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How Hard is A-Level Further Maths?

In A-Level by Think Student Editor1 Comment

Choosing your A-Levels can be hard, and it’s important to make sure you make the right choice. A-Level Further Maths is a great one to pick, but will you be able to keep up with the work?

In this article I’ll be going over the main questions about A-Level Further Maths. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be able to make an educated decision about whether or not to take this subject.

You should also be able to choose some A-Levels to go with it! It’s hard to come up with that final A-Level choice sometimes, so I’m here to help.

A-Level Further Maths is possibly the hardest A-Level out there. It’s a huge step up from A-Level Maths, and even GCSE Further Maths. The workload is immense, and the content is intensely difficult. Unless you’re an able student with a good work ethic, I would not recommend taking this A-Level. You need an extremely good head for maths, and you need to be adept with concepts of both A-Level and GCSE Maths.

How Hard is A-Level Further Maths Compared To A-Level Maths?

A-Level Maths Compared To A-Level Further Maths

We know the requirements for the course, but how bad can it possibly be compared to A-Level Maths?

A-Level Further Maths is considered to be one of the hardest A-Levels out there, if not the hardest. You should only be applying for this subject if you are the most able mathematician.

Its little brother, A-Level Maths, is also quite hard. The only difference in average requirements for these courses is 1 GCSE grade. The minimum requirement for A-Level Maths is a 6 at GCSE compared to a 7 at GCSE for A-Level Further Maths.

They are quite similar in some ways. The same amount of lesson time, the same pace of content, and the same expected independent study time are all in common.

However, they are also quite different. The content of A-Level Further Maths is much, much harder than that of A-Level Maths. 

A-Level Further Maths is also used for different things compared to A-Level Maths. It’s useful if you want to go into university and study a maths undergraduate degree, or other difficult degrees.

A-Level Maths is useful for this purpose too, but A-Level Further Maths is even better. This is because university’s consider students who have got A-Level Further Maths under there belt, to be very academically gifted and more suitable for STEM subjects. 

You know that the content in A-Level Further Maths must be hard when they recommend graph plotting calculators…

On that note, if you decide to take A-Level Further Maths, it is essential that you have the right calculator or you will fall behind – the syllabus is just too advanced for non-graphical calculators. Make sure to check out this article on the best calculators for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths.

It’s also important to mention the fact that you can’t do A-Level Further Maths without A-Level Maths. This is because A-Level Further Maths includes content that you need A-Level Maths concepts for.

A-Level Further Maths just goes into more depth than A-Level Maths does, it stretches and challenges even the most capable of minds.

If you can’t handle the A-Level Maths course, you really shouldn’t be considering A-Level Further Maths. Check out this article to see how hard normal A-Level Maths is.

How Much Content Is There In A-Level Further Maths Compared To A-Level Maths?

A-Level Maths or Further Maths Classroom

A-Level Further Maths is one of the hardest A-Levels. Therefore, the content must also be difficult – but just how much of it is there, and what’s it like?

The A-Level Further Maths course runs for two consecutive years in college. Exam boards don’t really affect what content there is, but they do affect what your exams will be like.

There are effectively 15 different modules in A-Level Further Maths. Pure, Mechanics, Statistics and Decision make up these modules.

Statistics contains lots and lots of graphs… It’s all about interpreting data, algorithms, and distribution. This area is good for if you want to be any kind of data analyst.

The Pure bit just makes up the areas of the course that don’t have many applications. It also includes many of the basic principles and theories that you need to know.

Mechanics makes up the most of the course, as that’s where A-Level Further Maths has the most applications. In contrast, Decision takes up the least amount.

In these modules, there are lots more subject areas. I don’t want to waste your time going through them all, but if you take a look here then they’re all listed out on the AQA website.

So, 15 modules in the 2 years that the course runs. That’s quite a lot of subject content in a short space of time, considering how in depth each of these topics goes.

Not to mention the fact that you have to learn it all with only four and a half hours a week. This means that most of your learning should come from your independent study.

In contrast, A-Level Maths has 19 topics. At first, it may seem that A-Level Maths has more content than it’s supposedly more difficult counterpart. However, the topics you cover in A-Level Maths do not go into nearly as much detail and are relatively easy compared to the modules in A-Level Further Maths.

To see the full list off topics for A-Level Maths click here.

