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Countdown To First GCSE Exam

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GCSE

Past Papers


Every single GCSE maths past paper and iGCSE maths past paper that exists can be found in the folders at the bottom of this page.  The papers are available for all exam boards - Edexcel, AQA, OCR, Cambridge (CIE), WJEC, CCEA, and SQA. This page also contains everything that any student or parent could possibly want to know about GCSEs. 

 

What are GCSEs?

GCSEs are the most well-known and highly regarded qualification for students in the UK.  They are desined for students aged 14-16 and are a pre-requeisite for those wanting to study A Levels (students aged 16-18) before entering university in the UK.  GCSE results are a very important since they affect which qualifications and subjects a student is able to take at A Levels and their eligibility for a chosen university and course.  GCSEs affect your career prospects later down the line because several employers require job applicants to meet their minimum requirement in Maths and English at GCSE level.

At the time of applying to university, students will only have their GCSE results and their predicted A-level grades to apply with (not their final grades).  This means that this is the only information that a university will base its offer on (along with other elements of course such as personal statement, overall academic profile, extracurricular activities, hobbies, etc). 

 

What are iGCSEs?

GCSE Maths is only offered in the UK and is a compulsory GCSE subject in all state schools in the UK.  There is also an iGCSE Maths Qualification. The 'i' infront of GCSE stands for international. iGCSEs were developed by Edexcel and Cambridge to serve the large market abroad for British qualifications and therefore is offered both in the UK (only in private schools) and internationally. See Edexcel GCSE versus iGCSE below for more detail

 

How many GCSEs are taken?

Students take a minimum of 5 up to a maximum of 9 – 12 subjects at GCSE level. GCSE subject choices should be based on individual interests, future study and career plans, and of course which subjects a particular school offers. Top unis consider the quality of the GCSEs taken rather than the quantity.  Therefore a smaller number of GCSEs will not inhibit ones chances of a successful application, as long as strong grades are achieved in the subjects that you take. 

 

Exam Boards:

Each subject (at GCSE and A level) comes with different options for exam boards. There are 7 exam boards. The exam board studied depends on your school's choice and location and often schools use different exam boards for different subjects.  Always ask your school which exam board they are taking to make sure you are practising with the correct papers! 

  • Edexcel is available as a GCSE or iGCSE course. Edexcel is the most common exam board taken in the UK and GCSE is offered more than iGCSE in UK schools which is only offered at some private schools. You will often see Pearson Edexcel written rather than just Edexcel as Pearson own Edexcel (Edexcel is a subsidiary of the publisher Pearson). The iGCSE is taken in over 80 countries.
  • AQA is available as a GCSE and is available in the UK only
  • OCR is available as a GCSE and is available in the UK only
  • Cambridge (CIE) is only available as an iGCSE course. Cambridge iGCSE is not as commonly offered in the UK as Edexcel iGCSE. It is primarily used by overseas schools. This is the world's most popular international qualification and is taken in over 150 countries. O Levels are still awarded by the Cambridge exam board, but only in select locations.
  • WJEC is available as a GCSE in Wales only
  • CCEA is available as a GCSE in Northern Ireland only
  • SQA is available as a GCSE in Scotland only

It is important to take from this that there are 6 GCSE exam boards (Edexcel, AQA, OCR, WJEC, CCEA and SQA), but only 2 iGCSE exam boards (Edexcel or Cambridge).  

All courses are a 2 year course. The most common GCSE Maths exam boards in order of difficulty from least to greatest are AQA, Edexcel, OCR and Cambridge.  Click Syllabi and Formula Sheets to see the full syllabus for each exam board located in each blue folder. The Edexcel/AQA/OCR GCSE Maths exams all have the same content. The content is not the same between GCSE and iGCSE exams though.

