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Welcome! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Tips for CIE AS and A Level Mathematics

I got 4A for my AS Level in October 2013 and 4A* for my A Level in May 2014. One of the 4 subjects I took was Mathematics. My percentage uniform mark for Mathematics was 96% in AS Level and 94% in A Level. Do you want to know how to score in AS and A Level for Mathematics? Here, I am posting the complete tips for AS and A Level Mathematics. These tips are intended for students who are sitting for AS or A Level in 2016, 2017 or 2018.

Tips for other CIE AS and A Level subjects can be found here:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2014/09/complete-tips-for-cie-as-and-level.html


1. Studying tips
- When your teacher is teaching in class, pay attention to what your teacher says. Make sure you understand everything taught by your teacher. If you do not understand anything, ask your teacher or friends.
- You need reference books that are complete. I recommend you to use my e-books. You can download my e-books here:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2014/06/full-notes-for-cambridge-international.html
- When studying a chapter for the first time, read through the notes in the reference book. Make sure that you understand the concept for that chapter and relate them to what your teacher had taught in school.
- You need to know how to apply what you have learnt to solve questions. Go through all the example questions in the reference book. Make sure that you understand how every question is solved.
- Then, you have to do a lot of exercises. You can start by doing questions in the reference books topic by topic. When you have understood all topics, proceed with doing past year A Level questions. After doing the questions, refer to the mark scheme and do self marking. Past year questions and mark schemes are available here:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.my/2014/02/cie-octnov-2013-question-papers-and.html
- You should understand how the mark schemes are used. In the mark schemes for Mathematics, there are 3 types of marks, which are M, A and B. The A marks are always dependent on the M marks before them, which means that A marks can only be scored if the M marks before them are also scored. On the other hand, B marks are independent of any other marks, which means that they can be scored without other marks also being scored.
- When doing revision before exam, you should go through the example questions for all chapters in the reference book. If you have forgotten the concept for any chapter, go through the notes in reference book for that chapter again. You should also do some past year questions.
- AS and A Level Mathematics also requires knowledge gained from SPM, IGCSE or equivalent, although it does not test on them directly. Make sure that you do not forget them.

2. Answering tips for all papers (Paper 1 to 7)
- When answering, read the question and information given carefully. For questions involving diagrams, mark any important details on the diagram. For some questions without diagram, sometimes it may be helpful to draw a diagram so that you can illustrate the information given in the question. Apply what you have learnt in mathematics in order to solve the questions and get the answer. Use the correct concept or formula for every question. Certain formula are provided in the formula booklet, refer to them if necessary.
- You must show all workings for every question. You should not skip any important steps. You do not need to write down the formula used to solve the question. The number of marks allocated for a question usually shows the amount of working needed. 1 mark will be given for each important step and the final answer. Marks can only be given for the final answer if the marks for working are scored. Therefore, correct answer without working usually scores 0 mark.
- On the other hand, if your final answer is wrong but some of your working is correct, you may still be given some marks. You are not allowed to write extra solutions or answers for any question. If you do so and any of the answers/solutions is wrong, marks will be deducted. When copying figures from the question or from your answer for the previous part of the question, be careful not to copy wrongly.
- For a part of question which requires you to use your answer from the previous part, even if your answer for the previous part is wrong and you use it for this part, causing your answer for this part to be wrong, you will still get the working marks (M marks) for this part as long as your calculation for this part is correct, but you will usually lose the answer marks (A marks) for this part.
- If the question does not state that you must or you cannot use a particular method, then you can use any suitable method to solve the question. You can also use methods that are not learnt in the A Level syllabus, if you know them. If the question states that you must use a particular method, then you can only that method to solve the question. If the question states that cannot use a particular method, then you cannot that method to solve the question.
- If the final answer is a number with infinite decimal places, you should round up to at least 3 significant figures, unless if the question states that you have to give your answer to a specific number of significant figures. You can also write your final answer as a fraction or in surd form if possible. However, if the question states that you must express your answer as fraction, as decimal or in surd form, then you must follow the instruction. If a number with infinite decimal places is involved in between the workings, you should take at least 4 or 5 significant figures (3 significant figures is not sufficient) or the value stored in the calculator to ensure accuracy of the final answer. Otherwise, marks may be deducted if the final answer is less accurate.
- For questions involving Pi, you should use the value of Pi from the calculator, unless if the question asks you to use Pi = 22/7 or Pi = 3.142 . You must also follow all other special instructions given in the question. After you have answered all questions, you should recheck your answers for mistakes. Leave at least 15 minutes to recheck your answers if possible. When rechecking, use a different method to solve the question or directly use the calculator if possible.


