Looking back in hindsight at my own GCSE options, there are some subjects that I really wish I hadn’t taken and other ones that I wish I had. However, without having experienced these studying these subjects at GCSE level, it can be difficult for you to figure out what is best for you to take based on what you will enjoy, what you’re going to need in the future and a range of other criteria.
Having taken GCSE Further Maths, I feel that this subject is one of the most difficult to actually figure out if it will be a good fit simply due to its nature as another maths GCSE. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will get a better idea about whether GCSE Further Maths is for you or not.
In short, deciding whether GCSE Further Maths is worth it will depend on you and if GCSE Further Maths will be a subject that you enjoy and feel that you benefit from. In terms of helping you in future studies, such as A-Level Maths or A-Level Further Maths, GCSE Further Maths isn’t entirely worth it as even if it introduces you to some of the more advanced concepts that are in further study, you will still need to learn these at a more advanced level, just like students who don’t do GCSE Further Maths will.
Continue reading to learn more about the pros and cons of GCSE Further Maths to see if it would be right for you. This article will tell you about what’s involved in GCSE Further Maths as well as more about its potential benefits for further studies.
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What is involved in GCSE Further Maths?
One of the main ways that something may be deemed as “worth it” for you, is if the thing itself is beneficial to you. By this, I mean ignoring any future benefits it may give you or how it can help with other things.
In the case of GCSE Further Maths, this means ignoring how it may help with other subjects you study or for A-Levels, and instead focusing on if it’s something that you will enjoy and that you can handle. To find out if this is the case, you first need to learn a little bit more about GCSE Further Maths.
GCSE Further Maths, depending on the exam board, may not technically be a GCSE at all. While Pearson Edexcel and CCEA do offer it as a GCSE, both AQA and WJEC offer it as a level 2 certificate.
Regardless of what it’s called, all of these qualifications are relatively similar in that they all contain topics that aren’t taught in the regular GCSE Maths curriculum and include slightly simpler versions of what is included in the A-Level Maths curriculum. To learn more about what is covered in each of the exam board, check out the following subsections.
What is AQA GCSE Further Maths like?
The AQA Level 2 Certificate in Further Maths covers the topics number, algebra, coordinate geometry, calculus, matrix transformations and geometry. In this qualification, the maths that students would generally be unfamiliar with include algebraic proofs, matrices, differentiation and geometric proofs. To learn more about this, check out this guide by AQA.
What is Pearson Edexcel GCSE Further Maths like?
The Pearson Edexcel IGCSE Further Maths covers the topics of number, algebra and calculus and geometry and trigonometry. Included in this are topics that students would generally be unfamiliar with, such as logarithmic functions, the use of the ∑ notation, the binomial series and differentiation. To learn more about this, check out this guide by Pearson Edexcel.
What is WJEC GCSE Further Maths like?
The WJEC Level 2 Certificate in Additional Maths covers the topics algebra, coordinate geometry, mensuration, calculus and trigonometry. Within these topics, the areas of maths that students are likely to be unfamiliar with include algebraic proofs, differentiation, integration, factor theorem and remainder theorem. To learn more about this, check out this guide by WJEC.
What is CCEA GCSE Further Maths like?
The CCEA GCSE Further Maths covers the topics pure maths, mechanics, statistics and discrete and decision mathematics. Unlike the other qualifications, students won’t be tested on all of these topics as they will only need to do pure maths and another 2 of the other topics.
Within these topics, students are likely to be unfamiliar with mathematical areas, such as differentiation, logarithms, matrices, integration, kinematics, binomial distribution, normal distribution and bivariate analysis. To learn more about this, check out this guide by CCEA.
Does GCSE Further Maths help with regular GCSE Maths?
As mentioned above, in each of the GCSE Further Maths qualifications, students are taught additional topics that aren’t on the regular GCSE Maths specification. Due to the fact that what is taught isn’t entirely the same, how much GCSE Further Maths can help with regular GCSE Maths can be quite limited.
However, for some of what is taught in GCSE Maths and GCSE Further Maths there are some areas of overlap. As the GCSE Further Maths topics tend to build on the GCSE Maths topics, it is possible that GCSE Further Maths can help you to better understand the GCSE Maths topics that overlap into GCSE Further Maths.
Also, GCSE Further Maths can help you to develop your general mathematical skills due to being exposed to more advanced content. Due to this, it could help to make the regular GCSE Maths a bit easier as you have more advanced practice.
However, this is from my personal experience, so you may find that GCSE Further Maths does help with regular GCSE Maths in different ways or maybe even that it doesn’t help at all.
Does GCSE Further Maths help with A-Level Maths?
While it won’t make that much difference in the long run, GCSE Further Maths can somewhat help with A-Level Maths. This is because several of the topics in GCSE Further Maths are simpler forms of A-Level Maths topics. In this way, GCSE Further Maths can make A-Level Maths a little bit easier as some of the concepts will already be familiar to you.
