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A-Level Maths

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Hymie | 20:38 Thu 08th Jun 2023 | Jobs & Education
27 Answers
Not that long ago, there was a thread on AB about an O-level maths question, with the general agreement that it was a very easy question to answer.

Well here is a question that is supposedly an A-level maths question that I would judge to be at the level to be expected of O-level. The solution is quite easy, but I would elevate it to O-level, in that it involves a modicum of thought in how to divide up the area under consideration to get to the solution.

If students entering university are unable to answer this question, either degree courses have been significantly dumbed-down, or they will seriously struggle with the syllabus.


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o levels havent been in use since the 80s
It was a gcse/ o level question. It seems doable to me. Just a square and 4 triangles and abit of pithagoras therom.
Every year the media tells us of angry students.... but thefinal question has gotto be hard so they can sort the very good from the excellent students.
It wasn't an A level maths question ... rhe article says it was on the gcse paper.
No way that's A level or O level, GCSE at best.
I would imagine that pupils at the end of a fairly difficult Higher paper would look at the diagram and panic, they may not be able to simplify it down to just the middle area. I used to tell them to if possible add as much data as possible to the diagram, if the sides are labelled as 1 then it becomes more obvious. There has to be questions to stretch even the brightest on any exam paper.
It looks like a 3x3 square + a 2x2 square, ie 9+4 = 13.
Dont think that's right tomus.....for starters the big square won't have side's of length 3. The length of each side will be 1 + 1 + something else involving pythaguras square roots
I think ( but its 40 years since night school) that the big square as sides 2 + sqrt (2) tomus
I think ( but its 40 years since night school) that the big square as sides 2 + sqrt (2) tomus.
The rest is 6 small triangle's...each as an area of 1/2
Typi 8 small triangles
Durr...4 small triangles ( as we allready done 4 in the big square)
So I found a pen now and I get 4(2 + sqrt2)?
So a = 1 that a redherring?
Questions like this are "hard" in the sense that it can be easy to panic, or to lose focus, or to see the whole shape rather than how to break it up. Once you can see the four small triangles and the large square, it becomes perfectly manageable, but what makes it hard is being hit all at once with just one piece of info (a=1) and having to work out the rest. It's typical of an Edexcel-style question to do this, to test the problem-solving skills.

I don't think judging it outside an exam setting is quite fair. Agree that the solution in itself isn't A Level standard, but the ability to work through each step without "hand-holding" is.
//but thefinal question has gotto be hard so they can sort the very good from the excellent students.//

Exactly that Bobb.

Not everyone can be a winner.
Towards the easy end of A level standard, mind -- hence appearing towards the end of a GCSE paper.

There's a tonne of arrogance on display here, from people who funnily enough mess up simple maths questions on AB all the time, before having to correct themselves (or be corrected).
Agree with bobbinwales and ymb, though. But sometimes these stories are overblown. I'd add, though, that we don't hear from the students who *didn't* have a problem with this question.
//There's a tonne of arrogance on display here//

Well thats pot and kettle isnt it?
I'm actually a very modest person, more modest than you could believe :P
Yes, says it was the last question on a gcse maths paper. Being useless at maths wouldn't know how to begin and have managed 72 years without needing to know. If, however, I was at school now, I would've had to sit this paper and doubt I would be any better off, I just don't get it.
bobbinwales // (2 + sqrt2)? //

This equates to the length of one side of the square.

The key to unlocking the solution is to verify the 4 triangles are right angled.


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