The majority of students who take A level Further Mathematics do so as part of a four A level programme. Studying four A levels is a way for high-achieving students to demonstrate their abilities. Taking Mathematics and Further Mathematics as two of four A levels is often an achievable way to study four subjects as a consequence of their complementary nature. It is also common for Further Mathematics students to achieve higher grades in A level Mathematics as a result of the extra time spent studying mathematics.
A level Further Mathematics is required for some prestigious degree courses and recommended for many others (see: Universities and Careers). Offering Further Mathematics as part of four subject programme means that students are able to apply to these courses but are not necessarily committed to them from the start of year 12.
One further advantage of taking Further Maths as part of a four subject programme is that if a student starts the course but finds it too challenging they will have the option to just complete AS Further Mathematics alongside A level Mathematics. This means that they will still complete three full A levels.
Additional funding is available for students taking four A levels under the condition that they achieve a grade B or better in all of their subjects; however, if one of these subjects is A level Further Mathematics they will qualify for the large programme funding when they achieve at least a grade C in Further Maths and the remainder of their results are at grade B or better. For more details see: www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-funding-large-programme-uplift.
The FMSP strongly encourages schools and colleges to have the option of taking A level Further Mathematics as part of a four A level programme available for some students, even if the majority of students in the institution are studying three A levels.
Where there are a small number of students at a centre wishing to study Further Mathematics the FMSP can offer a variety of support such as FM Videos and FMSP Tuition. You can also contact your Area Coordinator via the Regional pages to see what support is offered locally.
A significant minority of students take A level Further Mathematics as part of a three subject programme. This is appropriate for students who are sure they wish to take a very mathematical route, such as progression on to a Maths, Physics, Engineering or Computing degree; however, for some students this could narrow the university courses that they would be able to apply for. A potential disadvantage of this route is that if they find the full A level Further Mathematics too challenging and wish to drop the subject they would not complete three full A levels.
A large number of degree courses encourage the study of Further Mathematics at least to AS level. AS Further Mathematics is unique as an AS qualification that builds and extends on the study of another AS/A level subject. Students who have taken A level Mathematics plus AS level Further Mathematics have essentially studied 1½ A levels in Mathematics and will be better prepared for degree courses in any STEM subject. AS level Further Mathematics is co-teachable with the first half of A level Mathematics which means that centres offering A level Further Mathematics should be able to accommodate AS Further Mathematics students in their existing classes.
It is also possible for students to study AS Further Mathematics in Year 13. Studying AS Further Mathematics in Year 13 is a valuable option for students who have discovered a passion for mathematics at the end of Year 12 and/or need to learn more mathematics in preparation for their degree choice.
The FMSP strongly encourages schools and colleges to have the option of taking AS level Further Mathematics available for some students, even if AS levels are not offered in other subjects.