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Is the New Maths GCSE Significantly Harder?

becster 06 March 2016 15:38


I must first apologise for being somewhat behind the times with this. I taught maths in schools and sixth forms for ten years but have been out of the system for a few years now due to taking a break for babies.

I'm looking into returning at some point and have been asked about doing some tutoring in the meantime.

I have been looking at past papers and specimen papers for GCSE, specifically AQA, Foundation.

In my view the Specimen papers are significantly harder, containing many topics that I would have thought might previously have been higher tier and, unless I'm missing something, topics on the non-calculator paper which seem incredibly difficuly WITHOUT a calculator.

I would love to hear from those of you who have remained in schools over this time please: 

* are the specimen papers likely to be much harder than the actual papers? (I'm sure I remember this being true in previous cases)

* is the new GCSE specification really that much harder?

* if so, how are people helping students to learn the extra topics, to make the extra progress needed?

Many thanks for your help.

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HeatherNorth 06 March 2016 17:52

Hi there becster - went on a course the other week - session run by Graham Commings from Edexcel.  By it's nature the new GCSE will be harder - there is more content to be taught to foundation students and whilst in the first year a grade 4 will be seen as a 'good' grade for students - the government will be measuring schools 'grade 5 +' achievements.  There will be more higher content being tested in the final paper to allow the spread of grades being awarded.  Graham also said that the GCSE actual papers are likely to be more difficult than the current examples.  Another changes is that all students will be expected to remember all formula as none will be printed on the paper as they are now.  Suggest you look at the specifications - the AQA info is set out clearly showing the content at different levels.

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becster 07 March 2016 07:39

Thank you HeatherNorth, that's really helpful and informative. I will indeed look at the specifications.


I wonder if teachers' views are positive or negative about these changes?


Many thanks for your help.

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Name withheld 05 May 2017 04:21
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