Home » For Parents » Exams & Revisions - Parents » GCSE Maths – Everything You Need to Know

GCSE Maths – Everything You Need to Know

Tornike Asatiani - Co-founder & COO of Edumentors

GCSE Maths is mandatory in the UK and crucial for students’ academic development. It’s divided into two tiers to suit different abilities: Foundation (grades 1-5) and Higher (grades 4-9). This ensures fairness in assessing students’ maths skills.

There are three exam papers in GCSE Maths. The first paper allows the use of a calculator, while the other two do not. Each subsequent paper increases in difficulty, challenging students to apply their mathematical knowledge and problem-solving skills.

Key Topics in GCSE Maths

GCSE Students Studying GCSE Maths

When studying for GCSE Maths, there are several key topics that students need to understand, each playing a vital role in developing a comprehensive grasp of mathematics. Here are some of the main areas:


This topic delves into the fundamentals of numeracy, including integers, decimals, fractions, percentages, powers, roots, and the order of operations. It’s essential to have a solid understanding of these elements as they form the basis of more complex mathematical calculations.


Algebra represents a significant leap for many students, introducing them to the concept of using symbols and letters to represent numbers and quantities in equations. This section includes topics such as simple equations, sequences, inequalities, and quadratic equations.

Geometry and Measures

In this topic, students explore shapes, space, and measurements. They learn about angles, properties of 2D and 3D shapes, units of measurement, perimeter, area, volume, and transformations.

Maths tutor at Edumentors

Taha T.

Maths Tutor


£30 Per session

Book Free Trial

Statistics and Probability

Statistics involves collecting, organising, and interpreting numerical data. Key topics include statistical measures (like mean, median, mode, and range), types of data, and data representation. Probability, on the other hand, deals with the likelihood of occurrence of different events, using concepts such as probability scales, theoretical probability, relative frequency, and tree diagrams.

Ratios, Proportions, and Rates of Change

This topic teaches students how to compare quantities, how things scale or grow, and the concept of constant rates of change. It involves ratios, proportionality, and direct and inverse proportion.

Each of these topics interlinks and helps build the larger mathematical picture. A strong understanding of these areas sets students up for tackling more complex mathematical problems and sets a strong foundation for future learning.

Why Do Students Find GCSE Maths SO Hard?

Quora Screenshot of a Question about GCSE Maths Being Hard
Source: Quora

Even though every student’s experience with GCSE Maths may be unique, there are common challenges that many tend to face throughout their learning journey. Understanding these hurdles can help in identifying effective strategies to overcome them.

Understanding Abstract Concepts

Many students struggle with the abstract nature of certain mathematical concepts, particularly as they move from dealing with tangible quantities to symbolic representations in algebra. Grappling with ideas that can’t be visualised can be a significant obstacle for many learners.

Problem-Solving Under Time Pressure

GCSE Maths exams aren’t just a test of knowledge; they also challenge students’ ability to apply that knowledge swiftly and accurately. Managing time effectively while ensuring accuracy can be a tough balance to strike, leading to increased stress during exams.

Misconceptions and Gaps in Knowledge

Sometimes, misunderstandings or gaps in knowledge from earlier stages of education can hinder progress in GCSE Maths. As the subject builds on previously learnt concepts, a shaky foundation can make grasping new topics much more challenging.

Keeping Up with the Pace of Learning

The volume of material to be covered in GCSE Maths can be overwhelming. For some students, keeping up with the pace of teaching while fully understanding each topic can be a daunting task.

Lack of Confidence and Maths Anxiety

Maths can be intimidating, and a lack of confidence often leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety and underperformance. This mental hurdle can prove to be one of the biggest obstacles to success in GCSE Maths.

Recognising these challenges is the first step towards addressing them. The next sections of this guide will provide practical solutions and resources to help students conquer these common difficulties and thrive in their GCSE Maths journey.

Sample GCSE Maths Exam Questions

Navigating through GCSE Maths involves tackling a variety of complex problems. Here, we’ll examine a few challenging questions across key areas, breaking down the solutions and pointing out potential pitfalls.

Question 1: Algebra

“Solve the equation 2x^2 – 5x – 3 = 0.”

Solution: This is a quadratic equation, and we can solve it using the quadratic formula x = [-b ± sqrt(b² – 4ac)] / 2a. Here, a=2, b=-5, and c=-3. Applying these values to the formula gives us the roots of the equation.

Common mistake: It’s essential to correctly identify the values of a, b, and c from the equation and ensure accurate calculation when using the quadratic formula.

Question 2: Geometry and Measures

“In a circle with a radius of 10 cm, find the length of the arc formed by a central angle of 60 degrees.”

Solution: To find the length of the arc, use the formula arc length = (θ/360) x 2πr, where θ is the central angle and r is the radius. Substituting θ=60 and r=10 into the formula will give the length of the arc.

Common mistake: Remember that the central angle should be in degrees when using this formula. Also, use the correct value of π.

Question 3: Statistics and Probability

“A bag contains 4 red, 3 blue and 2 green balls. One ball is drawn at random. What is the probability that it is neither red nor blue?”

Solution: The total number of balls is 4+3+2=9. The balls that are neither red nor blue are the green ones, of which there are 2. So, the probability is 2/9.

