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Countdown To First A Level Exam (UK)

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Wednesday 22nd May 2024, 12:30:00 PM

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Monday 13th May 2024, 12:30:00 PM

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Thursday 16th May 2024, 12:30:00 PM

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A-Level

Past Papers


A Level Maths past papers are available for all exam boards - AQA  , OCR , OCR MEI , Cambridge CAIE and WJEC. There was a syllabus change in 2017 and all papers from 2018 are for the latest syllabus. The content covered in an A Level course is now similar across all the main UK exam boards AQA, Edexcel, OCR and OCR MEI.  All older legacy papers (pre-2017) are also available below.

 

Exam Boards And Difficulty Levels

The most common A Level exam boards in order of difficulty from least to greatest are as follows: AQA, Edexcel, OCR, OCR MEI and Cambridge.  

 

Edexcel is the most common exam board taken. AS Year 1 and A Level Year 2 each consist of Pure, Mechanics and Statistics.  AS has 2 papers (pure and statistics/mechanics) each lasting 2 hours and out of 80 marks.  A Level has 3 papers (pure 1, pure 2 and statistics/mechanics) each lasting 2 hours and out of 100 marks.  The Further AS and A Level Maths subjects consist of Core Pure 1 and 2 , FP1FP2FS1 , FS2 , FM1 , FM2 , D1 and D2AS Further students must take 2 papers, whereas A Level Further students must take 4 papers. For Edexcel Further Maths, most schools only offer Core Pure 1, Core Pure 2, FS1, FM1 and FM2. Only specialist schools offer FP1, FP2 and FS2. FP1 and FP2 offer topics such as groups and number theory which is taught at university. Decision maths is mainly for students who want to goand study computer science at university. 

 

Edexcel Exam Paper Setup

The paper setup for Edexcel AS and Edexcel A Level is fixed and as follows:    

Edexcel AS Level Year 1:

  • Paper 1 - Pure (2 hours, 80 marks)
  • Paper 2 - Statistics and Mechanics (2 hours, 80 marks)

Edexcel A Level Year 2:

  • Paper 1 - Pure 1 (2 hours, 100 marks)
  • Paper 2 - Pure 2 (2 hours, 100 marks)
  • Paper 3 - Statistics and Mechanics (2 hours, 100 marks)

Edexcel Further AS Level Year 1:

Further AS Level students must take Core Pure 1 for paper 1 and then have an option for their other subjects for paper 2.

  • Paper 1 - Core Pure 1 (1 hr 40 mins, 80 marks)
  • Paper 2 - Choose 1 of the following 10 options  (1 hr 40 mins, 80 marks)
    • FP1 AND FP2
    • FP1 AND FS1
    • FP1 AND FM1
    • FP1 AND D1
    • FS1 AND FM1
    • FS1 AND D1
    • FS1 AND FS2
    • FM1 AND D1
    • FM1 AND FM2
    • D1 AND D2

Note:  Most schools do not offer all modules for paper 2.  The most commonly offered modules are FP1, FS1 AND FM1.

Edexcel Further A Level Year 2:

Further A Level students must take Core Pure 1 and Core Pure 2 for papers 1 and 2 and then have an option for their other subjects for papers 3 and 4

  • Paper 1 - Core Pure 1 (1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)
  • Paper 2 - Core Pure 2 (1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)
  • Paper 3 - Choose 1 of the following 4 options  (1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)
    • FP1
    • FS1
    • FM1
    • D1
  • Paper 4 - Choose 1 of the following 7 options (1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)
    • FP2
    • FS1
    • FM1
    • D1
    • FS2
    • FM2
    • D2

All of the paper setup can be nicely summarised in a chart:

Edexcel

Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3

Paper 4

AS

Pure

(2 hrs, 80 marks)

Stats & Mechs

(2 hrs, 80 marks)

 

 

A Level

Pure 1

(2 hrs, 100 marks)

Pure 2

(2 hrs, 100 marks)

Stats & Mechs

(2 hrs, 100 marks)

