The sessions will cover the following areas (or as much of them as we have time for):

Fri 30th March (Good Friday):

Tues 3rd April:

Thursday 5th April:

Tues 10th April:

If you're doing the Higher IGCSE then all the topics listed above are also relevant to you, with the exception of circle theorem proofs, box plots and 2-way tables.

Full details can be found in this PDF document (also accessible via the Resource Bank link on the home page).

If you'd like to sign up for any of these sessions then please get in touch, either via the contact form on this site or by email. I'll need the following information from you:

- Student name, school, exam board and target grade
- Parent/guardian name, address, email and phone number (preferably mobile)

This year things have been ticking over nicely with around 12-15 regular tutees at any one time, plus a few on the waiting list for cancellations and holiday slots. I have three who are doing the second year of the old A-level and the rest are in Years 10 and 11 or doing GCSE resits, though enquiries from Year 12 students doing the new A-level have started to trickle in now. Evening slots are full up but I can still fit in a couple more daytime students.

I've just updated my resource lists for students: They can be downloaded here for GCSE and here for the new A-level. Lots of useful stuff there to help with your exam preparation. A good web page that I've just discovered for practising a wide range of GCSE skills is Maths4Everyone's Games page. Bookmark it on your phone and do a quiz whenever you have a few minutes to kill. Try to beat your previous high score on each quiz!

On the social side, I'm still enjoying the musical theatre stuff: in November I played Liza the maid in Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure, and this April I'm in The Mikado. This is another show that I did at school - 32 years ago now! - and I can still remember most of the chorus content but there's a lot more to learn too, as I have a much bigger part this time: I'm playing Pitti-Sing, one of the Three Little Maids. STAMPS' Spring show is a proper social event, with the audience seated around tables and served up with a fish & chip supper by the cast during the interval. If you're in the Solihull area 18th - 21st April then please consider coming along!

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Exam season is over, and most of us are winding down to enjoy the summer break. I have a few slots left for new starters in September so please get in touch if you're local and looking for Maths tuition!

One of my main tasks over the summer is going to be getting fully up to speed on the new A level specification, which is prescribed by Ofqual and so is the same across all exam boards, although of course there will be small differences. The bulk of it is similar to the old one and there isn't supposed to be any increase in difficulty but, as with the new GCSE, there's more emphasis on problem solving and proof - and also on mathematical modelling. Decision Maths is completely disappearing (though it will still feature in some Further Maths specifications) and the applied maths element - still a third of the overall total - will consist only of Statistics and Mechanics. The big change in Statistics is the use of "large data sets" which vary depending on which exam board you're with. The student is expected to be familiar with the data for their particular board, and a variety of ways of analysing it.

The grade scale will be unchanged, with the lowest pass grade being an E and the highest at A*. There will still be an AS level available, but many schools/colleges are not entering their students for it, because it costs money and doesn't count towards the A level result. An AS level is now worth 40% of an A level in terms of UCAS points. (There will no longer be any such thing as an A2 level.)

If you want to keep your Maths skills ticking over during the summer, regardless of whether you're just finishing Year 9 or about to go on to A-level, take a look at Corbettmaths 5-a-day. Each day, answer the questions for the grade level that you're working at - or try the next level up - and then check your answers against the worked solutions. This is a great resource to keep you up to speed on a wide range of topics throughout the year, even though your lessons at school are likely to be focusing on a particular topic for a week or two at a time.

]]>One of my main tasks over the summer is going to be getting fully up to speed on the new A level specification, which is prescribed by Ofqual and so is the same across all exam boards, although of course there will be small differences. The bulk of it is similar to the old one and there isn't supposed to be any increase in difficulty but, as with the new GCSE, there's more emphasis on problem solving and proof - and also on mathematical modelling. Decision Maths is completely disappearing (though it will still feature in some Further Maths specifications) and the applied maths element - still a third of the overall total - will consist only of Statistics and Mechanics. The big change in Statistics is the use of "large data sets" which vary depending on which exam board you're with. The student is expected to be familiar with the data for their particular board, and a variety of ways of analysing it.

The grade scale will be unchanged, with the lowest pass grade being an E and the highest at A*. There will still be an AS level available, but many schools/colleges are not entering their students for it, because it costs money and doesn't count towards the A level result. An AS level is now worth 40% of an A level in terms of UCAS points. (There will no longer be any such thing as an A2 level.)

If you want to keep your Maths skills ticking over during the summer, regardless of whether you're just finishing Year 9 or about to go on to A-level, take a look at Corbettmaths 5-a-day. Each day, answer the questions for the grade level that you're working at - or try the next level up - and then check your answers against the worked solutions. This is a great resource to keep you up to speed on a wide range of topics throughout the year, even though your lessons at school are likely to be focusing on a particular topic for a week or two at a time.

Starting with the Edexcel GCSE, the amazing people at JustMaths have put together sets of practice papers, complete with examiner reports and mark schemes, covering the stuff that wasn't in the first paper. You can find them at http://justmaths.co.uk/2017/05/26/best-guess-papers-yeah-right/

This post on Twitter by the equally amazing Corbettmaths lists the topics not yet tested by AQA; the videos referred to can be found at https://corbettmaths.com/ and the promised papers are now online at https://corbettmaths.com/2017/05/28/aqa-papers-2-3-predictions-2017/.

