Top tips to help you achieve an A grade in A level Maths

Everyone knows that Maths is a tough A level, but don’t despair if you’ve chosen it. You can certainly transform your grade into an A with the right approach. Simply, cracking the code of Maths at A level requires a solid understanding of key concepts, effective problem-solving techniques, quality revision skills, and strategic exam preparation. So, let’s get started.

Whether you’re a student looking to improve your grades or a parent seeking guidance for your child, this article provides the recipe for success. We will break down the following:

Content:

Want to skip ahead to success? Get in touch with one of our expert A level Maths tutors who can guide you to your dream grade. We have an incredible track record of success; 98% of our students achieve their predicted school grades whilst 75% exceed them. In fact, 35% of our students achieve an A* at A level, which is over 4x the national average!

You can also check out our previous article on A levels in 2024.

What to expect: Understanding the A level Maths curriculum

To excel in A level Maths, it’s essential to understand the curriculum and identify the key topics and concepts that require skill. Your specific curriculum will depend on your exam board, so ensure that you check this!

Check out the table below for an overview of the A level Maths curriculum. As you can see, the exam boards cover the same topics as each other, more or less. Remember, curriculums can vary slightly from year to year so always double-check according to your A level date.

Exam boardCurriculum
AQA
  • Mathematical argument, language and proof 
  • Mathematical problem solving 
  • Mathematical modelling 
  • Proof 
  • Algebra and functions
  • Coordinate geometry in the (x,y) plane 
  • Sequences and series 
  • Trigonometry 
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Differentiation 
  • Integration 
  • Numerical methods 
  • Vectors 
  • Statistical sampling
  • Data presentation and interpretation 
  • Probability 
  • Statistical distributions 
  • Statistical hypothesis testing 
  • Quantities and units in mechanics
  • Kinematics 
  • Forces and Newton’s laws 
  • Moments
Pearson Edexcel
  • Proof
  • Algebra and functions
  • Coordinate the geometry in the (x,y) plane
  • Sequences and series
  • Trigonometry
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Differentiation
  • Integration
  • Numerical methods
  • Vectors
  • Statistical sampling
  • Data presentation and interpretation
  • Probability 
  • Statistical distributions
  • Statistical hypothesis testing
  • Quantities and units in mechanics
  • Kinematics
  • Forces and Newton’s law
  • Moments
OCR
  • Proof
  • Algebra and functions
  • Coordinate geometry in the x-y plane
  • Sequences and series
  • Trigonometry
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Differentiation
  • Integration
  • Numerical methods
  • Vectors
  • Statistical sampling
  • Data presentation and interpretation
  • Probability
  • Statistical distributions
  • Statistical hypothesis testing
  • Quantities and units in mechanics
  • Kinematics
  • Forces and Newton’s laws
  • Moments

Need help understanding your curriculum for A level Maths? Our expert Maths tutors can clarify the topics covered, as well as break them down in an easy-to-understand way. From revision tips to practice tests, we’ve got your back.

Understanding the A level Maths exam format 

For A level Maths, you will take 3 exam papers. The information will differ slightly depending on your exam board. Also, be aware that precise specifications can change from year to year so always check. 

See the table below:

Exam boardPaper 1Paper 2Paper 3
AQAAny content from:

  • Proof
  • Algebra and functions
  • Coordinate geometry
  • Sequences and series
  • Trigonometry
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Differentiation
  • Integration
  • Numerical methods
Any content from paper 1 and content from:

  • Vectors
  • Quantities and units in mechanics
  • Kinematics
  • Forces and Newton’s laws
  • Moments 
Any content from paper 1 and content from:

  •  Statistical sampling
  • L: Data presentation and Interpretation
  • M: Probability
  • N: Statistical distributions
  • O: Statistical hypothesis testing 
OCRAny content from:

  • Proof
  • Algebra and functions
  • Coordinate geometry in the x-y plane
  • Sequences and series
  • Trigonometry
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Differentiation
  • Integration
  • Numerical methods
  • Vectors
Any content from paper 1 and content from:

  • Statistical sampling
  • Data presentation and interpretation
  • Probability
  • Statistical distributions
  • Statistical hypothesis testing 
Any content from paper 1 and content from:

  • Quantities and units in mechanics
  • Kinematics
  • Forces and Newton’s laws
  • Moments
Pearson EdexcelAny content from:

  • Algebra and functions
  • Coordinate geometry in the (x, y) plane
  • Sequences and series
  • Trigonometry
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Differentiation 
  • Integration
  • Numerical methods
  • Vectors 
Any content from:

  • Algebra and functions
  • Coordinate geometry in the (x, y) plane
  • Sequences and series
  • Trigonometry
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Differentiation 
  • Integration
  • Numerical methods
  • Vectors
Any content from:

  • Statistical sampling
  • Data presentation and interpretation
  • Probability
  • Statistical distributions
  • Statistical hypothesis testing
  • Quantities and units in mechanics
  • Kinematics
  • Forces and Newton’s laws
  • Moments

For each of the papers above, no matter the exam board, the following is accurate:

  • This is a written exam.
  • It lasts 2 hours. 
  • It is marked out of 100. 
  • It contributes to 33⅓ % of your Maths A level.
  • There is a mix of question styles, from short, single-mark questions to multi-step problems.

You should also note that these papers are for A level exams in year 13. However, you might have to take AS Maths papers in year 12 as well. This will depend on your school and you should check with your Maths teacher as soon as possible so that you know what to expect.  

Need help to understand your exam format for A level Maths? Our expert Maths tutors can clarify the different papers and topics, as well as prepare for the exams. Why not work with our dedicated team to get the best scores possible?

Is A level Maths harder or easier than GCSE Maths?

A level Maths is notably more challenging than GCSE Maths. Many students describe the move from GCSE Maths to A level as a jump, so this is something to prepare for.

A level Maths tackles more topics than GCSE Maths, and these are also more advanced. As for the subjects that are the same as GCSE, students must delve further into them than in A level. The initial year of A level Maths shares similarities with GCSE Maths in difficulty, with a notable increase in complexity occurring in the second year.

You should note that success in A level Maths is demanding without a solid GCSE Maths foundation, requiring at least a grade 6 (B). Need help catching up, improving your GCSE Maths grade or retaking? We have excellent GCSE and retake tutors who know exactly how to help you.

Understanding grades: How many marks do you need to get an A or A* in A level Maths?

Each exam board requires a different amount of marks for each grade boundary. Do not assume that it’s easier to get an A* or A with one exam board than another due to lower grade boundaries, as each exam board has its own mark scheme. 

See how many marks you need to reach your goal:

Exam boardA*A
AQA248201
Pearson Edexcel244196
OCR209161

Do you need help understanding grade boundaries or what your personal goal should be? Would you like an an expert to guide you through your A level in Maths? Do you want to get an A or A*? You’ve come to the right place. 

Here at The Profs, top grades are our forte. That’s why 35% of our students achieve an A* at A level, which is over 4x the national average! Talk to us to get things started.

Identifying key concepts and topics for Mastering A level Maths

Achieving an A-A* in A level Mathematics requires a comprehensive grasp of diverse mathematical concepts and techniques, like algebra, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, and statistics. So, you should learn how to utilise mathematical tools like graphing calculators and computer software.

It’s important not to neglect the basics as they are fundamental. Have you got a good grasp of BODMAS and PEMDAS? These are essential for accurate calculations! 

You can strengthen your foundational knowledge through resources like online courses, completing them within a week or two. This solid foundation will address any gaps in your basic understanding.

A-grade students should aim to have proficiency in the following areas:

  • Surds & Indices.
  • Quadratics.
  • Inequalities.
  • Sketching Curves.
  • Coordinate Geometry.

These concepts play a crucial role in tackling the most intricate problems. In challenging exam questions, examination boards often incorporate these elements, recognising that students may encounter difficulties in their application during examinations, despite prior coverage.

Develop expertise in integration; this subject often distinguishes A* students. With numerous methods available, selecting the appropriate integration method can be challenging and time-consuming. Allocate dedicated revision time to master integration, focusing on mixed exercises in textbooks to enhance your understanding.

If you commit yourself to knowing all the key concepts inside and out, you will undoubtedly improve your grade. Again, our expert Maths tutors are here to assist you every step of the way. We have tried and tested methods of success at the ready. 

Utilising effective learning techniques for A level Maths

Memory is important for all A level subjects. For Maths, it’s important to remember theories, rules and calculation methods. However, the key to succeeding in Maths is understanding and application. This can be pretty tricky, but the best way to harness this is through active learning and effective study techniques. 

