Thinking of studying Maths A level?

  • Published: 25th July 2017

You have made a great choice in choosing A level Maths; it is one of the most respected A levels there is. By studying Maths you are opening up a wide range of possible professions as well as showing future employers that you have essential problem solving skills.
A level Maths consists of two-thirds pure maths which builds on topics such as algebra and trigonometry from GCSE, one sixth Mechanics which is the study of how forces make things move or stay still and one sixth Statistics which builds on the work you did on averages, probability and correlation you did in GCSE.

A level Statistics
This is a great choice for you if you want Maths to support your other subjects. It involves interpreting data, probability and making and testing hypotheses. These are skills that you will need in subjects such as Psychology, Geography, Sociology and Biology. By itself, it would not be a good preparation for a Maths degree.

A level Further Maths
If Maths is absolutely your favourite subject and you can see yourself doing a degree in it or a subject with a lot of maths content like Engineering or Economics or Computing then you may want to consider Further Maths. You would study this in conjunction with A level Maths. It would involve even more Pure Maths as well as more Statistics and some Decision Maths which is the study of networks.
Further Maths is great fun to study if you love maths and it can open doors. Don’t just take our word for it. The Further maths network website has more information. Click on the student section. www.fmnetwork.org.uk

Maths Lessons at SFX
Our maths lessons are very active. Much time in each lesson is spent with students working on problems in groups on big whiteboard around the class, with the teacher just offering guidance when it is absolutely necessary. All the research says that people learn by doing, not by listening to a teacher and our students certainly enjoy this approach. Here are some of the things they say:

Maths at SFX is a very hands-on experience. Majority of the work is done in groups of 2 to 4 students on white boards. This encourages team work and chances are if you are unsure of how to tackle a question, someone in the group will be able to. Essentially, students have the opportunity to teach each other which is definitely the best way to learn. That, along with occasional competitions and demonstrations, ensures each lesson is different and not mundane. (Ateeb: Maths and Mechanics student)
Maths at SFX is very practical and enables you to transfer your logical and arithmetic skills to real life situations. Working with a variety of people during lessons helps you to share different ways of solving problems, gaining better understanding of the subject. Resources at the LRC help to polish your maths skills and the maths teachers are always ready to lend a helping hand. (Philemon: Maths and Mechanics student)

We also have regular testing to check that you are on track and offer support if you fall behind.

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Extracurricular Maths

Every year we enter students for the UK Senior Maths Challenge. You may have entered the Junior and Intermediate Challenges at school. The Senior one is set up in the same way with 25 multiple choice questions requiring lateral thinking. We have a few practice sessions beforehand and some of our students always get bronze, silver or gold certificates. We pick the best students to represent the college in the Team Challenge at Queen Mary University.

Look at this link to find past papers to the senior challenge.

We have a Gifted and Talented Maths group that meets regularly to work on harder questions. We look at Oxford entry exam questions, STEP paper questions (you would have to sit a STEP paper if you want to study Maths at Cambridge or Warwick) and Advanced Extension award. Bright students get the chance to work with people from other groups and really stretch themselves.

Being in London we are lucky to have many opportunities to hear eminent mathematicians speak. We have heard about the secret maths in “The Simpsons”, “How to build a bouncing bomb” and “How statistics is used to study diseases”.

At the end of the first year, we ask all of our Maths students to write a review of a Maths article from PLUS online magazine. Last year students wrote reviews on topics such as “The Logic of Drug Testing”, “What is Time?” and “Does infinity exist?”.

Take a look at this site. There is something for everyone.

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What can I do with Maths?
Many of our maths students come to SFX wanting a career in Accounting and of course, that is one way of using your love of numbers and maths. However, there are many other possibilities. We would encourage you to also consider a Maths degree, or perhaps a combined degree, combing Maths with another subject.

  • A maths degree opens doors.
  • There are many careers that use maths.
  • A maths degree will teach you to think rationally and process information clearly and accurately – skills which are useful in any career.
  • The employment prospects for graduates with maths degrees could not be better.
  • The demand for mathematicians increases by 4% a year. They are needed in technology and in organisations which base their strategy on statistical evidence. Maths and Computing graduates can expect to earn £220000 more in his or her lifetime than a person leaving education with two A levels.

What do maths and stats graduates do?
There really is no “typical job” that maths graduates go on to. Mathematics is more of a way of thinking, or a set of tools, than a specific learned skill. However, a mathematician’s logical, problem-solving and numerical skills are highly sought after in many different areas of employment. A maths degree is proof of a good mind.

  • Scientific research – All kinds of companies carry out research and need mathematicians to develop models. For instance, pharmaceutical companies employ teams of mathematicians to work on clinical data about the effectiveness or dangers of new drugs.
  • Economics – Government and large companies employ statisticians to form policies, perform market analysis and risk assessment. Many mathematics graduates go to work in the City, in financial modelling and stock market trading.
  • Actuarial Services – An actuary’s job involves studying past trends in order to predict future outcomes to help the insurance industry.
  • Operation Research – This uses maths to make organisations run more efficiently, maximising production or profit and minimising risk and loss
  • Teaching – You know all about that. Your teachers love their job – it is definitely worth considering.

Or . . . .

  • Computer games designer
  • Climate change researcher
  • Catastrophe manager
  • Ministry of Defence analyst
  • Meteorologist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Statistician
  • Investment banker
  • Oceanographer
  • Engineer
  • Telecommunications worker
  • Transport analyst
  • Cryptographer
  • Seismologist (Earthquakes)
  • Astronaut

There is a great website ‘Maths Careers‘, where you can find out a lot more about everything you can do with Maths and why it is such a respected subject. Take a look – you are sure to find something that will interest you