How Difficult is Math GCSE? An Expert's Perspective

Mathematics is often seen as a challenging subject, but with the right teaching and preparation, it can be one of the easiest to learn. This is because it is not based on the subjective opinion of an examiner like other subjects. So, what can we say about the GCSE of mathematics? It is a little less complex than other exams, likely due to its strength at the lower levels. However, there is more to an exam's difficulty than its complexity.

The dark blue bars in the diagram represent current math documents from greater GCSEs, which contain questions designed to differentiate students with higher abilities. The new GCSEs (in red and orange) will be slightly more demanding, but still won't match the mathematical complexity of other exams. This could be attributed to low levels of mathematics in the general population. It would be beneficial if a course was available to parents to help them understand the subject better.

To get a level 5 on the base paper, you need to get a high percentage of correct answers. To get a 5 on the top paper, you need fewer marks, but it is much harder to reach that level. Surds were something new to me when I studied A-level math in the 80s and I don't think more than 1% of the population would ever need them. My daughter worked hard for her math GCSE and her teacher chose to leave surds out until the end and just cover them quickly about a month before the exam.

If you're having trouble writing, it could be an indication that your math skills might need some work. She practiced papers until she was confident in her abilities. My children are unusual in that they especially love the UKMT math competition and mathematics is their favorite subject. If you want to test your knowledge of what 15-16 year olds in England and Wales are expected to know, try some of the questions from this year's GCSE math test.

Overall, the exam covers a wide range of skills and the middle questions are more difficult.

Shahid Lakha
Shahid Lakha

Shahid Lakha is a seasoned educational consultant with a rich history in the independent education sector and EdTech. With a solid background in Physics, Shahid has cultivated a career that spans tutoring, consulting, and entrepreneurship. As an Educational Consultant at Spires Online Tutoring since October 2016, he has been instrumental in fostering educational excellence in the online tutoring space. Shahid is also the founder and director of Specialist Science Tutors, a tutoring agency based in West London, where he has successfully managed various facets of the business, including marketing, web design, and client relationships. His dedication to education is further evidenced by his role as a self-employed tutor, where he has been teaching Maths, Physics, and Engineering to students up to university level since September 2011. Shahid holds a Master of Science in Photon Science from the University of Manchester and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Bath.