Tips for other CIE AS and A Level subjects can be found here:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2014/09/complete-tips-for-cie-as-and-level.html

55 comments:

  1. the link for the past year paper for A level seem to be unavailable, i got problem loading page for that link, could u check them for me?

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  2. Thankyou so much brother!��I got A* in physics because of you.Now Im gonna give A level math and I want A* in this subject also so please tell me any good resource for math or anything that can help me get A*.Is there STANDARD BOOKLET for math?

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    1. I recommend that you use the e-books I provided above. I do not have the standard booklet for Maths.

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    2. Im appearing for A level's math this october.Im very confused about how to prepare myself for these exams.What should I do for mechanics?tell me some good tips so that I can prepare myself for all the four exams very nicely and get A*

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  3. Can we use a method which is not included in A level math syllabus?eg when it comes to solving a trig equation and giving the answer in a particular range,I dont use the quadrant technique,Instead of that I use formulas
    for tanx: nπ+y
    for cosx:2nπ+/- y
    for sinx:nπ+(-1)^n x y

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    1. Yes, you definitely can use methods that are not in the syllabus, as long as the question does not state you must use a particular method.

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  4. i have taken your notes in my website and i have given your reference link .....to access your blog directly ,,,,,you have done a fine job thank you very much

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  5. Whick formula booklet do we get during math's (P1,P3,M1 and S1) A level exam?Please tell me so that I can know which formulas not to memorise.

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    1. Please look at pages 28 to 32 of the A level Mathematics syllabus.
      http://www.cie.org.uk/images/164759-2016-syllabus.pdf
      It is the formula booklet that will be provided during exams.

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  6. If there is a question and while solving that question we get a quadratic eq which we have to solve and get the answer so is it necessary to show the working (i.e to use the quadratic formula) or can we just plug in the values in the calculater and solve the quadratic eq?If we just do it using the calculator will it be okay..We wont loose method marks right?

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    1. In most cases, you won't lose any marks for not showing the working for solving quadratic equations. However, it is still recommended that you show the working for that.

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  7. In P1 we are told to sketch a graph should we sketch it on the answer booklet or on the graph paper?How many points should we plot when it comes to sketching a graph?

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    1. If you are asked to SKETCH a graph, you should sketch it on the answer booklet. If you are asked to PLOT a graph, then you should plot in on the graph paper. In Paper 1, the question rarely asks you to plot a graph, most of the time it is sketch.

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  8. I have exams in october 2016 and I wont be able to do all pastpapers because of less time but I have done atleast 86 pastpapers for maths...What should I do to get A* in maths?tell me something that I can do in the last days before exams that will be useful for me becaus I wont be able to solve pastpapers in last days��It will be very time consuming

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    1. You don't have to do all past year papers, it is impossible to do so. Just do as many past year papers as you can. In the last days before the exam, you should revise all the concepts and then do a past year paper or two if you can.

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  9. Hi Daniel, is it possible to get A* for a level maths if i got 90 for my AS maths? From what i understand maths has a different way of allocating marks compared to other subjects. We need a UMS of 90 in C3 and C4? Are those pure maths modules? What is the purpose of M1 and S1 then?

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  10. Hi i am the same anon for the c3 and c4 modules..please ignore that as its us syllabus i think. So for maths, will our marks for as and a level be averaged out? As in for example (90+90)/2= 90 then a*? Is that how it works for all subjects?

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    1. Are you taking Edexcel A Level? Edexcel determines A* in a different way compared to CIE. To get A* in any subject in Edexcel, you need to get at least 90 in A2 AND at least 80 for the average of AS and A2. Regardless of your score in AS (as long as it is between 70 and 100), you must get 90 in A2 to get A*. As far as A* is concerned, an excellent score in AS cannot compensate for a poorer score in A2. As for CIE A Level, unlike Edexcel, to get A* you simply need to get 90 for the average of AS and A2.