The Edexcel IGCSE is a little easier to predict as it's an older spec and there are only two papers. Key topics that have been predicted for Higher Paper 2 are:

- Circle theorems
- Histograms
- nth term of a sequence
- Inequalities
- Differentiation (calculus)

Thanks go to the folks on the Facebook "Maths Tutors UK" group for the info in this post!

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- Look at how many marks are available and divide your time accordingly. For example, an AQA A-level module paper has 75 marks available and 90 minutes allowed, so 1 mark per minute is a good rate to aim for, leaving you with a bit of time to go back and check your answers, or wrestle with the tricky bits, at the end.
- You can answer the questions in any order you like, so start with the ones that you feel most confident about.
- Make sure you read each question carefully and answer it - don't just assume that it's asking you to do exactly what you've practised doing in the past!
- Make sure you answer each question in the correct space - if you have lots of extra space on the pages for Q5 but need more space for Q4 then ask for more paper, DON'T write your Q4 answer on the Q5 pages!
- If a question has several parts then number each part clearly.
- If you can't do the first part of a question then don't be afraid to try the rest of it; the first part will often be a "Show that" which provides you with an answer that you wil use later in the question, and sometimes the question parts are completely independent of each other.
- Write down ALL your working, explaining what you are doing so that it's easy for the examiner to follow and give you marks. This is especially important on "Show that" questions!
- A sketch diagram can often help you to visualise what's going on and see what needs to be done.
- Give final answers to a sensible degree of accuracy, but use extra significant figures throughout your working. 3 s.f. is usually a safe bet for your final answer, though if the original information you were given was only to 1 s.f. then your answer can only really be accurate to 1 s.f. too. If the question asks for an exact value then give your answer as a fraction or a surd or in terms of pi - a decimal is only OK if it's exact.
- If the question says "Show that..." or "Verify that..." then you should always finish your answer with a statement that you have shown what you were asked to show. If the question says "Show that x+2 is a factor of f(x)" then you should end your answer with "so x+2 is a factor of f(x)".
- "Show that..." means you should work out the answer for yourself and end up with the answer given. You won't normally get full marks if you try to do it by working backwards from the answer. With "Verify that..." questions, on the other hand, it's fine to just plug in the value given and show that it works. Don't forget to finish with a statement! (If you're doing AQA C2 then you might find it helpful to have a look at the "June '11 Show Thats" document in my Resource Bank - see link on home page. That particular paper had lots of this type of question on it and this document shows you how carefully you have to present your answers to get full marks on them.)
- Don't cross anything out unless you DEFINITELY don't want the examiner to look at it. If you think you've messed up an attempt at a question then box it off and make another attempt before you cross out the first one. Even if you do cross something out, just put a line through it - don't obliterate it so that it's illegible, as occasionally you may still get a mark or two if you've done something correctly and haven't got those particular marks for your (otherwise largely correct) replacement attempt.
- Exam boards vary on how they mark multiple attempts at the same question; at AQA A-level the current policy is to mark every attempt and give credit for the best one, so it's best to leave all your answers un-crossed out. Until about four years ago, though, the policy was to average the marks and round down to the nearest whole number - so if one attempt got 2 out of 4 and another got 3 then they'd average it to 2.5 and round down to 2.
- Above all, don't panic! If anxiety starts to get on top of you then see if you can calm yourself down by slowing down your breathing or concentrating on counting backwards in 3s from 300. You can find more tips on dealing with exam stress here. If you don't do as well as you hoped in the exam then it's not the end of the world; true, you may end up having to adjust your life plan, but in the long run that may well turn out to have been a good thing.

Wed 12th April 10.00-11.30

SOHCAHTOA, sine rule, cosine rule, triangle area, trig graphs, arcs and sectors

Fri 14th April (Good Friday) 10.00-11.30

Estimating averages & spread, cumulative frequency curves & box plots, histograms

Fri 21st April 10.00-11.30

Probability basics, Venn diagrams and set notation, listing strategies, 2-way tables, tree diagrams, conditional probability, independent events

The cost is £20 per student per session (maximum of 4 in a group). If you'd like to join any of these sessions then please use the contact form on this website to get in touch. I will need the following information:

- Student name, school, exam board and target grade
- Which session(s) the student would like to attend (it would also be helpful if you could tell me which particular aspects of the topic he/she is most concerned about)
- Parent/guardian name, address, email and phone number (preferably mobile).

