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GCSE maths research complete

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A levels and GCSEs

In January we began a research programme looking at differences across the four reformed and accredited GCSE maths specifications – those of AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC. The work has comprised four strands:

Strand 1

Based on the views of mathematicians, what is the relative mathematical demand of questions in the sample assessment materials of the specifications?

Strand 2

Based on a sample of current Year 11 students sitting the sample assessment materials, what is the relative difficulty of questions across the specifications?

Strand 3

Based on maths experts’ views of students’ model answers, which questions from the specifications elicit the best mathematical problem-solving?

Strand 4

Based on the views of maths experts, how do problem-solving questions vary across the specifications?


We said that we would look to complete our research by the end of April, and we have met that goal. All the data is in from the different strands and we are currently drawing together the findings from across the programme. We have three independent experts looking at the work we’ve done to provide added assurance that the conclusions we are drawing are appropriate. As part of pulling this evidence together we are identifying any actions that we may want to take and we will make those decisions public in mid-May.

Our programme of research has been a huge undertaking. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 35 mathematicians who made 35,000 judgements in strand 1; the 3,865 students who sat papers in 30 different schools and the four principal examiners and 50 markers who marked the papers in strand 2; the 33 maths experts who judged and the 2 classes of students in strand 3 who worked through the problem solving questions; and five maths experts who provided their analysis in strand 4. I’d also like to thank all other teachers, students, and parents for your patience over the past few months while we have completed this important work.

With that said, I’m now going back to looking at the results and working with my colleagues to reach firm decisions before our announcement.

Dr Ian Stockford
Acting Executive Director for General Qualifications, Ofqual

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  1. Comment by Dominic Foglietta posted on

    Is it too much to ask official bodies to use the word MATHEMATICS?

  2. Comment by Simon Stott posted on

    I would simply like an expected time that the findings will be shared - whilst it should not inhibit too much the start of the next year, the earlier we can start preparing the better

  3. Comment by Keith posted on

    So how much longer do we have to wait, schools do have to get ready to teach in September.

  4. Comment by Bea Stokes posted on

    I have now been teaching the new GCSE for 8 months and have not yet been able to purchase supporting materials for our students. I assume that if the research shows that changes are needed, the boards will then be given time to resubmit and then have to be reaccredited. We now only have 8 weeks left until the end of the academic year. Can you assure us that we will be fully ready for the start of the next academic year?

  5. Comment by Kieran posted on

    It's the middle of May now! Hurry up please.

  6. Comment by Ian Stockford posted on

    We will be reporting on our GCSE Maths research findings on Thursday 21 May.

  7. Comment by Shanks Choudhury posted on

    Thank goodness for that! Was beginning to lose all hope!

  8. Comment by Fred Bloggs posted on

    Well it's Thursday 21 May 2015 and no sign of the report. I guess Ian was talking about Thursday 21 May 2020?