The Anonymous Widower

The Quality of Some A-Levels

It would appear that nothing changes here in some subjects. The main news story is that Michael Gove wants to reform A levels and give the universities more control. He states that some A levels don’t prepare some students for their University courses.

Was it ever any different?

When I went to Liverpool University in the 1960s, my maths was good, especially as I had done a Further Maths exam after my normal Pure and Applied Maths. The latter incidentally was dropped soon after I took it, despite it being the most useful to engineers.

Others though, did not have my maths skill, despite having got an A level.  So a lot of my first year was spent relearning maths, so I could be a good engineer.

In fact, the problem was even worse.  Until the year before me, the Engineering Department at Liverpool, got the Maths Department to teach maths. But they had found it was taught so badly, that they took to teaching it themselves.

That was sixty years ago!

I’d love to see a current Maths A level paper and see how much is within my knowledge.


April 3, 2012 - Posted by | News | , ,


  1. I had a similar problem. I read physics and the maths we were expected to have learnt was way above what we had. The attrition rate was high as it was the first year of the university (York) and they had no way of handling the problem. Despite going to school with you, my experience was only 47 years ago, but then I didn’t do further maths!

    Comment by John Wright | April 3, 2012 | Reply

    • I also had George Bullen for A level and he was the best of them!

      Comment by AnonW | April 3, 2012 | Reply

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