Next up is the Edexcel equivalent to the OCR paper I sat. Their calculator papers are Paper 2 and 3 (out of 3). This is Paper 2.

I needed the calculator a bit more on this paper.

Time Allowed : 1 hour 30 minutes

Time Taken: 2 hours-ish whilst watching ‘Fringe Season 4 Episode 1’, and Groundhog Day. Also ate a curry and drank some beer, which may well have affected things a little.

The paper itself is hosted on Edexcel’s website. The link below will open in a new tab directly onto Page 135, where the paper begins – assuming you’re using a decent browser (hint: not explorer). You’ll want to scroll through as we go, or print it and have it next to you. I’m not posting the pages on here as I’m a bit conscious about copyright stuff (apart from the photo above!). I’ll update the OCR one accordingly too.

Question 1 was very straight forward. There seems to be a LOT of emphasis on proofs, multiples and primes in this paper.

Q2 asks to prove that ‘x cannot be a multiple of 6’. I think students won’t like these kinds of question, as they’re not simple ‘get the answer’ questions, but more about deduction of general rules and patterns. As before, really would appreciate your thoughts too in the comments.

Question 3 and already things are getting a bit nasty. There are conversions to be made (= mistakes for students) and profit needs to be converted into a percentage (students will miss this step). There’s a lot of work to be done in this question, which again feels new. I don’t recall so much needed so early in a paper. I also have a terrible memory. My immediate thought after this question was that without the ‘easing’ into the paper that has been common up to now, is there a risk of students being really put off before they get stuck in?

Question 4 is a nice puzzler, and it’s a shame there aren’t more questions like this rather than boring recipe questions like the one before. Two thumbs up.

Question 5 is a bearings question that is a bit tricky and I think could easily stump some students. It also has a sneaky pythag question in there which I like. There was a sneaky pythag question in OCR too. Is this a thing now?

Curiously the mark scheme makes no mention of Sin40, and instead opts for Cos50. So we’re assuming *all* markers will be fine with deducing Sin40 IS Cos50?? Seems like they should probably put a note in the marks. The same happens later on where the answer in the mark scheme is given as sqrt(20) but there’s no mention of accepting 2sqrt(5)

I like the question but already this paper seems a lot harder than the OCR one. Everything seems more ‘figure it out on your own’ than before. What do you think?

I didn’t like the next question. At this point I started to notice there seem to be lots of opportunities for students to miss a bit out on a question, or forget to convert something, or not check as to how an answer needs to be presented. As the paper progressed I even started to feel like they were writing questions with a view to tripping students up, which hopefully isn’t the case!

In part (c) I imagine a LOT of students will forget to put the value of ‘n’ back into the nth term to get the final value. If you’re lost here, did you forget to open the paper? Link These notes won’t make much sense unless you’re looking at the exam paper questions at the same time!

Q7 is reading from charts. It was OK but the tolerance in the mark scheme seemed a little strange to me. I felt it should start and end a bit higher.

Q8 and we’re back to proofs and primes and multiples. Didn’t like this question either. Part b felt like it needed a difficult algebraic proof, but it didn’t, just a deduction using words. They feel a bit too subjective to me. So far only one question felt ‘fun’ to me. Why can’t you examiners write FUN questions?! So boring…

The next question had a real sucker punch. It’s kind of easy_easy_easy OHMYGOD WHAT DO I DO NOW?! I suspect a LOT of students will mess up the final part, and once again, it involves conversions and things “Ooh, I KNOW what will make them get this wrong… put this in Larry!” (note, I have no idea if there is a Larry working for Edexcel, or if they even thought like this!).

The next question needed circle theorems. I instinctively went for the wrong one then thought better of it. It’s harder than the OCR circle question, but I still feel like they could be more creative with these. Wait until you see the brilliant one in the AQA paper 😀

Venn Diagrams!! This is new on the curriculum, and I fell hook line and sinker for the stupid answer. I drew out a Venn that made no sense if you look at the data, but I bet a lot of students will do the same (just trying to feel better about being an idiot). I blame Bill Murray’s irresistible wit, and delicious beer. As soon as I looked at this question as a puzzle, it became fun.

Next is another sneaky pythag question (what is it with sneaky pythag?!)

I liked this one to be fair. Solve simultaneous linear / quadratic intersection thingy, turn it into right angled triangle, find missing side.

Q14. Nearly there, and what a HORRIBLE question this one is. It requires a massive reverse engineering job on a histogram, and interestingly leaves very little space to do it on the paper (maybe I missed a few tricks??) Ugly and leaves a lot of areas to make silly mistakes in. Clever question though, but I HATE IT!!!

Final question, and more than anything I was just really bored. Shame. Probably beer. This one was also fiddly and annoying. Lots of working out, but not very rewarding afterwards. I had lost the will to live at this point.

Well. Overall I thought this paper was a LOT harder than the OCR paper. Lots of places to slip up, lots of emphasis on proofs, primes, multiples, and lots of fairly dull, overly long questions.

There were a few nice ones like the circles puzzle, but they were complimented by the likes of ‘real life’ question about cooking (sigh) which was at least less ridiculous than the tree measurer from OCR. Difficult and dull. Like looking in a mirror.

I’m glad that the papers seem to be getting more difficult, which was kind of the point, but current Year 9 will likely struggle as the first guinea pigs through the door.

Any ideas on what the grade boundaries will be?

they haven’t been announced, but I think they’re going to do it ‘old style’ along the lines of top 5% of marks gets a ‘9’ or something similar. Just speculating though.

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