As I’ve said, the content itself is extremely difficult, which contributes to Further Maths being the hardest A-Level out there.

It’s a huge step up from both GCSE Further Maths and A-Level Maths. The content is difficult to understand for even the most capable mathematicians, and that’s why the entry requirements are so high.

How Hard Is A-Level Further Maths Compared To GCSE Further Maths?

A-Level Maths Exams Compared To A-Level Further Maths Exams

We know what the comparison between A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths is like, but where does the GCSE Further Maths fit in?

GCSE Further Maths is a window into the world of A-Level whilst you’re still in school. It gives you an insight into what it would be like to study A-Level Maths, and accompanies normal GCSE Maths. 

In my opinion, all of the topics you cover in the first year of A-Level Maths, you will have done during GCSE Further Maths – making Year 12 a breeze for A-Level Maths. However, very little of the content in A-Level Further Maths is covered in GCSE Further Maths – with the exception of matrices. 

It’s given as an option to some students because of their ability in GCSE Maths. Students that are particularly adept in the basic concepts of GCSE Maths are given the chance to attempt something harder.

This can be helpful to students looking to maths in college, as they can see what it will be like earlier. This therefore gives them longer to make a decision based on experience.

In addition, A-Level Maths will be easier for them. They will have already skimmed over some of the key topics in the course.

Not many schools offer GCSE Further Maths though, so count yourself lucky if yours does.

In terms of difficulty compared to A-Level Further Maths, GSCE Further Maths is much easier.  

Not only is the content much easier, but it’s also all spoon fed to you. In A-Level Further Maths, you’re expected to do a lot more independent work to build up your understanding. 

This is the same for all A-Levels in fact. Once you reach college, you’re expected to do a lot more independent work.

The independency of A-Level Further Maths naturally makes it harder. Not only are you expected to learn and keep up with the content, but you’re also expected to learn to study by yourself to a much greater extent.

The comparison between these two subjects is similar to the comparison between A-Level Maths and GCSE Maths. For more info on that, make sure to check out the article on their comparison.

How Independent Do You Have To Be When Studying A-Level Further Maths?

A-Level Maths Independence Compared To A-Level Further Maths Independence

If you took the Further Maths GCSE, you’ll understand how difficult it was. It only gets harder at A-Level, so how much work do you need to do on your own?

During your A-Level Further Maths lessons, you will very often find yourself sitting there, not knowing what the hell is going on. The lesson will continue and you may well have not even showed up. In these situations, you HAVE to go home and learn it for yourself. If you do not, you will not believe how quickly you will fall behind.

The reason you will fall behind so quickly is because every lesson of A-Level Further Maths assumes you know all the content in the syllabus that came before it. Therefore, to understand new topics, you will need to understand old topics. This aspect of A-Level Further Maths makes it massively dependent on your own revision independency.

The reason A-Level Maths does not have a “build on old knowledge” style syllabus like A-Level Further Maths, is because the A-Level Maths syllabus is constantly relying on your GCSE Maths knowledge – not your prior A-Level Maths lesson knowledge.

The number of hours you spend in class for A-Level Further Maths is the number of hours you’re expected to study independently. 

And, since you spend four and a half hours in lesson every week for A-Level Further Maths, that’s how much independent study you need to do.

This expectation changes with the college you go to of course. Different colleges have different plans that work for their students, so make sure you know what your recommendation is.

The amount of independency can and will depend on you as well. If you’re a fast learner, you won’t need as much time for your independent studies.

If you’re a slow learner, then your independent study time will need to be longer. You’ll need more time to process everything that you need for your exams.

If you’re worrying that A-Levels (especially A-Level Further Maths) are too independent for you, don’t worry. There is lots of support available to make your life easier.

For example, other students in your course are going through the same thing as you. If you need some help, the chances are that there’s another students who understands the content better than you and can help. 

There are also loads of textbooks that you can use to your advantage, too. Even though you’ll be studying on your own, you’ll at least have a guide you can use.

Just make sure that they’re exam board approved! If they aren’t, you might find yourself studying things that aren’t in your exam.

What Are A-Level Further Maths Exams Like?

A-Level or GCSE Exam Hall Room

A-Level Further Maths exams are an hour and a half long, and they are full of the content you learned during your two years of college.

