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Great Mathematicians do more that just GCSE and A-Level

It is to my shame that I used to think that the mathematics in the BTEC Engineering was A-level maths lite. However, after taking through the course very many successful and talented engineers I am firmly no longer of that opinion.

For example, all of the differentiation and integration techniques studied during A-level are used in the BTEC Engineering course ( except implicit differentiation which is a shame as it is one of my personal favourites ). But a big difference is that A-level students have until December of Year 13 to get their heads around both these vast areas, BTEC students will have used all the differentiation methods by the end of Year 12.

Towards the second half of Year 13, BTEC students will have seen techniques that are not even covered by the A-level mathematics course. Complex numbers, matrices, Maclaurin Series are only studied in the Further Maths A-level syllabus, for example.

This is not to say that the standards of mathematics needed for BTEC are impossible to achieve. The knowledge is not tested by an examination so support can always be found to clarify any understanding. However, to get the coveted distinction grade, every answer must be correct and you are not allowed to even get away with even a single algebraic or numerical error. Mastery is required of each technique which includes writing about what you are actually doing, a thought that will seem very foreign to many A-level students.

The students of NUAST have opened my eyes to the challenge and enjoyment of the BTEC engineering course. It provides a great foundation for an exciting career as can be seen by my ex-students who have gone off to university or to apprenticeships with Rolls Royce, Aerospace and Mercedes Formula 1 to name but a few.

A-Level Maths Teacher and BTEC supporter

May 2024


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