 

AS Further

Core Pure

(1 hr 40 mins,

80 marks)

Choose 1 option out of:

FP1/FP2

FP1/FS1

FP1/FM1

FP1/D1

FS1/FM1

FS1/D1

FS1/FS2

FM1/D1

FM1/FM2

D1/D2

(1 hr 40 mins,

80 marks)

 

 

A Level Further

Core Pure 1

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

Core Pure 2

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of:

FP1

FS1

FM1

D1

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of:

FP2

FS1

FM1

D1

FS2

FM2

D2

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

 

 

AS Exams are taken at the end of  year 1 and A Level exams are taken at the end of year 2. The highest grade achievable is an A for any exam board at AS level.

 

Further Maths is like an add-on to the main maths A level and works slightly differently.   You won't be able to take Further Maths unless you are also taking A Level Maths, but it doesn’t matter whether sequentially or concurrently.  Obviously, you need A Levels maths to understand Further Maths, but schools tend to choose their preferred order of teaching the content and when the exams are taken.  For Further Maths students,  A Level Maths’ exams can be completed in the first or second year of study. Content-wise, some schools teach all of A Level in year 12 and Further Maths content in year 13, and some schools try to do both alongside each other over the 2 years. Exam-wise, some students sit A Level Maths in year 12 and then sit Further Maths in year 13, straight after.  Some sit all exams in the final year. 

 

As you can see form the table, there are no choices in Edexcel A Level Maths, but there are in Further Maths.  Also notice how there are some some disallowed options for Further Maths. There are 10 allowed combinations which are either:

  • 2 papers suffixed with 1 - for example FS1 and FS1 is allowed, but FP1 and FS2 is not 
  • 2 twin papers with the same prefix - for example FS1 and FS2 

Most schools do not offer all modules for papers 2-4 of Further Maths.  The most commonly offered modules are FM1 and FS and students usually do this option.  If a student prefers mechanics and the school offers it they should do FM1 and FM2.  Similarly if a student prefers statistics they should do FS1 and FS2.  D1 and D2 are good modules for students wanting to study computer science. FP1 and FP2 are rarely offered unfortunately (only at specialist schools), but are great modules for those wanting to get an exposure to the begining of university maths and inlcude topics such as groups and number theory.

 

There are 2 core pure textbooks with different topics (core book 1 is usually covered in year 1 and core book 2 is usually covered in for year 2) .  The papers Core Pure 1 and Core Pure 2 however do not correspond to the books meaning topics can tend to overlap across the two papers and one isn't really harder than the other paper.  This is expecially true with Core 1 content appearing in Core 2 papers.  Therefore one should revising the content for the papers separately, they should be revised collectively. 

 

Similary for regular A Level Maths there are 2 pure textbooks with different topics (pure year 1 and pure year 2).  The papers Pure 1 and Pure 2 also do not correspond to the books 1 and 2 and hence both papers contain everything learnt in pure and there is no splitting of content.  Topics can also be repeated across papers, so there is no narrowing down of what might not come up for the second paper once you've taken the first paper. 

 

Edexcel IAL Exam Paper Setup

There is also an international exam board, Edexcel IAL.

 

Edexcel  IAL

Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3

Paper 4

Paper 5

Paper 6

AS

P1

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

P2

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of

M1

S1

D1

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

 

 

 

A Level

P1

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

P2

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

P3

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

P4

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

 

Choose 1 option out of:

M1

M2

S1

S2

D1

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of:

M1

M2

S1

S2

D1

(1.5 hrs, 75 marks)

AS Further

FP1

(1 hr 30 mins,

75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of

FP2

FP3

M1

M2

M3

S1

S2

S3

D1

(1 hr 30 mins,

75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of

FP2

FP3

M1

M2

M3

S1

S2

S3

D1

(1 hr 30 mins,

75 marks)

 

 

 

