Most students take GCSE Maths or iGCSE Maths in May/June of year 11. There are some other, extra, exams that some year 11 students take. These are more difficult than GCSEs and iGCSEs. These extra exams are usually only offered to the stronger students who are expected to get a grade 8 or 9 at GCSE or iGCSE. Schools offer these to give the brighter students something to get their teeth into and to prepare them for AS and A Level Maths.
Some schools only offer these extra year 11 exams to those few very bright students who take Maths GCSE or iGCSE a year early; others expect their students to do the extra exam and GCSE or iGCSE in the same May/June window.
These Extra year 11 exams are most common at selective state schools and independent schools. The 4 syllabuses from the 4 exam boards vary widely:
- AQA level 2 certificate in Further Maths
- Edexcel iGCSE Further Pure Maths
- OCR FSMQ Additional Maths
- CIE iGCSE Additional Maths
Edexcel iGCSE Further Pure Maths is nowadays only offered to schools outside the UK so I will not mention it further.
Note that the phrase “Further Maths” is confusing – the same phrase is used for a very different qualification – the second, more difficult, AS and A Level in Maths.
These courses have a lot of algebra and extend the Maths already covered within the iGCSE and GCSE syllabuses. Some of the AS year 12 pure Maths is covered. Students I’ve tutored tend to enjoy these exams a good deal – they feel they are doing something challenging and interesting.
- AQA level 2 certificate in Further Maths – 5 grades available: “A* with Distinction” A*, A, B and C. I believe that U (unclassified) is also possible.
- OCR FSMQ Additional Maths – 6 grades available: A, B, C, D, E and U available.
- CIE iGCSE Additional Maths – 7 grades available: A*, A, B, C, D, E and U are available.
From 2014, most of these exams are only offered during the June GCSE exam window – a 6 week period from mid-May to late June interrupted by Half Term. However, CIE iGCSE Additional Maths is still examined twice a year (November and June).
What is the future for these “extra year 11” exams?
With the GCSE tougher as from 2017 and the percentage of entrants getting top grades reducing from 5% to 3% it is possible that the entry for these exams may be lower in future; It would be a shame as the Maths in these qualifications is very interesting.
At the time of writing (June 2019), all 4 of the offerings are still available. I hope this will continue.
Martin Procter – June 2019