 

Edexcel GCSE Versus Edexcel iGCSE

The Edexcel iGCSE Maths exam is considered easier than the Edexcel/AQA/OCR GCSE Maths exam for the following reasons:

  • Flexibility - The GCSE exam can only be sat in May/June (with resits as an option November). The resits are for students seeking to improve their grade from the previous summer, or from students that had planned to enter in the summer but were unable to do so.  In contrast, iGCSE  Maths exams used to be sat in January and in May/June each year (and November during 2020 and 2021 due to Covid).  HOWEVER, Jan 2023 will be the final iGCSE exam series and a regular November series will start in 2023. Therefore from Nov 2023 onwards there will be no difference in flexibility of exams. 
  • Predictability - The iGCSE exam is more formulaic and requires less problem solving skills.  There is a lot of solving and practical application of Maths in GCSE unlike iGCSE where there are many calculation style questions.  The quesitons are more routine in iGCSE due to the fact that this is an international exam where English is not the first language of most students. There is a formula sheet provided for the iGCSE exam whereas there is no formula sheet for the GCSE exam and students must have all formulae memorised
  • Number Of Papers and Calculator Usage - There are only 2 papers for the iGCSE (both calculator) whereas there are 3 for GCSE (one calculator and two non-calculator). Some students struggle with non-calculator papers and prefer having a calculator to hand.
  • Content and Types Of Questions - Edexcel iGCSE used to have coursework, but it got removed many years ago. There are slightly fewer topics (roughly 20%) in GCSE, but they are studied in greater depth and application.  It should not really be a question of whether there are more or less topics in Edexcel iGCSE than GCSE since GCSE has topics which are not included in iGCSE and vice versa and the difficulty level doesn't stem from this, but instead stems from the 3 reasons mentioned above. See GCSE versus iGCSE Topic Comparison for a detailed comparison of topics.  Edexcel iGCSE does contain some additional challenging contents (such as basic calculus) that one would have to learn if they aspired to a level 9 grade and there is more actual maths involved (e.g. solving equations), but this can be prepared for well with practice and memorising/following set methods. Edexcel GCSE on the other hand has a significant chunk of marks allocated to functional and problem solving questions that many students seem to find hard to prepare for.

The contrast between Edexcel GCSEs and Edexcel iGCSEs is regarded as being so insignificant that either option is not recognized as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the other and therefore GCSE and iGCSE regarded as ‘equivalent’ qualifications by all institutions - in terms of access to A Level (and other level 3 courses) and university grade submisisons.  The ‘Russell Group’ universities in the United Kingdom (consisting of  the 24 most prestigious public research universities which includes the likes of Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, LSE and Durham have openly reported that they do not make a single distinction between IGCSEs and GCSEs when considering students for acceptance into their undergrad degree courses.

Other differences which don't make any difference to the difficulty between the exam boards include the following:

Availiabilty By Country

GCSE qualifications are only available in the UK and certain schools in a small number of other countries such as Canada, Australia and India. The iGCSE is by nature 'international' and can be taken in over 150 countries worldwide.  It is only offered in private and international schools in the UK.  International schools offer iGCSE since it facilitates tranfers from other countries to the UK mid-course more easily.  

Time Zones

The iGCSE papers have different papers for different time zones due to their international nature.  This is so that none of the papers get leaked. Otherwise someone who already had their exam in another time zone can leak the paper to a person in another country. These papers end in 'R' where 'R' stands for regional as these papers were specifically designed to cater for the different time zones. The 'R' papers are used by centers in the Asian/Pacific regions.  However, there is no difference in the syllabus content between different time zones. 

Number Of Courses Offered

iGCSE offers 2 courses/specifications (A and B), unlike GCSE where there is one set course. Specification A (4MA1) is available at foundation and higher tier. Specification B (4MB1)  is available at higher tier only and is quite a bit harder than A and offers some of the topics that are seen in GCSE Further/additonal maths and A Levels. Specification B is very rarely taken and I have never come across any schools offering B in the UK. 

Exam Dates

Up until 2023, the Edexcel IGCSE (Spec A) has only been available in January and May/June (although though due to Covid they have some November sittings replacing in 2020 and 2021).  However,  from 2023, Pearson is bringing the Edexcel iGCSE into line with the other exam boards so Jan 2023 being the final January iGCSE series and a regular November series will start in 2023.  Therefore the exam dates will now be the same for both GCSE and iGCSE - May/June and Novemeber with a GCSE resit opportunity in November for GCSE and iGCSE for students who failed or who need to improve their grade. 