You will take different exams at the end of Year 12 based on your A-Level Further Maths content choices.

These exams make up your final A-Level Further Maths grade. The better you do in these exams, the better your grade will come out.

The exam questions are very, VERY hard. Unless you do the proper revision, you’ll find yourself with a U at the end of your exams.

The questions are also a lot longer compared to GCSE and some A-Level Maths exam questions. Because of the depth of content you need to know, the questions have to be more in depth too.

You have mock exams for A-Level Further Maths exams, too. The mock exams are great because they show you what you need to improve on before the real thing.

In many ways, they’re similar to GCSE exams. They are sat in silence, mostly by the same exam boards, and they’re at the end of the course.

But they are also very, very different.

The exams are a lot harder than your average GCSE. We know that A-Levels are a step up from GCSE anyway, but Further Maths is a step up from other A-Levels!

The difference between A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths is in the difficulty – A-Level Further Maths exams are extremely hard. That’s not to say that A-Level Maths exams aren’t, because they most certainly are, it’s just that A-Level Further Maths is a whole new level.

What Textbooks Do You Need For A-Level Further Maths?

A-Level Further Maths TextbooksI don’t think I need to tell you that you can’t use your GCSE Maths textbooks, when studying A-Level Further Maths… With that being said, what A-Level Further Maths textbooks should you use?

Firstly, there are two types of A-Level textbooks you should get if you want the best chances of doing well in A-Level Further Maths. These two types are: Revision Guides and Classroom Textbooks.

Revision guides don’t really explain concepts in detail, they are more used for recapping content you already know. Hence the name, revision guides – they are used for revision, not for learning.

When you start revising for A-Level Further Maths, your revision guide will be your revision bible. Providing you get the right one, your revision guide can help you SO much. So, which revision guide should you get for A-Level Further Maths?

You have to make sure that your revision guide is written for your exam board! So below are my revision guide recommendations for each exam board:

I highly recommend you get the ones above as they cover Year 1 and Year 2 A-Level Further Maths pure content.

In direct contrast, class textbooks do explain concepts in massive detail. Class textbooks are normally used for learning concepts that you didn’t understand in class. Therefore, they can also be extremely helpful during the 2 year learning period for A-Level Further Maths.

Once again, you have to make sure that you get the right class textbook for your exam board. Below are three lists (for each exam board) and you need to get every textbook under your exam board list. Unless of course you are happy going without classroom textbooks, but they really do help.

Classroom Textbooks For Edexcel A-Level Further Maths (Need All Three):

Classroom Textbooks For AQA A-Level Further Maths (Need Both):

Disclaimer: If you are trying to spend as little as possible, the classroom textbooks are not absolutely essential, they’re just really helpful. So if you are on a budget, just get the revision guides as they are the most helpful out of the two types of textbook by far.

What Are The Minimum Requirements For You To Study A-Level Further Maths?

A-Level Further Maths Minimum Requirements

Requirements to take the A-Level Maths course can be hard enough to reach. How do A-Level Further Maths requirements compare?

It can depend on the college you want to go to. Having said this, the generic grade you need in GCSE Maths to study A-Level Furher Maths is a 7.

This is higher than the requirement for A-Level Maths, where you only need a 6 at GCSE. The reason for this is that A-Level Further Maths is so much harder than normal A-Level Maths!

Of course, as I’ve already said, different colleges may have different entry requirements for the course. Make sure to check what they are before you apply.

Moving on from physical achievement requirements, I’m going to mention some other things you might need.

More than anything, you’ll need a good head for maths. You’ll need to be adept with the theories and concepts from GCSE, and you’ll need to be a fast learner too. 

You’ll need to be a fast learner to keep up with the fast pace of the course. At A-Level, you go through about 1 topic every week. 

This isn’t because they want you to fail – you get independent study time to make sure that you retain all the information you’re taught. 

If you’re applying for A-Level Further Maths, bear in mind that it’s commonly known as the hardest A-Level. Unless you’re super confident with maths, I wouldn’t recommend it! 

How Many Students Take A-Level Further Maths?

A-Level Further Maths Library

Not very many students progress to A-Levels after GCSEs, actually. Only a small fraction of students decide or are able to take A-Levels after GCSEs!

This is because A-Levels are for the top level students. Out of everything you can take at college (BTEC, Diploma, etc) A-Levels are considered the hardest. 

