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Is A-Level Math Compulsory?

A-Level Math Compulsory

A-level is a UK-based advanced-level qualification for students aged between 16-18 years in years 12 and 13. Students take this course in college after their GCSEs; however, the subject isn’t compulsory as you have multiple options to choose from. 

If you do not want to pursue a career in Math, then there is no need to keep studying it until A-Levels. You will get the freedom to choose the subjects you want to study right after you complete your basic education.

In England, even education is not compulsory after GCSEs. So, when you’re done with your GCSEs, opting to study for A-Level is completely optional. Furthermore, if you decide to do A-Level, you can choose the subjects you want to study without any restrictions. 

So, If you want to be a mathematician or pursue a field of study that requires having a mathematics foundation, then A-level math is for you.

The Coursework of A-level Math

A-Level Math involves three exams with different durations with each exam being two hours longer. You can use a calculator for all these parts. The three exams are Pure Math and Applied Math (statistics and mechanics). 

Apart from your basic math knowledge, examiners test your statistics and mechanics capabilities as well in the Applied Math section. These three papers are 100 marks each, making the total exam worth 300 marks.

In the AQA board, the three papers are divided in such a way:

  • Pure Math (Proof, Algebra and Functions, Trigonometry, Exponentials and Logarithms, Sequences and Series, Coordinate Geometry, Differentiation, Integration, Numerical Methods, Vectors)
  • Pure Math and Statistics (Statistical Sampling, Data Presentation and Interpretation, Probability, Statistical Distributions, Statistical Hypothesis Testing)
  • Pure Math and Mechanics (Quantities and Units in Mechanics, Kinematics, Forces and Newton’s Laws, Moments)

In the Edexcel board, the three papers are divided as follows:

  • 2 Pure Math Exams
  • 1 Applied Math Exam

The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, said in 2023 that math would be mandatory for all children up to the age of eighteen. This does not, however, imply that A-level mathematics will become compulsory.

Entry-level Requirements

The specific prerequisites for A-level maths differ depending on the sixth form or college you're considering. Upon completing your GCSEs, you may opt to continue your education at your current school (if it offers a sixth form or college) or apply to another institution.

What is the Sixth Form?

Sixth form is the final two years of secondary education in the UK for students aged 16 to 18.

Generally, you'll likely need to have achieved a grade of 4 or above in GCSE Maths to pass. However, these requirements can vary among schools. For instance, students needed to attain a grade 6 or higher in GCSE Maths at some schools to qualify for A-Level Maths.

Additionally, some schools offer Further Maths A-Level, which typically demands higher entry requirements compared to A-Level Maths, such as a grade 7 or above in GCSE Maths.

While it's technically feasible to study A-level maths without having passed GCSE Maths, it's highly unlikely. You cannot pass the advanced Math taught in the A-Levels course if you have not already passed its basics in the GCSE exam. 

Relevant Reading: Tips to Improve Mathematical Skills

Assessment of A-Levels

The primary form of assessment for A Levels involves written examinations, which occur at the end of the two-year study period. 

Grades range from A* to E, with a grade of U indicating that the minimum standard still needs to be met. To attain an E, students must achieve a minimum of 40%, while a D requires 50%, and a C necessitates 60%, and so forth. Any student averaging 80% across all modules will be awarded an A*.

Assessment of A Levels

If a student fails, they are required to retake the entire exam if they want to continue their studies. However, it's important to note that students have the opportunity to retake their A Levels as many times as needed.

Benefits of taking A-level Math

If you’re confused as to taking A-level math or not, here are a few benefits that you should look into:

Benefits of taking A-level Math

1. Solid Grounding in Math

Studying A-Level Mathematics provides students with a proper understanding of core mathematical principles. Topics covered include calculus, algebra, statistics, and mechanics. It makes sure students develop a strong foundation that is applicable across different disciplines and real-world contexts.

