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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
AS-level maths syllabus revised
calculator
The use of calculators in exams will be restricted
The maths AS-level course is being revised after teachers and pupils complained it was too hard.

But the changes will not come into schools until September 2004, meaning four year groups will have sat AS-level pitched at too high a standard.


These alterations will bring the qualification more in line with our international competitors

Ken Boston, QCA
The shake-up of the syllabus will see pupils studying algebra covered at GCSE and focusing more on the "pure" elements of the subject.

Under the new system, students will be given fewer opportunities to use calculators in exams and there will be less emphasis on applying maths to real-life situations.

The exam watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), was forced to act after the number of pupils who went on from AS-level in maths to take the A2 fell by 12,000.

And figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service showed the number of students applying to study for a degree in maths dropped by over 12% this year.

'No compromise'

Two-thirds of the qualification will now be made up of theoretical maths and pupils will only be able to choose between maths and further maths.

Whole AS-levels in pure maths, applied maths or discrete maths will no longer be an option for candidates.

QCA chief executive Ken Boston said the changes would not "compromise" standards, as little of the "core content" of A-level maths was being removed.

He said the distribution of what students had to grasp was being adjusted between the AS-level and A2 parts of the course to make it more "manageable".

"The proposed criteria will provide students with more time to learn and gain a good grasp of the important core content of AS and A-level maths.

"These alterations will also bring the qualification more in line with our international competitors."

University concern

The changes may also be seen as an olive branch to the higher education sector.

Many UK universities say they are having to offer extra tuition in maths to bring students up to scratch.

They complain new undergraduates do not have the necessary knowledge of pure - as opposed to applied maths.

Academics running maths, engineering and science courses in 50 universities are now believed to be testing their new students to assess where weaknesses may lie.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Education
15 Feb 02 | Education
27 Sep 02 | Education
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