Unless you do well in your GCSEs, there’s not much chance that your college will let you do A-Levels. And you want to take A-Levels if you want a successful academic future.

We know that a small percentage of students take A-Levels – but an even smaller percentage of students take A-Level Further Maths.

In 2018, 1.6% of students who took A-Levels decided to take A-Level Further Maths. Therefore, 16,157 students took A-Level Further Maths, whereas, 97,627 students took A-Level Maths.

From this statistic, we can see how A-Level Further Maths really is an exclusive club – only accepting the best. Unless you’ve got a good head for maths, there’s no way you’re taking A-Level Further Maths.

It might not be the students thinking they can’t do it, though. Many students are recommended other A-Levels by their colleges because of the difficulty of the course. 

However, many students decide to take the A-Level anyway due to their aspirations for post-college careers. Many students take A-Level Further Maths because they need it to go onto university, too. 

It turns out that more boys take A-Level Further Maths than girls, too. If you cared…

Only the best student mathematicians from GCSE can take A-Level Further Maths, but if that’s not you, don’t fret. There are always exceptions that can be made, so don’t give up on A-Level Further Maths.

Where Can A-Level Further Maths Take You After College?

A-Level Further Maths Career Prospects

GCSE Maths, A-Level Maths, A-Level Further Maths, it’s all the same. What you really want to know is what you can do with those qualifications!

The answer is, pretty much anything you want. A-Level Further Maths is a great pathway into loads of different options after college.

The most obvious one perhaps is university. A-Level Further Maths is highly desired by even the most prestigious universities. 

If you want to study any courses related to maths at university, then A-Level Further Maths will help you out loads. It will distinguish you from other potential candidates who didn’t take it.

University’s absolutely love (and prefer) students who have taken A-Level Further Maths alongside A-Level Maths.

A-Level Further Maths can get you to other places, too. If you’re looking for an apprenticeship after college in the maths area, A-Level Further Maths will get you there.

As I said before, it will distinguish you from other people who didn’t take the subject. 

This is because A-Level Further Maths, as we know, requires great determination and motivation. Achieving this A-Level shows your employees that you have those qualities. 

And if you want to go straight into work after college, A-Level Further Maths can help with that aswell. Employers look for outstanding employees, and A-Level Further Maths really shows that! 

It’s not just useful for the short-term future after college either. A-Level Further Maths is a great qualification to have throughout your life.

There will be many opportunities that arise in your career, and A-Level Further Maths will help you take advantage of them. It shows others that you’re a hard worker, and this is essential for most areas of life.

Of course, you don’t need A-Level Further Maths for any of these future outcomes. You don’t need it, but it will certainly help.

What Other A-Levels Go Well With A-Level Further Maths Apart From A-Level Maths?

A-Levels That Go Well With A-Level Maths And A-Level Further Maths

We know that A-Level Further Maths is great for getting you into university, depending on what degree you want to take.

If you want to take an English degree, A-Level Further Maths isn’t likely to help you get to that (obviously). Therefore, you need to take A-Levels that are related to your future profession.

You can’t take A-Level Further Maths without taking A-Level Maths, so that’s one down already. In most cases you only need to choose one more (unless you’re taking four A-Levels, that is).

There are lots of A-Levels that go well with maths, and so there’s a wide range to choose from. It’s mostly dependent on what you want to do after college. 

If you want to be a data analyst, then taking A-Level Further Maths with A-Level Economics is a good idea. You’ll develop good number skills, and be able to analyse graphs and data.

However, data analysing is not the only application for A-Level Further Maths. Maths can be seen everywhere in day-to-day life, and there are many jobs that require proficiency in maths. 

For example, a topographical surveyor looks at the arrangement of natural landscapes and analyses their layout. There is lots of maths in this career path, and so A-Level Further Maths can be paired with A-Level Geography, too.

If you wanted to go full out working world, then you could take A-Level Further Maths alongside A-Level Business Studies. These A-Levels go great together if you’re looking to get into top band universities, too.

There are lots of combinations of A-Levels you can take with A-Level Further Maths, so just make sure you choose the right one. If you want to see an extensive list of good A-Level combinations that universities love, check this article out now.

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3 years ago

I liked your article may I get your gmail I still have a lot of questions to ask to you.