Past Papers

Click here to find GCSE past papers

Click here to find iGCSE A past papers

Click here to find iGCSE B past papers

 

Cambridge iGCSE Versus Edexcel iGCSE and Edexcel GCSE

Number of Courses Offered

Edexcel and Cambridge both offer more than one iGCSE course/specification, unlike GCSE where there is one set course.  Edexcel iGCSE offers 2 specifications (specification A 4MA1 and specification B 4MB1).  Specification B is available at Higher Tier only unlike specification A and is quite a bit harder than A. Specification B is very rarely taken and I have never come across any schools offering B in the UK. Cambridge has 4 specifications (0580, 0607, 0444-US only and 0980-UK only). 0580 and 0607 are the most popular and are similar courses overall. 0607 is just like an upgrade of 0580. 

Numer of Papers, Calculator Usage and Difficulty Level

Edexcel GCSE has 3 papers (one non calculator), Edexcel iGCSE has 2 papers (both calculator) and Cambridge has 2 or 3 papers (always one non calculator paper) depending on the specificiation chosen. There are 3 papers for 0607, whereas there are 2 papers for 0580.  There is not too much difference for the core (foundation level), but there is at higher (extended level). At extended level, 0607's syllabus is more extensive and the questions are a little tougher, but 0580 has some pre-calculus material which isn't in 0607 and a bunch of other topics. Overall, 0607 is definitely tougher. At extended level, there is an investigation-modelling paper (paper 6) which is a very different and challenging paper which isn't the case for 0580. You need to learn how to use the graphic display calculator (GDC) for both paper 4 and 6 in 0607 but only a regular scientific is allowed in 0580. 0607 prepares one better for A levels and IB. As far as the move to IB is concerned, it depends on the type of math the student wants to take. If they want to take IB Applications and Interpretation which is very stats based then 0580 is fine, but it they want to take Analysis and Approaches HL which is very theory based then 0607 is recommended. 

Cambridge iGCSE is regarded as having the same difficulty level as edexcel OVERALL, but there is great difference of opinion on this as it really depends on the subject! For example, Cambridge has a reputation for being easier than Edexcel for English but much harder for maths! In the case of maths, there are noticeable differences between Edexcel and Cambridge. Cambridge maths is considerably more difficult when compared to Edexcel maths. Not only does Cambridge have a lot more topics, but the questions are phrased to require a much deeper level of understanding. Cambridge usually compensate for this during the grading process though.  Cambridge have to maintain more of an international standard when compared to Edexcel since Edexcel is more focussed on the UK. In terms of worldwide recognition, Cambridge iGCSEs are accepted as equivalent to UK GCSEs by leading universities worldwide, just like Edxcel iGCSEs are. 

Grading 

IGCSE results were traditionally graded from A* – G, however, from June 2017, schools in England began introducing a 9 – 1 grading system for GCSEs and IGCSEs.  Howeverr, for the Cambridge exam board,  the A* – G system is still in place for the majority of students and countries (the new 9 – 1 system is available on an optional basis for schools in certain regions though). 

Exam Dates

The Cambridge International (CIE) exam series are in November and May/June (which Edexcel iGCSE is now doing since 2023 as they scrapped their January exams from 2024 onwards and replaced them with November exams since 2023).  November exams are also for resit opportunities. 

Tiers

Edexcel A iGCSE offers a foundarion and higher option.  Edexcel B offers a higher option only.  

Time Zones

Different time zones and indicated with an R at the end of the iGCSE Edexcel paper, whereas each Cambridge iGCSE time zone is indicated by the second number. Cambridge papers have 2 numbers which are particular to the Cambridge exam board. The first number is the paper number and the second number is the time zone variant. A set of papers will always have the same final number  e.g. 11, 31, 51 or 12, 32, 52. The content of these exams is not specific to location (all locations have the same syllabus), so they can all be used for practice examinations. For every paper,  there are three time zone variants. Variant 1,2 and 3. These variants have papers that are different from the others. Countries are divided into zones which take the exam of their variant. For example, Pakistan is given variant 2. 

Past Papers

Click here to find iGCSE 0607 past papers

Click here to find iGCSE 0580 past papers

Click here to find iGCSE 0980 past papers

 

Further and Additional Maths Courses (GCSE and iGCSE)

There are also Further (GCSE and iGCSE) and Additional Maths (GCSE and iGCSE) courses for more able mathematicians who plan to study maths at A Level.  These courses are a great stepping stone between GCSE/iGCSE and A Level. Additional Maths is considered harder than further maths. Further Maths is a GCSE equivalent (known as a level 2 course), rather than a GCSE. Additional Maths is better than a GCSE, more like half an AS level (known as level 3 course) and gives UCAS points. Additional Maths will prepare a student a lot better than Further Maths will and has a lot of the content that is learnt during half of the first year of A Level maths. Further Maths is just an extension of GCSE knowledge.

