Another Mathematics A-level update…

Things are not quite going to plan. Instead of pushing the kids to hit their targets for this year we’ve decided to ease off.

Frankly, it’d be an uphill struggle that would likely end with bad grades and/or demoralised and overworked kids.

Sabeen, 9, isn’t going to do her A-level Mathematics this year – her little brain is struggling to understand the concepts. So she’ll now be looking to do it next year, possibly with IGCSE Physics and French. It means she’ll have way more time for friends, hobbies, interests over the next few months to a year.

Danyal, 11, is going to have to work hard to do well in his A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, but he can do it. After that he’s done with studying completely, as long as his grades are good.

Maryam, 13, will no longer do A-level Further Mathematics – she will instead just go for Mathematics which she should find fairly easy. Like Danyal, after this she’s done with studying, subject to a good grade.

It’s exciting. The two older kids are really looking forward to getting on with their lives and not having to study any more…

Author: Asim Qureshi

Passionate about tech startups, home schooling, barefoot running and squash.

24 thoughts on “Another Mathematics A-level update…”

  1. Assalamou Aleikoum Brother Asim. Mash Allah! I am very much inspired by your blog to home school my 2 girls. They are 3 yrs and 8 months old. Thank you for sharing your experience. May Allah (swt) bless your family and you abundantly. Ameen! Will it be possible for your wife to blog about her experience with homeschooling. How did she manage being at home with the kids, taking care of the house…How did she remain focus and motivated every day. It will be nice to read from her. As a prospective home schooling mum I am trying to learn from other mums. The post can either be in french or english I don’t mind 😀 Jazak Allah

    1. WS Rachida, Isabelle doesn’t like being in the public domain. While she’s in this blog, she asked not to be in there. I felt it was important she was shown. So now she just pretends my blog doesn’t exist and doesn’t read it.

      1. Thanks for the feedback! if she doesn’t like the public domain can I give her my email address. If she is still not comfortable with it I will understand.

      2. I’m sure she’ll respond if you give me your email address. How can I get it. If you post it here I’ll delete it when I get it but your risk! Or any other way?

  2. Hi, Asim.
    I’m about to sit for my A-levels this month and the university I applied to also informed me that I need to have an A-level qual. in maths as well. The last time I did Maths was back in 11th grade for my IGCSE and ended up with a ‘C’. Now, i’ll have to sit for the maths A-level in Oct/Nov or January, depending on which board I choose. How do you recommend I study and prepare for the exam? Start solving past papers straight away? or Learn and understand the content first? or what should I do???

    1. Do the January one, just do past papers. If you only got a C in your IGCSE you will have to work VERY hard. 8 hours a day for at least 6 months to get a C. Add an extra month for each increase on grade. Of course these are very approximate estimates. Just do past papers and nothing else.

      1. but what if I don’t understand something? I can only attempt to solve something if I have any learnt knowledge about it or would you still recommend just solving past papers and googling the topic when stuck?

      2. Google it when stuck. For most questions you’ll find full explanations in YouTube. At first, progress will be very slow, but that’s all part of learning. Trust me, this method works. It’s just frustrating at the beginning.

  3. Hi Asim, thanks for sharing your homeschooling journey. It’s super helpful! Please keep sharing the changes in course and unexpected learnings.

    I have two children (almost 8, and 6) who will be homeschooled starting next year. We live in the US.

    While one or both may follow my footsteps as an entrepreneur, they may go to university before that, and if they go to university first, they’ll likely go a US university.

    Since there isn’t a direct analogue to GCSE tests here in America, I’m wondering if you still see value in pursuing GCSEs for kids who will go to a US school that doesn’t measure applicants with GCSE tests and scores. I really like the idea of having clear goals for our kids to work toward. And I’m persuaded by your strategy of using the tests solely as the guide for what to learn in a given subject (frankly, it makes learning without clear measurable goals seem like a potential huge time-waster! — particularly in subjects like maths, physics vs European history, humanities. Keep in mind, the irony that here in the US “teaching to the test” is ridiculed by our betters.)

    Again, I’m still learning about the GCSE/A level testing scheme, but studying for AP tests in the US seems more useful because you can get college credits. I’m sure A levels and AP test are both challenging (I don’t know which is harder), but I know passing several AP tests with high scores not only looks impressive, but saves the college student time and treasure.

    GCSEs are the more interesting proposition since we’re without an equivalent. Do I give my kids the clear goals that your kids had by first pursuing GSCEs even if they do nothing to help in the college admissions process other than add some color?

    1. Ben, I don’t think there is any point doing GCSEs for the sake of having clear goals.

      My goal would be to get them into a top university (in my case ensure they have the grades that allow them to get in later if they want). Which is why my youngest two are not doing many GCSEs (likely 3 each, well below the standard 8+ in most good schools) and instead doing the full A-levels as universities accept on A-levels.

      Best to go directly for the goal where possible. Exams are a passport for the next stage. The stuff kids learn in them, for the most part, is useless, in my view.

      And I’m glad to know this blog has helped you.

      1. Thanks Asim! If universities that your kids might apply to don’t care about GCSEs, why have your youngest two even do 3? Is there value in doing GCSE Maths before A-level Maths? In my situation in the US, there may be value because AP maths in the US starts at calculus — studying for and passing GCSE maths could be a stepping stone — no?

  4. Dear Mr Qureshi,
    I am the same age as Maryam (a few months younger, but still in year 9), and I’ve also completed some A levels early. I did Latin in 2015, Classics in 2016 and Biology in 2017, all at A* and am doing Government and Politics next week! It’s a bit pointless as I want to go on to do medicine (and become a heart surgeon), but I find it fun, and I love to learn! I’d love to talk to Maryam about her experience, and about what she liked and disliked about the Biology course for A level after exams are over, when I’m doing Politics and she is doing Maths.It is completely fine if she can’t 🙂 My Quora is just Scarlett West!
    I love your posts!
    Kind regards,
    Scarlett

    1. Wow, that is amazing! Yes I’ll put you in touch in a couple of months when their exams are over. Feel free to remind me in case I forget.

  5. Ben, I guess you’re right. It can serve as a halfway target, which is why our younger kids have done them. Teaching a young kid stuff for an 18 year old could be painfully slow.

    Also GCSEs are relatively easy, so a good confidence boost.

    Yes, you’re right, it could make sense for you.

  6. Hi Asim,

    Doing only past papers make sense to a certain extent to me. The concern that I have is that there are only 7 years of papers and I am confused at to what the strategy is after completing all of the questions. Does one do them again?

    1. Mani, look, you have to adjust the strategy for each exam. If there are 7×2=14 past papers that might be enough. But if there are only 7 past papers then you’ll need to do questions from a textbook.

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