Here are our tips:

  • Review every lesson: Take notes in your lessons. Try to regularly look over your notes and try some of the questions. The main focus is how to solve the problems. You should also frequently set questions to review in a couple of months. 
  • Utilise resources: Use the A level Maths textbook recommended by your teacher, and remember, you can always ask for them to recommend some more. Also, YouTube provides detailed explanations, sometimes even offering breakdowns of exam papers and methods for tackling various questions. You can also find lots of question banks online, enriching your understanding and preparation. Learn how to use math apps and websites, like Wolfram MathWorld and GMAT Club.
  • Practise past papers: Your exam board will have past papers that you can practise, and it’s even worth your time to practise papers from other exam boards as it can expand your comprehension and there’s often overlap (however, statistics are more misaligned so you might want to steer clear of outside past papers for this). You should ask your teacher/s to mark these for you and give you feedback. The best way to learn is through your mistakes! Disclaimer: save full past papers until you’ve finished studying the curriculum as these are limited.
  • Talk to students who achieved your goal grade: An A-A* grade Maths student can provide invaluable insights into the mindset and dedication required for top grades. You can ask anyone you know for their intel, including your peers with higher predicted grades. Additionally, numerous former A level Maths students have generously shared their guidance on YouTube, including those that have gone on to receive offers from top universities.
  • Build a revision timetable: Create a revision timetable incorporating all of your A level subjects so that you can balance your time between them. Ensure that you carve out time to cover all topics included in your Maths A level, including revision tasks as well as practice tasks. You might want to leave yourself extra time for the topics you struggle with. Remember, adaptability is important – be prepared to amend your timetable if necessary. 
  • Speak up in class: Ask your teacher or peer for help if you’re struggling to grasp something or would like to clarify a concept. There’s no such thing as ‘silly questions’; don’t let a lack of confidence sabotage your understanding! Put up your hand and get the most out of your classes.

If you employ these effective learning techniques, you will undoubtedly improve your grade. Again, our expert Maths tutors are here to assist you every step of the way. We have tried and tested methods of success at the ready. 

Strategies for improving your performance in A level Maths

Continuous practice is essential to improve your mathematics skills. However, how you practice is of utmost importance as it dictates whether you’re actually improving your performance. Four important factors to enforce in your practice are:

Understanding underlying concepts

Grasping the underlying logic behind each step is crucial to A level Maths. Hence, examiners plant challenging questions aimed to expose those who merely memorise techniques. If the rationale behind a concept isn’t clear, tackling complex questions becomes challenging!

When studying a topic, persist with questions until you’re satisfied with the explanation and truly comprehend it. This approach ensures that, in exams, when faced with a more intricate application of a concept, your understanding of why a technique is used empowers you to address the question effectively.

With areas of Maths you’re confident in, be sure this confidence is guided by a thorough understanding, rather than an ability to go through the expected steps.

When it comes to learning new things, you can relate them to what you already grasp. If you’re being taught about differential equations and you don’t quite get it, you might be able to understand part of it through Newton’s second law e.g. the first differential is the force related to drag (because that is related to speed) and the second differential is just acceleration etc. 

So, try turning theories into real-world examples to work through what you would intuitively expect, before putting it back into Maths.

Learning how to teach

Sign up to tutor Maths to your peers or host revision classes. If you can’t, ask a friend or family member if you can teach them certain concepts.  

Even if you don’t fully understand something, if you try and explain it to someone that’ll really help you to process how it works. When you practice by teaching, you help yourself to understand concepts better. A good rule of thumb is that if you understand concepts well enough to explain them, you understand them well enough to do them!

Confronting the questions you hate

When faced with a challenging question during your study session, don’t just move on – confront it head-on. 

First, pinpoint the specific A level Maths topic the question relates to. Search your textbook for foundational questions on that topic. Feel free to expand your understanding through other platforms, such as YouTube, where you can find insightful videos. 

Once you feel more proficient, engage in targeted practice with exam questions focused on that particular topic to achieve fluency. Strive for mastery, not just correctness. 

Finally, revisit the initial challenging question armed with your enhanced knowledge, and watch it become more manageable.

Identifying mistakes and weak areas for improvement

Obviously, you should test yourself from time to time on concepts you can do well. However, your main focus should be on whatever you struggle with.

Recognising your weak spots is a strategic move as it allows you to address them well before the exams loom. Look at the syllabus and focus on areas that you can’t understand or perform very well. 

We all have topics that seem to elude our understanding more than others. When you come across such challenging areas, make a mental note and allocate extra study time to delve into the intricacies. Dive into more practice questions specifically tailored to these stumbling blocks – this targeted approach not only builds competence but bolsters your confidence, ensuring you’re well-prepared to conquer those troublesome topics when the exam day arrives.

