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GCSE to A-Level transition Answered

Hello all,

I have recently moved up from GCSE level education to A-Level education and I am happy with my subject choices after one week of being back after a long holiday.

I am taking:

Design and Technology: Product Design - Materials

I am worried about my mathematical ability though. Despite getting an A grade at GCSE, my true ability (in general) is somewhere around a B. I excel in geometry, shape, mechanics - anything with REAL WORLD application. I do not fare so well in the 'Maths for the sake of Maths' bits, namely some algebraic sections and whatnot. 

I am aware that the jump from GCSE to A-Level is a difficult one and that many students struggle with it (Maths in particular).

I just thought that I would post this here to see if anybody who has been through a difficult 'step-up' in work difficulty could offer me some advice. 

Also, this is a forum post so that anyone, in any education system, in any 'step-up' can discuss their issues, or offer their advice. So, don't feel left out Yanks! :-)

I thank you all in advance.


You haven't had enough experience to know what is "real world" yet. Engineering is a very mathematical subject, and you won't even have met some of the techniques you will rely on until you get there. You are learning the groundworks on which things like Fourier analysis, Laplace transforms and matrix algebra will be based. Don't close your mind to what you believe is "real world" now you have a lot to learn.

It was As, as in "plural of A".

There were no AS levels back then, and GCSEs were just a threat on the horizon. I do have one CSE, in German, grade 1.

If it's any consolation, I had a similar problem (way back when ony 5% of those who did A-levels went on to do As).

Hard work and an understanding teacher are the only real solutions, I'm afraid.

I've been studying in a special Mathematics class for two years already (it starts at 13-14), although I'm also much better at 'practical' things. I'm good at things like Physics and Chemistry, Geometry, and even 'Mathematical Analysis'-a thing where they teach about induction, polynomials and fields- but I'm absolutely terrible at Algebra.

Before the begining of this year I thought it was my biggest problem, partly because I'm sure Maths isn't a science, and partly because I can't copy an equation from the blackboard with less than 5 differences :(. Advice?
Grit your teeth and wade through doing your very best. Even if you don't like it, you still will have to do it and actually if you'll go to study Physics in university, you'd spend your firt term counting endless integrals...

Now I have a new problem, that I believe, you'll soon too face-I don't understand what things ARE. For example a field is something, where you have axioms of addition and multiplication, and you have to prove that only one zero can exist there, or that x+a=b has only one solution. Or did you know, that natural numbers is the intersection of infinite number of inductive sets (if a belongs to it, than a+1 also does). I think it makes them highly UNnatural...

Good luck!