The following courses are available:

  • AQA GCSE Further Maths.  This is only available in the UK.  Click here to find papers for this course. 
  • Edexcel iGCSE Further Maths. This is offered in the UK and internationally and is harder than AQA Further Maths.  Click here to find papers for this course. 
  • OCR GCSE Additional Maths. This is only available in the UK.  This is harder than both AQA Additional Maths and Edexcel Further Maths.  Click here to find papers for this course. 
  • Cambridge iGCSE Additional Maths (spec 0606). This is offered in the UK and internationally. This is the hardest course of all.   Click here to find papers for this course. 

See Further and Additional Maths for a more detailed description of the differences between Further and Additional Maths. See Additional and Further Maths Syllabus Checklist for detailled topic checklists.

 

Topic Checklists and Comparsions Between Course Topics

Click here to see the list of topics and comparisons of topics for every available course. 

 

Grade Boundaries

Letter grades were replaced in 2017 and GCSE are now marked from grades 1-9 (although Cambridge specification 0580 and 0607 still uses the letter grading system). The new grade 9 is more valuable than the A* as it is awarded to fewer students than the A*, with top performing students now being awarded three grades (9, 8 and 7) rather than 2 grades (A* and A). So, under the new system, a smaller proportion of students achieve a grade 9. The grade boundaries are usually quite low, which makes it pretty easy for students to do well in GCSEs Maths. The boundaries fluctuate each year dependent on how difficult/easy the students found the exam. The grade boundaries also vary between exam board, so the following can only be used as a rough guide: 

  • 9 High A* which is approx 85% 
  • 8 Low A* or high A grade which is approx 70% 
  • 7 Low A grade which is approx 55%. Grades 7 is the usual requirement for entry to an A-level maths course.  Approximately 50% of the marks on the higher paper are aimed at grade 7 and above.
  • 6 High B grade which is approx 45% 
  • 5 Low B or high C grade which is approx 30%. A 5 is considered a "strong pass." 
  • 4 Low C grade which is roughly 25%. This is considered a "pass." 
  • 3 D or high E grade which is roughly 20%) 
  • 2 Low E or high F grade which is roughly 15% 
  • 1 Low F or G grade which is roughly 10%
  • U = Ungraded

 

Paper Format/Structure

As already mentioned, the UK Edexcel/AQA/OCR GCSE Maths exams papers all have the same content, albeit it a different difficulty level (OCR being the hardest and AQA being the easiest). The content is not the same between GCSE and the iGCSE (Edexcel and Cambridge) exams though. Cambridge iGCSE is by far the hardest exam and Edexcel GCSE and Edexcel iGCSE are regarded as as having the same level of difficulty (read Edexcel GCSE versus iGCSE section above). 

GCSE maths past papers (Edexcel, AQA and OCR) consists of 3 papers. One non calculator and two calculator papers each worth 80 marks and all 1.5 hours long.  The first paper is the non-calculator for GCSE Edexcel and AQA exam boards, whereas it is the second paper that is non-calculator for OCR.

Edexcel iGCSE maths past papers consist only of 2 papers (both calculator each worth 100 marks and 2 hours long). iGCSE have an A version and a B version.  The B version is harder (and has no foundation option) and prepares you better for an A level course better.  I have never come accross a school in the UK offering the B version.

Cambridge iGCSE maths past papers  either consist of 3 papers (0607 Spec) or 2 papers (0580 Spec or 0980 Spec).  

 

Foundation Versus Higher

GCSE's papers are available in two tiers, foundation or higher level. Weaker students will take the foundation course. The highest grade one can obtain for a foundation tier course is 5. The foundation tier is designed for students who are aiming for grades 1-5 (capped at a grade 5), and Higher tier is designed for students who are looking for grades 4-9 and hence a minimum grade of 4.  So, in the higher tier you can only achieve grades 4-9 otherwise otherwiwse anything less than that is a fail (a U which stands for Ungraded). However, if a student only just misses out on a grade 4 then they may be awarded a grade 3 which means a "nearely a pass" grade. If you are achieving a grade 4, then you are better off taking the foundation paper as 50% of the marks on a higher paper is aimed at a grade 7  and above and hence the papers will be too difficult for someone doubtful of achieving a grade 4.  There are some questions which overlap in both foundation and higher papers  because everyone learns some of the same content – higher tier students learn what foundation tier students do plus extra. Foundation tier courses will therefore have less content and only content up until a grade 5. 