The sessions will cover the following areas (or as much of them as we have time for):

Wed 12th April 10.00-11.30

SOHCAHTOA, sine rule, cosine rule, triangle area, trig graphs, arcs and sectors

Fri 14th April (Good Friday) 10.00-11.30

Estimating averages & spread, cumulative frequency curves & box plots, histograms

Wed 19th April 10.00-11.30

Vector terminology, adding/subtracting vectors, multiplying by a scalar, using vectors in geometric arguments and proofs

Fri 21st April 10.00-11.30

Probability basics, Venn diagrams and set notation, listing strategies, 2-way tables, tree diagrams, conditional probability, independent events

Each session will run subject to a minimum of 2 students signing up; if I only get a single taker for a session then I’ll offer the option of a normal 1-to-1 session at £30 for an hour instead. Existing Year 11 tutees (including those on my waiting list) will be given priority, but if anyone else would like to come along then they’ll be welcome to do so if there are still spaces available once existing tutees have had an opportunity to claim their places.

If you would like to join one or more of these sessions then please send me an email, or use the contact form on this website, to let me know which ones you’d like to sign up for. For newcomers, I will also need the following information:

- Student name, school, exam board and target grade
- Parent/guardian name, address, email and phone number (preferably mobile)

I'm also starting to build up a resource bank accessible from my own website, primarily for my tutees' reference, but open to anyone. You can find it using the button below. There's not a huge amount on there at the moment, but it's a start. Where I've used others' resources, I've tried to give credit - for example there's a set of GCSE exam revision booklets with new-style exam questions grouped by topic, created by Pixi of PixiMaths fame, which I've been using extensively as homework for my Year 11 tutees. I've made a few minor tweaks but they're basically her work.

In other news, I'm now up to 14 regular tutees and not taking on any more for the time being. Half them are doing GCSE exams this summer, and most of the others are doing A-level (either AS or A2) - but I have one who's doing an American qualification called the GRE which appears at first glance to be pretty straightforward but actually serves as a hurdle to entry to a number of very prestigious universities in various parts of the world and involves some very challenging questions under extremely tight time constraints.

Rehearsals for Pirates are going well (tickets available from www.stamps-solihull.co.uk, £14 including a fish-and-ship supper, and selling quickly!) and from initially being cast as a pirate and policeman, I've now been promoted to pirate and maiden (despite being a little long in the tooth for such a role - but since the entire plot requires considerable suspension of disbelief, that's not too major an issue), which means a lot more choreography to remember. All good fun!

]]>Rehearsals for Pirates are going well (tickets available from www.stamps-solihull.co.uk, £14 including a fish-and-ship supper, and selling quickly!) and from initially being cast as a pirate and policeman, I've now been promoted to pirate and maiden (despite being a little long in the tooth for such a role - but since the entire plot requires considerable suspension of disbelief, that's not too major an issue), which means a lot more choreography to remember. All good fun!

My nine students, who are studying at eight different schools/colleges, range from struggling Year 10s to Year 13 students aiming for a high grade at A2 level, with a roughly even split between GCSE and A-level, and I've also been in discussions about taking on a couple of adult learners who are studying for Level 2 Maths qualifications. Some tutees are doing term-time only; others also want to continue through the school holidays. All so far have been looking for 1-to-1 tuition, which of course means they get a much more personalised approach than they'll get at a tuition centre.

Of course, this is the busiest time of year for tuition enquiries - when students in Years 11, 12, and 13 have just got their mock results back and a family decision has been made that they could benefit from a bit of extra support to help boost their grades in the exams in May and June. Once those exams are over, I expect demand to slow down significantly, which will free up time for my exam marking and other activities. But at the same time, I hope, word of mouth will bring in a few enquiries for next academic year.

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I don’t want them to see it as a test and feel under pressure. Calculators aren’t allowed, but I don’t mind if they need to look a few things up to remind themselves of how to do them; I’m more interested in their understanding of the underlying concepts, and the way they apply this understanding. Maths should make sense; not only is it a lot more enjoyable if you understand it, but if the basics don’t make sense to the learner then what hope do they have of getting to grips with the harder material needed for the exam?

Skills that I ask them to demonstrate are:

- Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, including long multiplication and long division
- Sorting positive and negative numbers into order using place value
- Rounding to a given degree of accuracy (nearest hundred, nearest tenth, 1 decimal place, 3 significant figures)
- Using order of operations (BIDMAS) to find the value of an expression
- Fractions: finding a fraction of an amount, identifying equivalent fractions, arithmetic with fractions
- Finding simple percentages of amounts
- Multiplying and dividing with decimals
- Solving linear equations

Some may question when they would ever use these skills in the real world, and sometimes that’s hard to answer. However, every one of these skills is still examined at GCSE, and some of the techniques – such as arithmetic with fractions – will be needed if the student goes on to study Maths at a higher level. It always surprises me how many students starting A-level Maths can’t remember how to divide by a fraction!

At the student’s initial consultation we’ll run through the exercise – which ideally they’ll already have worked through beforehand – and identify the gaps in their knowledge, addressing some of them there and then. The rest – as well as revisiting those newly addressed – can be worked into the first few lessons.

We’ll also discuss any areas of the GCSE course that they feel need special attention; perhaps they have struggled with the material in a particular topic or maybe they have missed out on teaching due to illness or a change of teaching set. We will of course aim to cover all the topics in the relevant exam specification (provided that there is enough time left before the exams), but this initial discussion allows me to plan for that particular student’s immediate needs.

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