2. Pathway to STEM Fields

A-level mathematics is often a prerequisite for students aspiring to pursue STEM careers, including engineering, computer science, physics, and related fields at university. 

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The STEM careers involve data analysis, project engineering, web development, clinical research, quality control analysis and many more. 

Universities and employers alike consider A-Level Mathematics as an indicator of a student's capacity and whether they can understand complex mathematical concepts or not. 

3. Enhancing Problem-Solving Abilities

A-level mathematics prioritizes problem-solving, critical thinking, and logical reasoning skills as a result of its advanced course contents. These skills extend beyond mathematics and can be used in diverse fields and everyday situations. 

Students learn systematic approaches and problem-solving abilities to tackle challenging problems after studying the thorough course of math. These abilities are a valuable asset in the growing field of technology.

4. Sharpened Analytical Thinking

A-level mathematics often involves abstract thinking and the ability to analyze patterns and data. This analytical mindset is required across domains, from scientific inquiry to business decision-making. It equips students to scrutinize information critically and make well-informed decisions according to the field they are in.

5. Broadened Career Prospects

Even beyond STEM fields, A-level mathematics can significantly broaden a student's career prospects. It showcases intellectual rigor and perseverance and these traits are highly valued in numerous professional domains.

Graduates with a strong mathematical background typically find it easier to navigate new challenges and acquire new skills. It gives them a competitive edge in a dynamic job market.

6. Versatility

Other than career opportunities, studying A-level math makes one a versatile human being in terms of knowledge and understanding. Practicing common and advanced math problems daily exercises your brain and improves memory.

These are some of the soft skills that will help you in the long term be it in any career or personal goal you want to achieve. 

7. University Acceptance

A-Level Mathematics holds high esteem among universities globally. Excelling in A-level mathematics often grants students a variety of options when selecting their preferred degree programs and can set them apart in competitive university admissions processes.

Additional Help for A-Level Math

  1. Make sure that you've covered all the content specified for the version of the AS/A level exam you're preparing for, whether it's from AQA, Edexcel, or OCR.
  2. Create a revision plan that aligns with your available time and capabilities. It's better to set achievable targets rather than overly ambitious ones that may lead to frustration.
  3. Make an effort to practice solving past exam papers. This will familiarize you with the format of the exam and help you assess your preparation.
  4. During the initial stages of revision, use your notes as a reference. As the exams draw nearer, aim to complete practice papers under timed conditions and without relying on your notes.
  5. After completing a past paper, carefully review the mark scheme and pay close attention to the criteria for awarding marks.
  6. Refer to the examiner's reports for insights into common mistakes made by candidates.
  7. Don't hesitate to seek assistance from a teacher or a peer if you encounter difficulties.
  8. If you want extra help, take online or private classes in Mathematics from an esteemed institution.
  9. For topics where you're facing challenges, revise your topics by practicing additional questions from your textbook.


1. Is Math compulsory in the UK?

Math is compulsory in the UK for up to 16 years of age. Students are expected to leave high school with basic Math and fundamental arithmetic skills. However, after that, there are no restrictions to study a certain subject or not.

2. Is A-Levels compulsory in the UK?

A-Levels are optional in the UK. Students are free to choose whether they want to pursue higher education. Only till GCSE, education is compulsory. Many students drop out after that, some achieve higher education, and some redirect their career paths and go into skill-based jobs.

3. Is A-levels more difficult than GCSEs?

A-levels are more challenging than GCSEs. It is because of the course and conceptual subjects being taught. The examinations are also more complex and strict than GCSEs.

4. Which country is known as the top country for Math?

Singapore is the smartest country in the world, followed by South Korea and Hong Kong. These countries are termed smart based on their contributions to Math and Science.

Final Words

We have provided some insights into how A-level Math isn’t compulsory, but you can still pursue it further if you want to build a career in mathematics.

It’s a complicated field of study requiring hard work and untiring effort, but achieving basic mathematical skills can take you a long way in your personal and professional careers.

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