Maths GCSE

Maths GCSE tuitionAbout Maths GCSE

Here are the main facts:

  • Courses now cover a wider range of topics than the old maths courses, including harder material. So if you have old textbooks and revise guides, you should get rid of them.
  • There are still foundation and higher tiers (WJEC include an intermediate tier).
  • Exams will be at the end of the course – no modules – and can be taken in May/June or November.
  • In England grades G to A will be replaced with grades 1 to 9.
  • Some schools will teach Maths GCSE over three years, starting in year 9. Others will do it in two years by adding additional lessons to cover the extra content.
  • The AQA, Edexcel and OCR courses cover the same content. Differences between the exams of different boards are not significant. That means that you can use exam papers from other exam boards to test yourself.

How do the new grade numbers relate to the old grade letters?

Level 4 is approximately equivalent to the bottom two thirds of the old C grade; this has been named a ‘standard pass’.
Level 5 is approximately equivalent to the upper third of the old C grade, plus grade B; this has been named a ‘strong pass’.
Levels 4 and 5 are the overlap tiers an can be obtained when taking either foundation or higher tier papers.
Level 6 is approximately equivalent to the old B grade.
Level 7 is approximately equivalent to the old A grade.
Levels 8 and 9 split the old A* grade.
Level 9 is given to the top 20% of those getting the equivalent of the old A grade. This is the top 3% of all students.

Foundation tier:

50% 50%
1 2 Lower 3 Upper 3 4 5
Approximately equivalent to:
G/F E D- D+ C C/B


Higher tier

50% 50%
4 5 6 7 8 9
Approximately equivalent to:
C C/B B A A/A* A/A*


Which formulae must be memorised?

Here is a graphic of the new formula sheet – click if you need to enlarge:

All other formulae, including the quadratic formula and the sine and cosine rules, must be learnt.



What are the best resources for Maths GCSE?

Your course textbook. This is the most important resource. It contains all the facts you need to know in much better detail than a revise guide. There are worked examples for each topic, plus lots of questions including exam-style problems. If your school doesn’t allow you to take a copy home with you, buy one from Amazon. Get the ISBN of the school’s copy to make sure you get the right one! They cost between £16 and £20 and you can sell them second-hand after you’ve finished with them. Resources from this publisher are low cost. They include revision guides, workbooks and specimen exam papers – roughly £6 each. Link –

BBC Bitesize. This is the best web resource. It is organised according to exam board, so you know that what it says is what you need to know. Read the revision notes and do the exercises. Link – bbc bitesize.

What are the best ways to learn maths?

Read your textbook and do all the worked examples. This is the most useful thing to do in order to get the basic information into your memory.

If you’re doing higher tier, get used to the formulae on your formula sheet. Know what kind of problems they can help you solve, how to rearrange them and how to substitute numbers into them.

Use past papers and specimen papers with their marking schemes and, if they exist, examiners’ reports. If possible, do exam papers and get them marked by a teacher (or by me -:)).

Learn as you go – don’t rely on revision.

Learning maths is all about repetition. Keep testing yourself – again and again.

6 Responses to Maths GCSE

  1. S Cabrera March 21, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    hi new Maths GCSE is still only worth one GCSE not two as you state above. It is for Progress 8 measure that the grade is double weighted. That is purely for schools and does not affect the student

    • Bob Foster March 21, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

      Absolutely right – thanks for pointing it out – I’ve deleted it.

  2. Chris Bosh February 4, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    What’s the difference between AQA and EDEXCEL Maths GCSE?

    • Bob Foster February 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

      All exam boards cover the same topics and do so at the same level, so really no difference as far as a student is concerned. No exam board is going to deliberately make their exams harder than the others!

  3. Debbie January 24, 2017 at 2:48 am #

    We’ve just been told that our son who’s in year 11 can only get a grade C in his GCSE as he’s not taking further maths…. Surely this can’t be right?

    • Bob Foster January 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

      Hi – I think you mean higher tier, not further maths, which is a separate GCSE for the higher attainers. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense to me either!
      So I presume that he’s been put in a foundation tier set because his teacher doesn’t think he can get more than a C (grade 4 now) and the school don’t want to run the risk of him getting ungraded at higher tier (bad for league tables!). What is his predicted grade? Which set is he in? What does he want to do next year? Happy to discuss…

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