A Level Further

FP1

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

FP2

FP3

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of

FP2

FP3

M1

M2

M3

S1

S2

S3

D1

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of

FP2

FP3

M1

M2

M3

S1

S2

S3

D1

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of

FP2

FP3

M1

M2

M3

S1

S2

S3

D1

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

Choose 1 option out of

FP2

FP3

M1

M2

M3

S1

S2

S3

D1

(1 hr 30 mins, 75 marks)

 

Edexcel IAL exams do not have to be taken at the end of the course in June like with Edexcel since they are modular. Edexcel IAL exams use the popular and flexible modular approach which means exams can be taken at the end of each unit of study, or throughout the programme of study when a student feels prepared and ready, or all together at the end the course. This flexibility, together with exam series in January, June and October, for most subjects, means that students have more opportunities to get feedback to improve their performance and get the grade they need to progress.  It allows students to split the unit exams into separate exam periods helping them to focus their preparation.

 

It is important to realise that P1, P2, M1, S1 and D1 for AS are the exact same module (exact same content and same exam) as for an A Level student. The only difference is that an AS student has to take them as some point within their first (and only) year, whereas an A Level student can sit them at any point in their first or second year. You need P1 and P2.  I’d recommend S1 for AS, then P3 and P4 with M1 for A Level.

For example one could do all of the P1- P4 exams in January (if those exams are available there and then), get your results and know how much more you need to do with your applied units in the summer.

 

  • The old C1, C2 and C12 modules are similar to the current P1 and P2 modules
  • The old C3, C4 and C34 modules are similar to the current P3 and P4 modules

 

You can find similar charts for all exam boards (AQA, OCR and Cambridge)  by clicking on the relevent folders of your modules below

For very detailed exam paper information for all exam boards click here

 

Link to Older Syllabus and Differences In Content 

Old Versus new Edxcel A Level Maths Spec

Found yourself wondeinrg what the differences are between the old and new A level spec? This section is particularly helpful if you are using older papers to revise or have older siblings who went through a different course and want to understand the differences with the latest spec course.  

 Current  Edexcel

(post 2017)

Old Edexcel

(pre 2017)

Old Edexcel IAL

(pre 2019)

Edexcel IAL

 

AS Pure

C1 and C2

C1, C2 and C12

P1 and P2

A Level Pure

C3 and C4

C3, C4 and C34

P3 and P4

AS Mechanics

M1

M1

M1

A Level Mechanics

M1

M1

M1

AS Statistics

S1

S1

S1

A Level Statistics

S2

S2

S2

AS Core Pure

FP1

F1

F1

A Level Core Pure 1

FP1

 F1

F1

A Level Core Pure 2

FP2-FP3

F2-F3

F2-F3

AS FP1

 No equivalent

No equivalent No equivalent

A Level FP1

 No equivalent

No equivalent

No equivalent

AS FP2

 No equivalent

No equivalent

No equivalent

A Level FP2

No equivalent

No equivalent

No equivalent

Specific differences in content:

Questions with the new syllabus are now synoptic in nature, which means multiple topics are mixed together in one question, and there are fewer single topic questions. This is similar to how the International Baccalaureate works and has done for some time. There is also now more emphasis on reasoning, modelling and problem solving than there used to be. 

Pure

Although AS and A Level Pure is similar to the old pure C1 - C4 content there are differences with a greater focus on modelling and problem solving in the new course. The latest A level maths course is much harder than the old course.  The new course has more emphasis on mathematical rigour and problem solving, rather than the regurgitation of the same questions that have been used for years.  You have to understand how and why things are done, not just memorise. 