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  11. Thank you for replying. I am taking CIE. What i have come to understand is that the PUM is actually not very accurate as its merely a scale right? What really determines our a level grade is our raw marks totaled up?

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    1. Your A Level grade is determined based on your raw marks (AS and A2 combined) and the grade thresholds (which is set by CIE depending on the difficulty of the papers and the performance of all candidates). The PUM is not equal to your raw marks or your percentage, instead it shows the position of your raw mark relative to the grade thresholds. For CIE A Level, A* requires getting PUM of 90% for AS and A2 combined. A better score in AS can compensate for a poorer score in A2.

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  12. The marks next to our results slip viewed online is the PUM or merely our percentage? If the marks is not the PUM how do we obtain the PUM?

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    1. The marks shown on the results website and on your statement of results is the PUM. You can get your raw marks from your school or college.

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  13. Ok. Thank you for your time Daniel. :)

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. There was a very high grade threshold for A* maths--a total of 234/250 for A2. I heard my senior say that they sometimes add raw marks to your original raw marks for science subjects? Were raw marks added to your original raw marks for maths or the sciences? Plus--the PUM at AS is not very accurate is it? You could get a PUM of 90 for AS (raw marks 108), but if the grade threshold is so high like 234,then it would be impossible to get A* for A2 because you would need 126 marks, which is more than the max in A2. Does this mean that CIE doesnt consider the difficulty of the AS paper at all when setting A2 grade thresholds? Sorry to ask so much..thank you.

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    1. In the past, CIE would sometimes increase or reduce your raw marks for AS Level science subjects to adjust for the differences in difficulty between different variants of the question papers. But as far as I know, they no longer do that now because they now set different grade thresholds for different variants.

      The grade threshold for overall A Level will take both AS and A2 into consideration. Since the grade thresholds for your AS is not that high (judging from your raw mark and PUM), the overall A Level threshold for A* definitely won't be as high as 234. If you can get at least another 108 in A2, your chance of getting A* will be very high.

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    2. Thank you for replying. I really appreciate it.

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  16. Hello! I saw the comments and just want to ask,how sure are you that CIE takes into account AS for A2 grade thresholds for maths? I checked, the year with 234/250 is june 2016, which AS in nov 2015 needed 111 marks for pum of 90. Hence in a2 candidates with those raw marks needed 123 marks (very tight). I know its silly of me, but i will be taking AS and was wondering. It seems like CIE doesnt care..and the threshold is always lower in oct papers than may papers for maths. What is your opinion on this?

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    1. Also..does CIE consider your PUM in AS for final a level grade? Lets say your PUM is 90 and a2 you score well (120) but because of the high threshold you fall short of 1 or two marks. Will they only consider your raw score? I know you are not CIE..its difficult for you to say but what is your opinion?

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    2. The overall A Level grade threshold definitely takes into account both AS and A2, because it varies depending on when you took the AS. For example, in June 2016 the A* threshold is 234/250 for those who took AS in June 2015, while the A* threshold is 229/250 for those who took AS in Nov 2015.

      Your overall A Level grade is determined by just 2 things, your total raw marks for AS and A2 combined, and the grade threshold. Your PUM in AS is not taken into consideration. However, higher PUM in AS indicates higher raw marks in AS, which means you need to score less marks in A2 to reach the grade threshold.

      I would like to ask, how do you determine that 111 marks is required to get PUM of 90 for AS in Nov 2015? This is not stated in the grade threshold document.

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  17. Oh i looked at AS Nov 2015,the minimum raw marks for A for papers 13 and 63 were 56 and 42 respectively, total of 98 marks. Hence 90 should be halfway between 98 and 125, which is 111.5. Please correct me if im wrong.
    Also, how did you know the A* marks is 229 for those who sat for the nov paper? All i saw was 234.
    I really admire your knowledge and how up to date you are, and how you take time to answer me.
    So a level grade will depend on AS marks as well..and wont be so high if AS has lower grade threshold..thank god.

