Tutoring A-level Maths

Hello fellow maths tutors,

This question is mainly for those who have tutored A-level maths.
I find A-level maths a lot harder to tutor than GCSE maths due to the big step-up from GCSE along with all the vast content that is to be covered.

I was wondering if you had any tips when it came to tutoring A-level maths?
In my first lesson, I always go through multiple-choice quizzes with my learners to assess where they are currently at. However, I often find myself not being able to cover everything they are struggling with in the time that we have.
Do you cover all of pure, stats and mechanics in your sessions, or do you only focus on one of the modules?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Ryan

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I actually love tutoring A levels. I tutor all of them in my sessions.

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I teach maths at A level and degree, I find it quite helpful to keep sessions focussed on small topics, and introduce new concepts gradually. Another difference is that I tend to focus on exam technique and solving exam-style questions since I think that often there’s not enough time in school to cover these properly.

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Razzor,

I initially ask my A-Level students for a list of topics that they would like to revise.

Some students come fully prepared to each lesson with a topic they want to review. Others need me to make suggestions.

I take them through my lesson(s) on the topic, setting the pace to match their abilities. I make it clear that at any point they can move faster or slower, and skip sections they feel they fully understand. We then progress to practising exam questions on the topic (this being the real test of their understanding).
At the ned of the year/course, we will concentrate on working through past papers, including reviewing mark schemes (i.e. exam technique…what gets a mark, what does not get a mark).

Hope this helps.

Regards

Gerard

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I found A-Level quite difficult to begin with!

I took my A-Level a very long time ago. Had forgotten so much, I honestly thought it was just calculus plus a bit. I think I blanked out all the trig stuff (30 years of never using cosec, you know). I now find A-Level to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding levels.

I have AQA books, Edexcel books and even a couple of OCR books, which I built up over time. I tend to focus each lesson on one area e.g. chain rule, product rule, trig identities. We work through questions and work at the student’s pace.

One student booked me specifically for Mechanics and then kept me on to help her with Pure. Other students book me for everything.

We always end up going through lots of past papers before the exam, which really helps.

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Hi Ryan

The 2017 specification certainly provides increased challenge for students. Pearson Edexcel released some really good support materials a couple of years ago through the mathsemporium website (if you are a teacher or examiner, you can get access to this). There are specially produced practice papers, topic tests and materials all based on the new specification. Physicsandmathstutor.com is still pretty good and their gold papers are a fairly decent approximation to the new spec. Some of the best advice available though, is in Craig Barton’s book, ‘How I wish I’d Taught Maths (you can get this on Amazon. There are some very good materials on his Variationtheory.com website as well. If you are wanting to go to a higher level and look at STEP and MAT then maths.org/step/welcome is really helpful. There are also some good things available on nrich.maths.org and their sister site plus.maths.org which used to be run by Christ’s College Director of Studies, Robert Hunt (no idea if he still runs it). I’d also recommend getting a subscription to MEI Integral - it’s not expensive and also has some decent materials. Just try and be sharp - I find that students often want to look at complex work in further maths and sometimes have an expectation that you will be immediately able to solve a very challenging part d of a question without working through parts a-c! It’s using good to do a proper modelling exercise in such cased and try and make the clues that these parts give more obvious…Stephen Siklos’ books ‘Advanced Problems in Mathematics’ and ‘Advanced Problems in Core Mathematics’ https://pmt.physicsandmathstutor.com/download/Maths/STEP/Advanced%20Problems%20in%20Mathematics%20(STEP).pdf and http://cuhs.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/advpcm.pdf are also excellent for deepening students’ knowledge and understanding and the commentaries are really excellent.

Hope these ideas help.

Henry

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I tutor all the modules.
I find tutoring A level the moat enjoyable.
Some gcse lessons are good. But generally working with students that have a firm understanding of the basic principles means its easier to explain new concepts based on old techniques.

Further maths a level is far more challengingi I find.

I limit my students for further maths… I tend to do so much for free that further maths isnt really viable.

I’m considering charging more for further maths.

Personally i think the step from a level to further a level is bigger than gcse to a level

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