Core Maths - AQA Level 3 Certificate Advanced Mathematical Studies


Core Maths is for students who have achieved a Grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths and who need to be equipped for the mathematical and quantitative demands of Higher Education courses or employment.


Core Maths is a Level 3 one-year course. It is useful and popular for students who are interested in university courses or apprenticeships that involve a lot of quantitative data analysis but do not require A level Mathematics, such as psychology, sports and social science, and natural science and business-related courses.

A primary focus of Core Maths is on using and applying mathematics and statistics to address authentic problems and real-life scenarios, drawn from study, work and life, with a strong emphasis on problem solving.  Additionally, many roles in the workplace require high levels of budget management and problem-solving skills, and Core Maths is designed to equip individuals with these skills.


Over recent years, employers and universities were increasingly finding that students in social sciences, business, psychology, humanities, sciences and health sciences, who were not taking A-level maths, were not sufficiently equipped for certain aspects of their courses or, for that matter, life skills generally – aspects like problem solving, interpretation, estimation and evaluation. Core Maths was set up to prepare students for university study and for careers where a working application of maths or statistics (a little more advanced than GCSE) is relevant and required.

The Level 3 Core Maths Certificate has a greater focus on statistics, which supports students taking Level 3 qualifications in subjects such as biology, chemistry and environmental science, psychology, geography and sociology. For instance, topics such as chi-squared tests, Spearman’s rank correlation, standard deviation, sampling, and significance levels, are all topics that students will need to be practised with in biology, psychology or geography.

The topics included in the qualification develop the quantitative skills required in other Level 3 subjects, enhancing the students’ wider understanding. For example, ‘Exponential growth and decay’ is one of many topics included, that is vital in a range of contexts within other subjects, including:
– Biology- microorganisms in a culture, human population
– Business and economics- investment, savings and compound interest,
   profit and loss and economic growth.

In studying Core Maths, the workload is evened out across your A-level studies. In the second year of A levels, when the content becomes a lot more analytical, you will have completed the Core Maths qualification and have the quantitative skills already in place.

In a situation where a student has not met the minimum GCSE maths requirement, some universities may accept the Core Maths qualification instead. The universities welcome and recognise the value of the Level 3 Core Mathematics qualification. It has been endorsed by the Russell Group universities.

Universities have also lowered entry requirements on one of the A levels, i.e. if a student needed AAB and studied Core Maths alongside but their results were ABB, the university has accepted them due to the extra Core Maths qualification.

The Core Maths qualifications are equivalent to AS Levels in terms of UCAS points, attracting up to 20 UCAS points in the new tariff. Studying these qualifications enhances students' abilities with the mathematical skills and the quantitative reasoning crucial for other Level 3 subjects.

Core Maths also includes lifetime personal finance skills such as running a bank account, credit, investments, mortgages and tax.

What a great thing to have on your CV!

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