Common mistake: When calculating probability, ensure you’re considering the correct outcomes. The probability is defined as the number of desired outcomes divided by the total number of outcomes.

These questions offer a glimpse into the complexity and depth of GCSE Maths. Rigorous practice and understanding the underlying concepts are key to successfully answering such questions.

GCSE Maths Marking Scheme

Understanding the GCSE Maths marking scheme is essential for students to know exactly what examiners are looking for and how they can maximise their scores.

Structure of the GCSE Maths Marking Scheme

Snippet of GCSE Maths Mark Scheme

The marking scheme for GCSE Maths typically aligns with the areas of study: Number, Algebra, Geometry and Measures, Statistics and Probability, and Ratios, Proportions, and Rates of Change. Marks are allocated for each section according to their weight in the syllabus.

Marking for Accuracy and Method

Marks in GCSE Maths are usually awarded for two main aspects: the final answer and the method used. This means that even if a student gets the final answer wrong, they may still receive some marks if their method is correct. Similarly, an accurate answer with no clear method may not receive full marks.

Tiered Papers

GCSE Maths exams have two tiers: Foundation and Higher. The Foundation tier covers grades 1 to 5, while the Higher tier covers grades 4 to 9. The level of difficulty and the complexity of questions differ between these tiers.

Use of Marking Schemes in Revision

GCSE maths past papers and their respective marking schemes are invaluable resources for revision. They not only familiarise students with the format of the exam but also illustrate how marks are allocated. This helps students to understand how to approach each question strategically to gain the maximum marks possible.

Keep in mind, however, that while knowing the marking scheme is beneficial, truly excelling in GCSE Maths comes from a thorough understanding of the material and effective problem-solving skills.

Effective Revision Resources for GCSE Maths

When it comes to revising for GCSE Maths, there’s a wealth of resources available to students. Ranging from websites and apps to forums and books, these tools can provide comprehensive coverage of the subject matter, aid in understanding complex concepts, and provide ample practice opportunities. Here’s a selection of some effective resources:


  1. BBC Bitesize: Offers a wide range of resources, including revision notes, quizzes, and practice questions covering the entire GCSE Maths syllabus.
  2. Corbettmaths: This site provides numerous practice papers, revision cards, and instructional videos.
  3. Maths Genie: Known for its vast collection of past papers along with corresponding solutions.


  1. GCSE Maths: Revision Questions: This app offers thousands of GCSE Maths revision questions, allowing students to practice extensively.
  2. Photomath: Helpful for understanding mathematical problems step-by-step. Users take a photo of a maths problem, and the app breaks it down into manageable steps.

YouTube Channels

  1. Khan Academy: Offers easy-to-understand video tutorials on a wide range of GCSE Maths topics.
  2. HegartyMaths: Created by an experienced Maths teacher, this channel offers comprehensive video lessons on all topics in GCSE Maths.


  1. The Student Room: A forum where students can discuss topics, share revision tips, and get advice from peers.


  1. GCSE Maths AQA Revision Guide: A comprehensive revision guide with clear explanations, worked examples, and practice questions.
  2. New GCSE Maths Edexcel Revision Book: Provides a detailed coverage of the Edexcel specification, with numerous practice questions.

These resources cater to different learning styles, allowing students to choose what works best for them. Remember, the goal is not to use all resources, but rather to find the ones that match individual learning styles and preferences. Successful revision involves consistency, practice, and an understanding of core concepts.

The Advantages of Online GCSE Maths Tutoring

There are a lot of benefits to online tutoring – from gaining academic assistance from the comfort of their own home. The advantages of online tutoring include:

  1. No travel time or adjusting schedules to meet in-person.
  2. Tutors tailor their teaching style to the individual student’s needs, promoting a deeper understanding of the subject.
  3. Regardless of their location, students can receive quality tutoring from anywhere in the UK.
  4. Digital whiteboards, screen sharing, video conferencing, and other tech tools enhance the learning experience.
  5. Online platforms often provide tools for record-keeping and progress tracking, making it easier for students and parents to monitor progress.

Become a Maths Expert with Edumentors

In today’s dynamic educational landscape, academic excellence increasingly hinges on tailored, adaptive learning experiences. This is particularly true for GCSE Maths, a fundamental stepping stone for both academic and career aspirations. Mastery of this subject goes beyond mere understanding; it involves a deep, practical grasp of mathematical concepts.

Edumentors stands out in facilitating this level of mastery. It transcends traditional tutoring by transforming complex mathematical ideas into engaging, solvable challenges. This approach turns learning into an intellectually stimulating experience.

The strength of Edumentors lies in its team of GCSE maths tutors. These individuals are not only experts in their field, having distinguished themselves academically at leading UK universities, but they also bring a palpable passion and commitment to teaching. They serve as mentors, inspiring a robust understanding of maths and instilling confidence across a diverse range of learners.

For anyone on the path to GCSE Maths proficiency, Edumentors presents a compelling option for achieving excellence in this crucial subject.


We are educating children from 11 different countries

Fill out this form to get matched with a tutor & book a free trial

Get matched with a tutor & book a free trial

free trial