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Questions causing students most trouble in GCSE maths exams: evidence from exam boards


Created on 19 September 2018 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 19 September 2018 by ncetm_administrator

In a new NCETM podcast, the three main exam boards in England give their verdict on how students performed in last summer’s GCSE maths papers—the second year that Year 11 students sat the new, harder exam.

All three awarding bodies, AQA, Edexcel and OCR, found evidence that, overall, students had been better prepared than in the previous year.

But all three also identified reasoning and problem-solving as areas where large numbers of Year 11s still lack confidence.  

  • ‘Within reasoning, it’s the “show that...” questions that continually seem to be giving students more of a headache.’ Neil Ogden, OCR.
  • ‘The crux of these problem-solving questions is that students should be able to take a first step and see if that gives them more information towards a secure second step.’ Graham Cumming, Edexcel.
  • ‘Proportional reasoning is key to algebra, trigonometry, similarity, number work and anything to do with rates. It absolutely pervades the whole of mathematics at this level. The students who really understand and can work deeply with multiplicative reasoning will be successful at GCSE’ Andrew Taylor, AQA.

Teachers gave their views on how their students did in the regular Tuesday evening #mathscpdchat Twitter discussion on 18 September 2018. Read a summary of the discussion.


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