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    1. Yes, you are right. For AS only, the raw marks required for PUM of 90 is exactly halfway between full marks and the threshold for A, since there is no grade A* for AS. But for AS and A2 combined, the raw marks required for PUM of 90 is the specific A* threshold set by CIE, which is usually lower than halfway between full marks and the threshold for A.

      In the grade threshold document for June 2016, it is stated that the A* threshold is 234 for components 33, 43, 89, and the A* threshold is 229 for components 33, 43, 99. Component 8x refers to AS taken in last June while component 9x refers to AS taken in last November. Both AS and A2 are taken into equal consideration when CIE determines the grade threshold for overall A Level.

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  18. What about AZ which is 13, 63, 33 and 43? It is my combination so i would like to know. Does the 89 represent P1 and S1 taken in nov?

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    1. Combination 13, 63, 33, 43 is only applicable for students who took all 4 papers (AS and A2) at the same time in June 2016. Components 87, 88, 89 represent Paper 1 and 6 taken in last June, while components 97, 98, 99 represent Paper 1 and 6 taken in last November.

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    2. Thank you so much for your time. Wish you all the best in your medicine course.

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  19. Sorry, i meant 99. But what about the AZ combo?

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  20. Hi I'm currently doing my a2 n having lots of trouble in mechanics do u happen to know Any websites that offer worked solutions for mechanics

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    1. Sorry, I do not know any website that offers worked solutions.

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  21. Hi I got a B in As level Math with a PUM of 71% and raw marks 85 also the Grade thresholds For an A grade were 99 to get an A grade. I was confused that if I can score an A grade in A2 levels if I get 89% PUM in A2 levels so that the average becomes 80%?

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    1. It is still possible for you to get grade A in overall A Level Maths. Your raw marks determines your PUM. You need to work on getting higher raw marks in A2 to compensate for AS so that you can reach the threshold for grade A in overall A Level. Take a look at the grade thresholds for the previous years to have a rough idea on haw many marks you need to score in A2.

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  22. Daniel thankyou so so so so much!!I've asked you many questions regarding A levels maths and physics and you've always helped ON TIME!Thankyou so much for your help always.I got A* in maths and physics.Thanks and I wish you all the success in life.You are doing a very very good job.

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  23. Hi Daniel. I obtained a PUM of 90 for my AS maths, with raw marks of 108. I know that the grade threshold for maths is very high. If I score well for A2, is it still possible for me to get an A*? I obtained 123/125 for my mocks. If i get a score above 120 for A2, is there any hope? Please give me your honest opinion.

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    1. It is definitely possible for you to get A*. If you can get a raw mark of at least another 108 in A2 Maths, your chance of getting A* should be high.

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    2. Ok thank you daniel. I will try my best. I saw that you scored full marks for P3, do you have any advice on how to do that? Did you finish all the P3 past years? Any tips on how to think during the exam itself? Sometimes there will be a very hard question that we have never encountered before.How long did it take for you to finish the questions for P3 and then check your answers? Thank you for your time.

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    3. During my A2, Maths Paper 4 was a week before Paper 3. I felt that I screwed up Paper 4 because I made careless mistakes in a few questions. Because of that, I was worried that I might not get A* for Maths. Therefore, I tried my best to score full marks in Paper 3. I did about 5 sets of past year questions during that week, and I went through all the example questions in the textbook. During Paper 3, I answered the questions with full concentration. The paper was quite easy. I finished all questions 20 minutes before the time was up and I could use the 20 minutes to check all my answers.

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  24. Hi ,Daniel. If I got 60/70 for Pure Maths Paper 1 ( I will sit for Statistics Paper 6 for next two weeks), how many marks should I get for each paper in Statistics paper 6 , Mechanics paper 4 and Pure Maths Paper 3 to score an A* for Maths ??

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  25. Hi. How many marks do you get for Mechanics??

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  26. Hi Daniel,just gave my p1 exam cie as level. Although my preparation was very good, did some silly mistake in tan graph and domain. I estimated my marks to be around 68 to 70. How much do I need to get in s1 which is after a couple of week in order to secure a*? I'm very sacred seeing the threshold of mj 16 and lost all my confidence after doing the avoidable mistake. Cheers.

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  27. Hello ,Daniel. What is your component marks for Statistics Paper 6?

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  28. how much did you get in p1 >?

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