New topics include:

  • Methods of proof (e.g. couterexample, contadiction and exhaustion)
  • Modelling with functions (most commonly trig), parametric equations and sequences and series
  • The use of logarithmic graphs are now required in order to estimate parameters in exponential relationships
  • Extra trigonometry topics such as small angle approximations and exact values of trig funcitons (although one has a calculator for all papers now so exact values can be found using a calculator)
  • Differentiation from first principles for polynomials, sin and cos
  • The use second derivatives for determining convexity, concavity and points of inflection (this also includes understanding graphs and their derivatives)
  • The Newton Raphson method

Some pure topics have also been removed such as:

  • Remainder theorem
  • Volumes of revolution
  • Vector equations of lines 
  • Scalar product of vectors

Note: The use of exponential and logarithmic models using base 'e' has moved from A levels to AS levels (they used to be in A level year 2 module C3, but got moved to AS year 1 now) and sequences and series, increasing, decreasing functions, radian measure, arc length, area of sectors, area between 2 curves and trapezium rule have been moved to A Level from the old AS course (they used to be in AS year 1 module C2 and got moved to A level year 2).

Statistics

The old S2 module has much more in it than A Level Statistics such as continuous distributions, Poisson, Poisson approximation to Binomial, Normal approximation to Poisson etc. All of this was taken out of A Level

The following has been added:

  • Sampling methods
  • Data presention techniques
  • A greater emphasis on making connections when calculating probability and hypothesis testing

Mechanics

In AS and A Level Mechanics nothing has been removed but a few topics have been added and also topics from AS moved to A Level and vice versa:

  • Derivation of formula for constant acceleration for motion for a straight line is new
  • Non-constant acceleration (use of calculus in Kinematics for motion in a straight line) was in second year before (in M2 and only required if you took that module), but is now introduced in first year.  There is also the introduction of two dimensions with vectors in year 2.
  • Moments with ladders. All of moments are learnt in year 2 now, whereas the non inclinde moments were introduced in year 1 module M1 before). Moments with ladders were part of M2 and only required if you took that module. 
  • Hinges were part of M2 and only required if you took that module.  Now the knowledge of them compulsory. 

Core Pure and Further Pure

The FP1 and FP2 modules have no equivalent as they are more advanced than any previos pure model and contain some univeristy maths topics.  They are great moduels for aspiring math degree students. 

You might be wondering what the differences are now between AS and A Level Further modules as they both come from the same textbook.  For example, FP1.  These papers are based upon the same content , but AS FP1 has half the number of quesitons as it is paired with another paper and the questions are slightly easier than A Level FP1. AS Further Core and A Level Further Core 1 papers are not the same in content since Core 1 has content from Core 2 and vice versa.

 

AS Course Option

AS is now considered a stand-alone qualification and no longer counts towards a full A level in maths. 

 

Differences with Older Papers and Exam Paper Setup

Old Setup

Pre 2018 the exams used to be modular which means individual modules were taken separately.  Modular exams are more flexible and students particularly liked this set up as some of the exams for A Level were gotten over and done with in the first year.  There is still a modular A Level existing - Edexcel international (IAL) taken abroad (non UK).  This was formerly referred to as the R papers by many students and are still modular with 3 possible sittings each year in Jan, June and October.

A UK Edexcel A Level student had to take C1, C2, C3, C4 and could then choose 2 modules out of M1, M2, S1 and S2.  You could either have chosen

  • S1 with S2
  • M1 with M2
  • M1 and S2

M2 and S2 were considered A Level modules and could only be taken in the second year since they relied on pre-requisite knowledge from M1 (if taking M2) and S1 (if taking S2). Students could therefore avoid mechanics or statistics completely if they wished, which is no longer the case now.  A student must learn pure, mechanics and statistics and exams are only sat at the end of the two year course and only take place in June (with retakes only in November). 

Students mainly did C1, C2 + S1 or M1 in June of year 12 and then could retake them in Jan and June of year 13. In 2014 the education minister Michael Gove felt that A levels were not tough enough and didn't prepare students properly for university. In the summer of 2012, he asked Ofqual (the body which oversees qualifications) to carry out a review of proposals. He felt that too many attempts to try and get better grades made it look like a poor qualification. One could retake modules multiple times and the highest mark would count. To stop this, he scrapped January exams from 2013 onwards and allowed students to resit exams only once.

The papers for the older courses mentioned can be found by clicking Edexcel Past Papers and scrolling down to the relevant folders at the bottom of the page that are prefixed with 'old'. There are also other exam boards AQA ,OCR and OCR MEI.

