Foundation tier

These pages contain guidance and support materials for the Foundation tier. There are, however, some overarching points which may help your thinking when preparing students for exams.

The Subject Content section of the specification has a column highlighting all content deemed Higher tier only. This will not be assessed in the Foundation tier.

The rules on assessment mean that students can mix and match their tier of entry across units, with their combined UMS being the only factor determining their overall grade. A student who only takes Foundation tier assessment will, therefore, not be able to get higher than a Grade C, but a student taking any one unit at the Higher tier could access higher grades.

Fundamental number skills permeate the whole specification. We have tried to ensure that Assessment Guidance is as comprehensive as possible. The weighting of number work at the Foundation tier is greater than the Higher tier and there is less focus on algebraic skills. The targeted breakdown for each unit is:

  Number Statistics Algebra Geometry Total Raw
UMS Exam Time (min)
Unit1 F 14 40     54 55 60
Unit2 F 44   22   66 69 75
Unit3 F 15   15 50 80 83 90

Around half of the marks on each paper are targeted at the bottom two grades available so lower ability students should be able to access a number of marks and have a rewarding exam experience.

In line with QCDA requirement, 30–40% of Foundation tier marks will also test Functional elements. These questions often are presented as problems in real life situations. Whilst testing these skills prepares students for the kind of Maths they will use when leaving education, it usually involves greater literacy skills. Experience indicates that candidates become more comfortable with these questions after practice. You will find a bank of Functional Skills questions on Exampro.

Each unit assesses all of the Assessment Objectives, but weightings vary. More detail is provided on subsequent pages, but the past papers and practice papers can be used to prepare learners for the style and nature of questions in live assessment.