Do you want to get an A or A* in your Maths A level? You’ve come to the right place. Here at The Profs, top grades are our forte. That’s why 35% of our students achieve an A* at A level, which is over 4x the national average! Talk to us to get things started.

Exam techniques and strategies

Firstly, perfecting time management is key. To refine this skill, consider practising with past papers under timed conditions. This will not only enhance your efficiency but also ensure you navigate through questions seamlessly, leaving ample time for tackling the more intricate ones targeted at A* students.

Secondly, some exam questions specifically challenge A* students, demanding strategic time allocation. Practising past papers is a valuable method to hone your time management skills, allowing you to navigate through the paper efficiently. 

Recognising when to move on from a challenging question is vital. If you find yourself in a repetitive cycle without progress, you should swiftly shift your focus and prevent unnecessary time depletion. You can always circle back to the tricky questions later if you have time at the end. 

When it comes to difficult questions, practise rephrasing them. For instance, if a question pops up on decimals and this is a weak area of yours, rephrase it using fractions. 

Similarly, you might be asked a question on probability, and this is not your forte, whilst ratios are. You could rephrase the probability question as a ratio question. Just remember to flip the question back to its original format at the end when you answer!

Finally, work on your fluency by smashing past papers and dissecting mark schemes. Train your brain to think like an examiner, anticipating what they’re after. It’s not just about answers; show your work and make it crystal clear. Precision is your best mate, with accuracy over speed.

Allow one of our dedicated Maths tutors to walk you through Maths A level exam techniques and strategies. We can identify your weaknesses and strengths, and set you on a path to secure your A-A*!

Benefit from our expert guidance in A level Maths

If you’d like to achieve an A or A* in A level Maths, you can reach out to our expert team for dedicated and bespoke support. 

Unsure? Trust our results. 35% of our students achieved an A* in 2023, compared to the national average of 7.7%. Hence working with us will increase your chances by a whopping 78%!

Our experienced Maths tutors offer methods for improvement by breaking down complex concepts and providing exam strategies. They also offer a deeper understanding of Maths by providing additional learning materials and offering immediate feedback.

If you’re making the jump from GCSE to A level you might find it especially useful to get bespoke help from one of our experienced tutors! We also have excellent GCSE tutors.

So, if you’re ready to claim your A-A* in A level Maths, reach out to our friendly team today. Take your future into your own hands.

FAQs

Is Further Maths harder than Maths?

Yes. When it comes to A level courses, Further Maths is considered more difficult than Maths. 

Further Maths dives deeper into complex topics, demanding a sharper mathematical toolkit. It’s challenging and intended for real math enthusiasts. For further information and guidance on Further Maths, reach out to our expert Further Maths tutors.

What is the importance of achieving an A in A level Maths?

Hitting that A grade isn’t just a pat on the back; it opens doors. Prestigious universities, like the University of Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial and LSE, expect A*s and As. Esteemed internships and employers also see a large number of applicants, hence they tend to look for A grades. It can set you apart in a sea of applicants. 

Having A grade, A level qualifications will really help you whatever your path is. However, the importance of an A in Maths depends on what degree or career you intend to pursue. If it’s quantitative, then an A in Maths grows in significance. For example, if you’re interested in pursuing machine learning or finance, an A grade in Maths is particularly helpful.

How to get an A* in A level Maths (Edexcel)? 

Master core concepts, devour past papers, and dissect mark schemes. Precision matters and accuracy trumps speed. Understand the examiner’s mind, and flaunt your problem-solving prowess.

Read this article for further advice and resources to get your A*. 

What is the passing grade for A level Maths? 

In the United Kingdom, any A level grade above an E is technically considered a pass. However, it’s best to aim for a C at minimum as many employers and universities are unlikely to view a D and below as a strong pass. This usually means scoring above 60%. 

Need help passing? Our expert Maths tutors can help you.

What Maths A level grade does 65% equate with? 

This is usually a C. However, grade boundaries change year upon year; they also differ depending on your exam board.

What Maths A level grade does 55% to 59% equate with? 

This is usually a D. However, grade boundaries change year upon year; they also differ depending on your exam board.

What Maths A level grade does 77% equate with? 

This is usually a B. However, grade boundaries change year upon year; they also differ depending on your exam board.

Can I take A level Maths in a language other than English?

The A level Maths paper is in the English language, so it’s highly recommended that you have good proficiency. We have excellent English language tutors who can help you. In some cases, you might be allowed a translator, but you should talk to your school as soon as you can to find out if this is possible.