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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 6:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:03 pm
Posts: 1179
Location: Cheshire
My son due to sit his A level Maths this summer has had a panic attack today , Mock exam tomorrow.
Thus far C1,C2,M1,S1 results are high 90%.

But C3 and C4 averaging around 80%-very variable and erratic performances from 75% to 85% -he seems to be stuck at this level.

I have tried to reassure him that he still has 5 weeks to go and C3 and C4 modules are not until mid june plus he has only recently completed the A2 compulsory modules at school.

I do not know if he genuinely has anything to worry about at this stage or some drastic remedial action needs to be taken like extra tutoring.

The problem is if he does not get an A*, the school may refuse him the opportunity to do FM in upper sixth!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:00 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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Has he analysesd the type of question he is getting stuck on?

Does he realise that grade boundaries vary enormously on C3 and C4? UMS not % should be his focus.

If you let me know which topics then I'll give specific tips ...


{I do prefer not doing Maths/F Maths like this for this very reason - C4 requires 'maturity' that does not always come in Year 12.}


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:00 pm 
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IME maths takes time to sink in. If he has only just finished C3 and C4 he is probably feeling anxious that he does not yet understand it as clearly as he would like with the exams being so close. That anxiety will make his study more difficult.
There is still enough time to go over topics. Try and get him to not look at whether he has got a topic with complete understanding, but has he understood it better than last time he went through it.
Practice at doing the exam papers will add speed and he also should go through the mark scheme, so he can see where he is losing marks.
There are also some good websites which are excellent at explaining the maths and often another view will give a step forward in understanding.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:16 am 
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Is one-on-one tutoring, drastic action?

These days I have a pretty low threshold for deciding to find expert assistance for DCs or even myself when worried about something important.

I feel a lot happier since I stopped regarding it as a personal failure to ask for help in whatever form it may take.

Obviously the work has to be done by the examinee at the end of the day, but panic needs reassurance and a believable plan to deal with it.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:04 am 
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The marks he is getting sound excellent to me - why is he so worried? It has been a couple of years now since DD did A level Maths but I recall she spent lot of time going over and over papers and really practising the things she found hard. Come exam time the C3 paper almost finished them all off (copious tears, not just from the girls either) but the C4 paper was much more straightforward. As G55 says, this was then reflected in the grade boundaries - C3 that year ended up with low boundaries while C4 was much higher. I think all you can do is reassure, support, cook nice things and tell him to hold his nerve.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:42 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
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Location: Essex
Surely his teacher(s) should be approachable for help? Also, if they have now covered all the material in class, they should be spending class time on revision anyway, I would think? Does his school 'cast them off' for study leave (I'm assuming there isn't much of this if he is in year 12?), or are the students able to go into school for that period? DS1 took A2 (3 sciences / Maths / GS) last year and I think found it useful at least for part of the time to be in school, with his teachers available to help if required.

Admittedly, Maths is a worry with regard to the requirements for A*, though, so I do sympathise. DS1 managed to miss out on the '*' by virtue of achieving over 90 average UMS, but with 100 for M1 and a bit under 90 for C3. Fortunately, if gad accepted an 'unconditional if firmed' place and none of his offers had involved an A* in Maths anyway, so in sir case it was merely mildly annoying.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:50 am 
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Maths A* requires a total of [at least] 180 for C3 and C4 with overal UMS of 480 or more. It is different to every other A level ...

Presumablt he knows about www.examsolutions.net?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:41 am 
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Guest55 wrote:
Maths A* requires a total of [at least] 180 for C3 and C4 with overal UMS of 480 or more. It is different to every other A level ...

Presumablt he knows about http://www.examsolutions.net?

That website looks extremely useful, thank you! DS is not at the A levels stage yet, but I can see there are some tips and tutorials there for GCSEs, too. I've saved the link in my bookmarks, or I will forget it exists when he needs it!

I also wanted to thank you for your suggestion of doing past maths papers and using the marking scheme and examiner's report when checking the answers. After going through a couple of papers with DS and marking him down on anything I possibly could (probably unfairly in some cases), he got the message and in his third paper all his workings-out were there and pretty legible, too. I just hope he will remember all that for his maths GCSEs this summer.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:56 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:03 pm
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Location: Cheshire
I have now had a chance to look at some of his C3 and C4 papers and the mistakes seem to quite random as opposed to topic specific often making an arithmetic at the beginning of a multi-layered question.

He has always been quite error prone -This is more worrying to me.I think he needs to slow done and check his calculations as he goes along and not wait to simply check at the end of the exam there are always going to be the odd questions that on the surface seem unfamiliar at first which requires extra thinking time ,on these questions he does quite well.

My hope is that as he does more past papers his confidence and speed will improve so that he checks for simple errors as he progresses through the paper but also has enough time to check the entire paper at the end, he is still a long way from this yet but I have reassured him with practice it will come.

Welcome to A level! Hold tight it's going to be a bumpy ride.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:42 pm 
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If he sets out solutions well then many questions have carry through marks.

It's easy to check solutions of trig etc by substituting back the angles.

Slowing down is a hard skill to acquire - try to make him write very neatly - that seems to help.


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