For example, in A-Level Maths, student will generally study topics, such as differentiation, integration, logarithms, binomial distribution, kinematics and the use of the ∑ (sigma) notation for sequences. All of these topics are included in at least one of the exam board’s GCSE Further Maths qualifications, showing that GCSE Further Maths may be able to help with A-Level Maths as it introduces you to these concepts.
However, as already mentioned, at GCSE level, these are much simpler forms. This means that while it may help you slightly, it is unlikely to change very much in the long run as you will still need to learn them at this more advanced level.
In this way, I would say that taking GCSE Further Maths isn’t exactly worth it just to help you in A-Level Maths as not everyone that does A-Level Maths would even have the opportunity to do GCSE Further Maths. This also means that even without having seen these mathematical concepts before in GCSE Further Maths, students will still be able to access the A-Level Maths course.
Does GCSE Further Maths help with A-Level Further Maths?
Realistically, GCSE Further Maths won’t help you very much with A-Level Further Maths. This is because they are vastly different with very little of the A-Level Further Maths content being covered in the GCSE and even these are at a much easier level.
For example, A-Level Further Maths covers topics, such as complex numbers, Argand diagrams, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, polar coordinates, hyperbolic functions, De Moivre’s theorem, damped oscillations and Boolean algebra. These topics are generally not studied in GCSE Further Maths and if they are, it is at a much lower level and so clearly, GCSE Further Maths doesn’t help much at all for A-Level Further Maths.
Is GCSE Further Maths hard?
Deciding whether any GCSE is definitely hard or definitely not can be incredibly difficult as every student has their own idea of what makes one subject hard and what makes another easy. Despite this, using a subject’s difficulty to help you decide if it’s worth it can be a great idea, whether you’re the kind of person who wants to make their life a bit easier or if you’re the kind of person that craves the challenge of a hard GCSE subject.
GCSE Further Maths is generally considered to be one of the hardest GCSE subjects. In fact, for 2023, Think Student have ranked it as the 6th hardest GCSE subject based on a poll that asked real students what they considered to be the hardest GCSE. As 9.79% of the poll voted it as the hardest GCSE subject, it seems pretty safe to say that yes, GCSE Further Maths is one of the hardest GCSE subjects.
Bearing in mind that the proportion of students who take GCSE Further Maths in comparison to other subjects is much less and so less students would be familiar with it to choose as one of the hardest GCSEs, it suggests that GCSE Further Maths may even be more difficult than that ranking. To learn more about the ranking of the hardest GCSE subjects for 2023, check out this Think Student article.
Also, from my personal experience, I found that GCSE Further Maths was pretty difficult. This was particularly compared to some of my other subjects.
However, compared to some of the regular GCSE Maths topics, I found some of the GCSE Further Maths topics a bit easier. Although, to be fair, this might have been more because I found them a little bit more interesting and possibly even because they were taught more thoroughly due to having a higher level of difficulty.
Should you choose GCSE Further Maths?
The best way to consider if GCSE Further Maths is worth it is to consider the pros and cons of taking it and to figure out if it would be a good fit for you.
In my case, I didn’t get to choose whether or not to do GCSE Further Maths as at my school everyone in the top set had to take it. However, if I did get the option, there are several specific things that I would consider before making the decision, which you can learn about in the following sections.
For more tips on things to consider when choosing your GCSE options, check out this Think Student article. You can also look at this Think Student article to learn more about the process of choosing your GCSE options.
Consider your strengths when deciding if you should take GCSE Further Maths
First of all, whether you should do GCSE Further Maths depends on your strengths. Obviously, if maths is not your strong point and if you’re struggling with the regular GCSE Maths or regular maths content if you’ve not started GCSEs yet then it won’t be a good idea to do GCSE Further Maths.
In the same way, if you’re really good at maths and you’re excelling in the regular GCSE or are predicted to be then doing GCSE Further Maths can be a good idea for one of your options or for an extra GCSE, depending on how your school offers it. This is especially as it is more likely to pay off and actually be “worth it”.
Consider if taking GCSE Further Maths is more important than other subjects you want to take
Also, how your school offers GCSE Further Maths should factor into your decision. If GCSE Further Maths would be one of your GCSE options, then you need to factor in what else you want to take and if GCSE Further Maths is high enough on your priority list.
This may also have to do with the number of options you get as from what I’ve seen schools often let students pick between 3 and 5 options and so this may also influence how much you want to take it.
Consider the GCSE Further Maths workload
If your school offers GCSE Further Maths as an extra, which you study alongside the regular GCSE Maths, you will also need to consider the other subjects you have and the workload of these. In this case, you will need to decide if you will be able to take on studying for another GCSE or if it will be too much.
Consider what you enjoy when deciding if you should take GCSE Further Maths
You should also think about what you enjoy. Regardless of how good you are at maths, there’s no point taking an extra GCSE in maths if you don’t enjoy it. This is because you are more likely to be bored and disinterested while doing it and so you might as well do a different GCSE or simply save yourself the hassle of having to do an extra GCSE.