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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 is relatively new, but entries are growing rapidly, with over 12,000 entries in summer 2021.

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. This is 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 Mathematics.

Many universities have shown their support for Core Maths; however, few mention it in their admissions requirements, which is where it would have the biggest impact on uptake. If Core Maths would be useful preparation for a degree course, please consider including it in your published admissions criteria, perhaps in a similar way to EPQ.

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 courses.

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

Further information is available in the AMSP’s HEI briefing document and on the UCAS website.

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