What content is covered in A Level Maths?

If you take A Level Mathematics, you will learn how to use data analysis, interpretation, and logic to find solutions to problems.

Maths goes beyond simple numerical calculations. It involves a broader scope of concepts, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and vectors. A Level Maths allows you to study fundamental mathematical principles (known as ‘Pure Maths‘) and apply these ideas to real-world contexts (known as ‘Applied Maths‘).

Within applied maths, you may study topics such as mechanics and statistics. Mechanics examines forces, motion, and the behaviour of objects in the context of classical physics. Statistics deals with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data to make informed decisions and draw meaningful conclusions from empirical observations.

By the end of your studies, you will have developed the skills to construct mathematical arguments and identify poor mathematical reasoning. You will also acquire a clear strategy for approaching complex problems and finding solutions.

A female secondary school teacher teaching algebra on a whiteboard.

How is A Level Maths assessed?

The exact structure of your Maths A Level course will depend on your exam board. Generally, it is entirely exam-based with 3× equally weighted written exams at the end of the course:

  • 2× exam papers assessing pure maths topics
  • 1× exam paper assessing applied maths topics

You’re typically allowed to use a calculator in all exams.

Is A Level Maths hard?

A Level Maths is certainly a step up from GCSE Maths. There is more content to learn and new concepts to get your head around. It also demands that you apply your knowledge in a more abstract manner than what is typically expected at GCSE level.

Like any other subject, the difficulty of A Level Maths will vary from student to student, depending on mathematical background, as well as the amount of time and effort devoted to studying and revision.

If you have a strong interest in maths and are willing to put in the necessary time and effort to understand the material, there’s no reason why you won’t succeed in A Level Maths. Most students successfully complete A Level Maths (the pass rate is around 96%) and many go on to pursue mathematics-related courses at university.

However, it’s essential to seek help and support if you encounter difficulties and to engage with your teachers to address any challenges you may face.

A calculator placed on top of an A Level Maths textbook. Students are typically allowed to use a calculator in A Level Maths exams.

What grades do you need to do A Level Maths?

Most sixth forms and colleges require students to have achieved a Grade 6 or higher in GCSE Maths to be able to take it at A Level. A strong foundation in GCSE Maths is crucial for success at A Level, so some institutions might have more stringent requirements.

Check with the specific school or college where you plan to study A Level Maths for the most up-to-date information on their admission criteria.

What skills will you develop when studying A Level Maths?

Studying A Level Maths will help you to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. It will enhance your logical thinking and teach you to break down challenging tasks into smaller, manageable steps.

A Level Maths also fosters quantitative literacy, the ability to interpret numerical information and apply it when solving real-world problems.

These skills extend beyond the classroom: they’re valuable in various professional fields and will help you navigate a range of situations, from handling your finances to planning and executing projects effectively.

Top tips for studying A Level Maths

  • Practice – To get better at maths, you need to practise, practise, practise! Use the questions supplied in your textbooks and the past papers available online. See each question as an opportunity to improve your maths skills!
  • Familiarise yourself with the formula booklet – Know which formulae and equations you’re expected to remember so you can streamline your revision accordingly. There’s no point memorising things you’ll be given in the exam. Make sure you know the formula booklet inside out. What do the different symbols and terminology mean? Where can you find the equations for each topic? This will save you precious exam time.
  • Strategise – A Level Maths is less about rote memorisation than it is about understanding and applying mathematical methods. This can make learning through traditional methods (flashcards, mind maps, etc.) difficult. Create an exam-friendly strategy for approaching complex problems. You could also write out the processes for solving different mathematical problems and memorise them (but ensure you understand them and can apply them to unfamiliar situations).
  • Look at the specification – This is the list of everything the exam board requires you to know and can test you on in the exam. When revising, check over this regularly to track your progress.

Where can A Level Maths lead you?

A Level Maths provides an important foundation for studying maths, medicine, science, and engineering subjects at university.

Employers highly desire mathematical skills. Those with a mathematics background often embark on careers in:

  • Accounting and finance
  • Actuarial science
  • Consultancy
  • Healthcare
  • Management
  • Programming

If you want to work in a STEM field, A Level Maths should be a priority. Jobs within STEM fields often require strong maths qualifications.

Taking A Level Maths could lead to a career in Computer Programming.

What subjects go well with A Level Maths?

A Level Maths goes well with a variety of subjects, as its analytical and problem-solving skills are valuable in many fields.

Maths is most commonly combined with A Level Sciences, such as physics and chemistry, due to the overlap in mathematical principles and problem-solving skills. Economics is also a natural complement to A Level Maths, as both subjects involve quantitative analysis and modelling.

For students seeking a deeper mathematical understanding, A Level Further Mathematics might be a good choice. This offers a more comprehensive and rigorous maths education, ideal for students who are thinking about pursuing maths (or a related subject) at university.

You may alternatively decide to take maths alongside a humanities subject. The transferable skills you’ll develop will enhance your ability to solve complex real-world problems.

What if I want to enhance my Maths skills without pursuing A Level Maths?

If you’re taking another A Level with some mathematical content, such as Biology or Chemistry, you may need to study some maths beyond GCSE. What should you do if you can’t or don’t want to commit to the whole Maths A Level?

You could choose to take Maths to AS Level. This one-year course covers the content of the first year of Maths A Level. You could sit the exam papers in the summer of Year 12, or wait until Year 13 and sit it alongside your other A Levels.

Your school may also offer the opportunity to study for a Free-Standing Mathematics Qualification (FSMQ). This is a supplementary course taken in tandem with your other A Levels and designed to develop your mathematical skills. It introduces you to the topics taught at A Level, but doesn’t demand the same amount of time or expertise.