What is GCSE Maths?
GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education (sometimes known as Key Stage 4). Although students can take GCSEs at any age, most students in England, Wales & Northern Ireland study for their GCSEs between the ages of 14 and 16, this corresponds to Years 10 & 11 in England & Wales. During GCSE Maths, students study Number, Algebra, Geometry, Measure, Statistics & Probability.
2013/2014 Exam Timetables
There are 5 examination boards in the UK able to award GCSE qualifications, the most popular of which are Edexcel and AQA. Edexcel and AQA offer a linear and a modular syllabus and students can enter examinations at foundation or higher level. Schools tend to choose different exam boards for different subjects but it is possible to register at two different exam boards for one subject. For example, in Maths, if a student finds that following a modular syllabus with AQA is not working for them they can register to take the linear exam with Edexcel.
Modular versus Linear
Students following a linear maths syllabus will study topics in Number, Algebra, Geometry, Measure, Statistics & Probability over two academic years and will sit two exams at the end of the second year: one calculator and one non-calculator.
Students following a modular syllabus learn GCSE Maths in units and are examined at the end of each unit. Edexcel and AQA offer a modular syllabus with 3 units:
Edexcel – Unit 1: Statistics & Probability, Units 2 & 3: Number, Algebra & Geometry
AQA – Unit 1: Statistics & Number, Unit 2: Number & Algebra, Unit 3: Geometry & Algebra
Tiers & Grades
Due to the difficulty of the papers, students entering the Foundation tier paper are capable of achieving grades C, D, E, F or G. Students entering the Higher tier paper can achieve A*, A, B, C or D. Where students fail to meet the requirements to obtain a grade for their respective tier they have entered they will be given a U (Ungraded).
These are the Edexcel and AQA specifications (syllabus) for the 2014 exams:
2012 GCSE Reforms
Maths GCSEs are transitioning from modular to linear. Syllabuses that are currently modular will still be unitised but examinations will take place in one session at the end of the 2 year course. March examinations are no longer available (since March 2013) but November examinations are still available. Linear syllabuses remain unchanged.