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Core Maths is an umbrella term for a specific type of level 3 maths qualification that is defined by the government’s technical guidance. These qualifications are equal in size to an AS level qualification and are graded A-E. They have the same number of UCAS tariff points as an AS level qualification. Core Maths qualifications count in the Advanced Level Maths measure and the Tech Bacc measure for schools/colleges as part of the 16 to18 performance measures.

Core Maths is relatively new, but entries are growing rapidly, with over 12,000 entries in summer 2022. The number of schools and colleges offering Core Maths is steadily increasing too. In 2020-21, there were 688 state-funded schools/colleges with students taking Core Maths exams (DfE School Performance Table data).

A chart displaying Core Maths entries from 2016-2022. 2016 - 2931, 2017 - 5376, 2018 - 6849, 2019 - 9027, 2020 - 11792, 2021 - 12116, 2022 - 12311
Core Maths entries, 2016-2022; data from awarding bodies

Core Maths is intended for students who have passed GCSE Mathematics at grade 4 or better, but who have not chosen to study AS or A level Mathematics. It can be studied in a single year or over a two-year period and can be taken alongside A levels or other qualifications, including vocational courses.

Studying Core Maths helps students develop their quantitative and problem-solving skills. These support their learning in other Level 3 courses and are valuable preparation for the quantitative skills they will need for many degree courses, particularly subjects such as psychology, geography, business-related courses, sports and social sciences, and natural science courses that do not require AS/A level Mathematics. For more information explore the benefits to students and teachers.

An increasing number of universities have shown their support for Core Maths including it in their admissions requirements.

Core Maths qualifications

There are four different Core Maths qualifications:

They all focus on using and applying maths and include ideas and skills that support maths in other subjects.

Core Maths content

All Core Maths qualifications include:

  • interpreting solutions in the context of the problem
  • understanding sources of error and bias when problem-solving
  • working with data
  • understanding risk and probability
  • understanding variation in statistics
  • using exponential functions to model growth and decay

Most Core Maths qualifications also include:

  • percentage change
  • interpretation of graphs
  • financial maths
  • using standard units
  • Fermi estimation
  • the Normal distribution
  • correlation, knowing it does not imply causation
  • making and evaluating assumptions when modelling or problem solving
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