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Which maths A-levels should I take?

A paper fortune tellerThere are a few different options for studying maths at A-level. Make sense of them with this guide.

Remember that the available subjects, and what you study in them, will depend on your school and exam board. You should check the details before you make any decisions.

Mathematics

This is the main maths A-level, and it covers various mathematical concepts such as trigonometry and calculus. However, exactly what you study will vary: different exam boards have different courses, and because the courses are modular different schools and colleges might offer different courses too.

This is the course to take if you’re thinking of studying maths at university, but it’s also useful for other courses, such as science, engineering or economics.

Further mathematics

Further mathematics is like an add-on to the main maths A-level. It covers some areas which you can't study as part of the maths course, such as imaginary and complex numbers, but you can also study some of the modules from the maths A-level that you haven’t chosen before. This means that while some of the work might be more difficult, a lot of the time you will be covering new topics but at the same level.

You won't be able to take further maths unless you are also taking maths, or have already got a maths A-level.

Further maths is very useful if you want to study maths at university, but it usually isn't required. However, there are exceptions: Warwick and Cambridge both require further maths if you want to take a maths degree.

Further mathematics (additional)

You might be able to take an extra further maths A-level. There isn't a particular structure for this: it is made up of the maths and further maths modules that you didn't choose for those courses.

This is quite a rare A-level course, and you might only be able to take it if you can make special arrangements with your school or college.

Pure mathematics

The ordinary maths A-level contains both pure and applied maths. If you'd rather focus on pure maths, you might be able to take a pure mathematics course instead. This includes units from both the maths and further maths A-levels, so if you're thinking of doing further maths it probably isn't the right choice for you.

Statistics

A statistics A-level focuses on real-world data and how to work with and interpret it. This includes things like probability and estimation.

Depending on the exam board, the statistics A-level can share modules with the main maths course. However, it also includes extra statistics modules that aren't available in the basic maths A-level.

A statistics A-level is useful for lots of things, such as business studies, economics or sociology. However, it is not the best choice if you wish to study maths at university, as it does not contain any pure maths elements.

Use of mathematics

The use of mathematics A-level isn't designed for people who are interested in studying maths at university, but for people who might find some maths skills useful for a different course or career. This means that it doesn't include many pure maths elements, focusing instead on things like statistics and algebra and their practical uses.

Use of maths is a relatively new course, so it might not be available at your school and college, or might only be available at AS level.

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