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Mike Baxter, Assistant to the North West Region Area Coordinators

In October, the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool hosted the first in a series of KS5 networks, looking at the style of the new exam papers and implications for teachers and students. This generated much discussion and centred on the following general themes faced across the examination boards:

  • Questions with a lack of structure
    • e.g. “Find the minimum length of a weld needed to make a can (9 marks)”
  • Questions requiring detailed reasoning or proof
    • e.g. “If n is a prime number greater than 5, prove n4 has a final digit of 1 (5 marks)”
  • Questions with a new or unfamiliar approach
    • e.g. “Complete a partial proof of a compound angle formula”

The following general comments were often mentioned:

  • Students resorting to a calculator to “fully justify their answers”
  • Students not using a calculator for routine solving of equations
  • Not keeping written statements pithy and clear
  • Some students didn’t seem to be familiar enough with the Large Data Set
  • Algebra skills were lacking and could limit progress
  • Basic mechanics was often poorly understood
  • Students did understand “prove from first principles”
  • Students did not use appropriate accuracy on their final answers

The teachers went away with a better understand of the issues, having discussed ways of informing both colleagues and students.

Future networks will focus on second year statistics and technology, second year mechanics and demonstrations, problem solving and further maths. You can find your local network on the AMSP website.

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