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Re: A level maths question

Posted: Sun May 20, 2018 8:47 am
by Neill Cooper
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 9:54 pm
Ah, there's a formula sheet. I don't remember a formula sheet back in my day, although my school didn't do OCR for Mathematics. Where we had formula sheets, you had to spend time remembering which formulae were on the sheet and which weren't - I remember getting this wrong in Physics and so I hadn't remembered a formula I needed.
I think all A level boards have had formula books for maths since the 2000 revision. They include such things as the PMCC formula for the regression coefficient r as well as geometric series, the quotient rule and integration by parts formula, as well as statistics tables. About 8 pages of formulae (covering all A level maths and Further maths) and 16 pages of statistics tables. In my revision lessons I give pupils the formula book so that they are used to it in preparation for the exams.

Re: A level maths question

Posted: Sun May 20, 2018 9:01 am
by Neill Cooper
Julie Denning wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 7:32 am
I recall about a quarter of a century ago attending a parents' evening at the secondary school my daughter was about to move up to. I asked a maths teacher whether they still covered things like log tables and slide rules. After some thought she retorted "only out of historical interest". She went on to say that students would soon need a calculator, albeit only a basic one, but noted that some turned up with the sort of calculator you'd have if you were studying for an engineering degree. I was minded to point out that I never owned any sort of electronic calculator until after I'd graduated with an engineering degree, but after the original put down I decided that discretion was called for in the time-honoured fashion of drawing myself up to my full height and walking out under the door. (Not difficult in my case, I hear you all say.)

I still reckon that once you were familiar with its use, and acknowledging the level of accuracy it could achieve, using a slide rule was at least as quick as using a calculator. You also had to have an appreciation of at least the order of magnitude of the answer to expect as it didn't tell you where to put the decimal point. It didn't fail, freeze, require batteries, an internet connection ….. Brilliant!
The use of tables for A level maths has only been dropped this year. This is because candidates are now expected to have calculators which can evaluate cumulative binomial distribution (and normal, Poisson) probabilities. Even so tables are still required for A level further maths - and would be used for part (iii) of the question, (Critical values of the PMCC).

With no calculators when I was at school I found repetition meant I learnt such things as root 2, root 10, log 2, log 3, sin 60 etc off by heart. My students are amazed when I produce do such calculations without a calculator.

For the past 10 years I have given a year 9 maths masterclass for the royal institution. It is on 'half life' and includes an introduction to logarithms. Pupils there are shocked when I produce my book of log tables. I do then go on to explain how logs themselves are crucial for solving problems such as 2^x = 10, and show them how to solve it easily on their calculator.

Re: A level maths question

Posted: Sun May 20, 2018 9:15 am
by Neill Cooper
One interesting thing about the question is that the average grade of the 20 'randomly chosen chess players' is 3600/20 = 180, a realistic value, but rather higher than the average grade of all graded chess players.

Re: A level maths question

Posted: Thu May 24, 2018 4:17 pm
by Stewart Reuben
Roger >Vaguely relevant to how things are taught, but why teach the counting of the pieces off the board? Why not those on the board?<

I have often wondered why chuldren do this. I suspect it is because, at the time of counting, thre are more pieces on the board than off.

I always teach to count the pieces on the board. Those off the board often get muddled up with discarded pieces from another game. Also, when counting on the board you can become more aware of the spatial relationship.
Anothr way of doing it is to pair off the exchanged pieces.

I used to play blindfold chess during the A Level Maths classes. Therefore there may have been an inverse correlation. The better at chess, the less time one spends on maths.