 2) & 3) Can you use your maths knowledge in everyday life to solve problems?

Just a word of warning about presentation of answers. Up to 5% of the marks will be determined by the “Quality of Written Content” (QWC). This covers; using the appropriate form (e.g. formulas, equations, diagrams etc), clarity, spelling, punctuation and grammar.

What do you think of the new Maths GCSE 2010? Have I missed anything important? Please leave comments using the link below.

I found out that my daughter’s school use the AQA exam board. Its settled, I will be sitting the Maths GCSE 2010 with AQA in June 2012.

My textbook (AQA GCSE Mathematics for Higher Sets Student Book — GCSE Maths AQA 2010 Glyn Payne, et al.) is on its way to me. In the next blog I’ll let you know my first impressions of the task in front of me after I’ve had my first scan of all 688 pages!

What a great project! I’m looking forward to following this blog, I think it will be really interesting for me as a maths teacher.

Actually, the content hasn’t really changed for many years now (including the most recent change), but the style of assessment changes quite often — do coursework, do statistical coursework, do no coursework at all, do modules with the course divided up one way, do modules with the course divided up another way. It certainly keeps us on our toes.

I have to say I really like the new functional skills questions, using maths to solve problems is what the subject should be all about.

Good luck with the challenge!

Hi Lois– Thanks for your kind comments. I’m not sure what I’m getting into.. I just hope my maths brain will still work after 30+ years with no practice. It would be great if you could follow my progress and put me right if take a wrong turning.