See the following for a list of topics

Foundation vs Higher Topic List

Everything up until grade 5 is in foundation.  Everything from grades 1-9 is in higher. 

 

Foundation Versus Higher Paper Structure

Edexcel, AQA and OCR exam boards Foundation level papers either end in F (1F, 2F, 3F) or have an F written on the front of the paper. Higher level papers either end in H (1H, 2H, 3H) or have an H written on the front of the paper.

OCR number their papers from 1-6 and papers 1-3 are foundation and 4-6 higher. 

The Cambridge exam board use the words 'core' and 'extended' rather than foundation and higher. They number their papers from:

  • 1 - 6 for 0580 spec
  • 1 - 4 for 0607 spec
  • 1 - 4 for the 0980 spec

For 0607 and 0980, the extended papers (higher) are papers 2, 4, and 6 and core papers (foundation) are papers 1, 3, and 4. 

For 0580 the extended papers are papers 2 and 4 and core papers are 1 and 3.  A school will normally recommend that a student sit the foundation/core papers if they are struggle with maths.  

 

Different Time Zones

The content of these exams is not specific to location (all locations have the same syllabus), so they can all be used for practice examinations.

The iGCSE papers have different papers for different time zones. This is done so that none of the papers get leaked. Otherwise, due to time difference of countries someone who already had their exam can simply leak the paper to a person in another country. You will notice that some papers end in R for Edexcel iGCSE maths. 'R' stands for regional as these papers were specifically designed to cater for the different time zones. The 'R' papers are used by centers in the Asian/Pacific regions.

Each Cambridge iGCSE papers have 2 numbers which is particular to the Cambridge exam board. The first number is the paper number and the second number is the variant. A set of papers will always have the same final number  e.g. 11, 31, 51 or 12, 32, 52.  For every paper of each subject there are three variants. Variant 1,2 and 3. These variants have papers that are different from the others. Countries are divided into zones which take the exam of their variant. For example, Pakistan is given variant 2. 

  

Passing Grade and GCSE Grade Requirement For A Levels

Grade 4 is a pass.  Grade 5 is considered a strong pass (in either foundation or higher).  However, this will not be enough if you want to go on to study A Level maths.  Usually schools require a grade 6 (B) for entry onto an A Level maths course.  However, some will require a 7 or above.  If a student wants to ensure that they will not struggle with A Level maths then they should comfortably get an 8 in their GCSEs. If a student wants to do A Level maths then they will usually be required to have a grade 8 or above, but a grade 7 will be considered in exceptional circumstances.

 

GCSE Maths Past Papers On This Website

All papers for all exam boards and years can be found below.  Navigate to each relevant folder below for greater detail and explanation of each exam board, exam and paper setup. If you are not sure which exam board you are studying ask your teacher. 

You can download each of the exam board's papers by clicking the folders below.   All papers below have mark schemes provided by the exam board and also written detailed mark schemes (model answers) which show all steps and are easier to follow.  These documents end with MS which stands for Mark Scheme. 

In 2017, letter grades were replaced with a new 9-1 grading system.  All papers from 2017 for Edexcel GCSE are for the latest syllabus (you will notice that these papers require more solving skills than earlier papers) and all papers from 2018 are for the latest syllabus for Edexcel iGCSE.  All older (legacy) papers for all exam boards are also available below, but are always in a separate folder that start with old (apart from the Cambridge folders which have all papers inside).        

The most recent GCSE Maths 2020 , 2021 and 2022 Past Papers are available below.  Contact me with a verified teacher account for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Pearson Edexcel, AQA and OCR Maths past papers and mocks.        

GCSE maths grade boundaries vary based on how students did for that particular year.  Click the link to see the grade boundaries for exam board, year and paper.  Exam dates and timer countdowns are also available for every exam.

Use the facebook messenger chat or the contact form to request any papers from an older syllabus. 

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