New Setup

In 2015, Ofqual made a further change since exam boards still felt that this system still did not encourage students to work at their hardest and was still too easy. The course is now linear, with all the exams taken at the end of the two years of study, and there is no more option for lots of retakes. You now have to wait until the following summer in June to retake. You will see some November papers but these were due to Covid. Your year 1 scores contribued to your A level grade before, but this is no longer the case. AS is still offered, but as a separate qualification. AS grades no longer count towards a subsequent A level.

The first exams for this new spec started in 2018. The change was alarming for students, but is actually in line with how A levels worked in the past before modules were introduced a few years ago. The idea is to encourage students to work hard and achieve their best through study, not endless rounds of resitting modules. 

These new spec papers can be found by clicking Edexcel Past Papers and scrolling down to the folders AS year 1 and A Level year 1. There are also further maths papers in other folders. 

For more information which includes everything you could wish to know about A Level maths and advice click here

A Level Maths Explained

 

Extra Practice Papers

Your first point of call for practice papers should be the papers for your course. Make sure you are aware of your exam board and course code to make sure you are identifying the correct papers.  As already mentioned, the new spec since 2018 is different to the old spec pre 2018.  The most common exam board in the UK is Edexcel with AS (first year) course code 8MA0 and A Level (second year) course code 9MA0. 

You can of course use the AS papers for practice for your A Levels, but don't let the fact of doing these mean you will do less A Level papers.  I always make my students do these papers at the end of their first year in order to be well prepared for their second year.  The papers are no easier in term of thr equivalent content.  The only difference is that they cover less topics.  

Once you have completed the papers above you can do the other UK exam boards which are AQA and OCR. Recall that the content covered for the new spec now similar across all the main UK exam boards AQA, Edexcel, OCR (spec A) and OCR MEI (spec B).  AQA is easier than Edexcel, but OCR is harder, especially OCR MEI. My advice is to do the papers for your course and then to move onto the advice in the harder papers section. You do not need to do papers for other exam boards. 

You can also practice the older UK papers. These papers can be found by clicking Edexcel Past Papers and scrolling down to the relevant folders at the bottom of the page that are prefixed with 'old' (do the same with AQA, OCR and OCR MEI if you want older papers for these exam boards instead). Recall that the January exams stopped in 2013 and the newer syllabus included some new topics and removed some of the older topics.  Also the questions were more straight forward in the old spec. The new spec combine topics in single questions and has extra topics so don't just concentrate on old papers.  See the link to older syllabus and differences in content' section above for a more detailed explanation of the differences.

Harder Papers

For harder papers one should do the Edexcel Internernaitonal IAL papers (they are modular still and are offered 3 times a year).  These papers were often called the R papers.  They can be found by clicking Edexcel IAL Past Papers and scrolling down to the relevant folders. To see how these papers relate to your course scroll up until you see the 'Edexcel IAL exam paper setup' and 'link to older syllabus and differences in content' section above. The are also paper for the older IAL syllabus prefixed with 'old.' 

For even harder papers click A Level Maths Practice Papers and navigate to the Solomon and Delphis folders at the bottom.  These are for the old spec, but are still great practice. 

Hardest Papers

The hardest papers ever can be found by clicking A Level Maths Practice Papers and navigating to the Edexcel IYGB folder.  

 

Extra Explanations

A Level Maths Explained - All You Need To Know

A Level Old Syllabus vs New Syllabus

A Level Scoring System

 

Grade Boundaries

Click the relevant folder below for further explanations of each exam board, exam and paper format. . 

A Level Maths Grade Boundaries vary greatly dependent on how students did for that particular year and have been very low recently. Click the link to see the grade boundaries for each year. 

Note: Students cannot get an A* for an AS, only for an A Level.

A Level Maths 2020, 2021 and 2022 Past Papers are available below.  Contact me with a verified teacher account for the October 2020 and 2021 and June 2022 Pearson Edexcel AQA and OCR Maths past papers and mocks.

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