We are preparing for our first GCSE Maths exams in three years. Due to the disruption of Covid-19, the current year 11 cohort missed the usual lead in and preparations for GCSE exams, such as intervention programmes in years 9 and 10. Instead, fluctuating teacher and student attendance due to isolation rules, and virtual teaching and learning has put us in a unique scenario.
To avoid the last minute feeling of the past two summer GCSE maths exams arrangements, and following proposals, with wide consultations, there is a plan for 2022 GCSE assessments which covers contingency arrangements for both Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) and examinations.
If exams have to be cancelled in summer 2022, students’ grades will instead be determined by their teachers (TAGs) by collecting evidence (see above links).
If exams are held, students will be given copies of formulae in their exams, in contrast to previous years when they would have had to memorise these.
What can maths departments do to prepare for GCSE Maths 2022 summer exams?
- Regularly check your Awarding Organisation’s page designed specifically to keep you up to date.
These are the relevant links:
Decide foundation and higher students earlier.
Schools use sophisticated tools that simulate student progress flight paths from Key Stage 2 scaled scores to track student progress. Teachers input teacher assessments, then the tool generates many accountability measures including predicted grades. This saves all teachers from having to master the Department of Education accountability document.
Maths departments can use this evaluated data to ensure that students are entered for the correct tier, and follow up on where students don’t seem to be fulfilling their potential. A decision on the correct tier will probably have to be made earlier than usual, because the TAGs rely on consistency with what a student would have done in 2022.
It may be an idea to ensure that the evidence of achievement (TAG) is from the correct tier. You can create a BBC bitesize or other GCSE maths content and resources signpost for students on your website. This will enable and encourage them to have a point of reference for revision, and become independent in their preparation of the exams.
Consider what we can learn from the last summer GCSE Mathematics papers.
Have a read through this blog post, where Jemma Sherwood discusses 2019 Examiners Reports.
Also, it may be helpful to solve the non calculator paper loss of marks issues – make sure that students understand key words such as estimate, and the need to round before the calculation in questions asking for an estimate. In angle calculations, when they are asked to give reasons, the angle fact applied is the reason, so we need to encourage students to write a sentence explaining how they have used the angle fact. It is worth looking at some actual example sentences so students can see that, for example, terms like ‘corresponding’ and ‘alternate’ need to be included and used correctly. You’ll be able to spot more of these areas that need to be addressed from your mock examination evaluations.
Expose students to questions that challenge students’ problem solving and reasoning skills.
OUP textbooks contain applied questions which are great for challenging and extending students understanding. Teaching students how to approach these questions will give the students more confidence in their exams.
Lastly, what about unfamiliar scenarios, when the area of mathematics needed to solve a problem is not immediately obvious, or has not been learnt recently? How do we prepare students to reason and apply maths correctly in these cases?
These resources will provide a good starting point:
- NRICH describes a problem-solving journey
- Total maths has problem solving questions
- Try cross curricular maths questions
There are many other areas that maths departments in a variety of contexts will deem important to consider when preparing for these exams. I would love to discuss these further below. Please join this discussion by leaving a comment or adding further insight.
Eddie has worked in education for over 30 years. He is an accomplished headteacher and mathematics teacher. He is an experienced awarding organisation maths examiner and curriculum developer. Eddie has authored GCSE, iGCSE and GCE maths teaching and learning content for MyMaths and linked these to our textbooks and assessment materials. He achieved fellowship and chartered status with the Institute of Mathematics and its applications.