What's in AS/A level Further Mathematics?
AS and A level Further Mathematics are two separate qualifications that can be taken alongside or following AS/A level Mathematics. They both broaden and deepen the maths covered in AS and A level Mathematics.
For both the AS and the A level qualifications, all of the assessment takes place at the end of the course, and exam questions may draw on the whole of the content. AS Further Mathematics is graded A-E, whilst A level Further Mathematics is graded A*-E. Both have UCAS tariff points.
The required subject content of AS and A level Further Mathematics has been defined by the government. Three awarding bodies – AQA, Edexcel and OCR – offer AS and A level Further Mathematics qualifications that comply with these requirements. The detailed content and assessment structure of these qualifications is defined in the awarding bodies’ specifications:
Half of the subject content is mandatory. The content of the remaining 50% varies between specifications, with a wide range of options available, including statistics, decision/discrete maths, mechanics and additional pure maths. The assessment structure also varies between specifications. The legacy Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP) produced a summary comparing them.
State-funded schools in England can only claim funding for teaching the English versions of AS and A level Further Mathematics. Independent and international schools and colleges may use other AS and A level Further Mathematics specifications, such as those offered by Cambridge International and Edexcel International.
Entries in England for A level Further Mathematics have risen rapidly in recent years. Young people recognise that it’s a highly desirable qualification that can help them achieve their aspirations for further study and their future career.
Studying A level Further Mathematics is excellent preparation for a degree in Mathematics. Many university maths departments encourage students to take Further Mathematics at A level as it introduces a wider range of pure and applied content, such as matrices and complex numbers. Students who have studied Further Mathematics often find the transition to university far more straightforward.
Around a third of Mathematics BSc degree courses mention Further Mathematics in their entry requirements, including it in their A level offers or encouraging students to take it if possible. For the Russell Group universities, this proportion is much higher.
If AS and/or A level Further Mathematics would be useful preparation for your degree courses, please consider including them in your published admissions criteria as this is helpful information for students. Whilst they may not be essential entry requirements, you might state that they are useful preparation for the course and that you look positively on applications from students offering them. Some universities give differentiated offers to encourage certain qualifications – this might be considered for students offering an AS or A level in Further Mathematics.
Further information is available in the AMSP’s HEI briefing document.