01 December 2017
The three main English exam boards have all identified ratio, reasoning and algebra as areas which teachers could profitably prioritise, based on the performance of Year 11 students in last summer’s first sitting of the new maths GCSE.
The conclusions were drawn in an NCETM podcast just released, during which representatives from AQA, Edexcel and OCR discuss broad themes emerging from the marking of exams taken by around 590 000 English 16-year-olds in summer 2017 - the first sitting of the new, harder, maths GCSE.
Ratio as a topic is now particularly important, they agreed, because it features in a larger proportion of questions, across the three papers, than in the old GCSE exam.
In general, students last year also struggled to do well on questions demanding the explicit demonstration of reasoning, in particular when questions started with the phrase ‘Show that…’
There was also evidence that the more demanding questions involving algebra were causing difficulties for many students, at both tiers of entry.
However, all three exam boards agreed that, based on the marks accumulated by students, the vast majority of decisions of tier entry taken by teachers last summer were justified. In other words, the number of students entered for the Higher paper who failed to get a Grade 4 or above was very small, as was the number of students entered for the Foundation paper, whose marks suggested they may have been capable of getting a higher grade on the Higher paper.
All NCETM podcasts are available for download, including one where teachers discuss the GCSE grades that should entitle students to start an A level maths course.