A couple of recent twitter posts got me updating some old analysis I have done, into the frequency topics appeared and the number of marks awarded for them in each sitting of the Edexcel 1MAo Higher papers. This specification started in June 2012 and there have been 5 sittings in total (Jun ’12, Nov ’12, Mar ’13, Jun ’13 and Nov ’13) – each sitting is worth 200 marks so that makes 1000 marks in total. It makes interesting reading and certainly provided some focus areas. There are a couple of health warnings though:

1. The topic descriptions are purposely quite broad, so for example probability goes from “1 – p” type questions right through to conditional probability, and this will account for it appearing so many times as it may appear in an exam sitting several times at differing levels.

2. Some topics have been combined, such as cumulative frequency and box plots as they will usually be taught together – again they have appeared several times in an exam sitting as separate questions. Another one is HCF/LCM/Product of prime factors – this could include simple “write 525 as a product of its prime factors” through to the bikes around a bike track question, as they are topics that I would teach together as a series of lessons.

3. For the purposes of the below I have only shown those topics that have appeared 5 or more times, as it suggests that they have come up at least once every exam sitting.

4. There is no guarantee that they are likely to appear again, so please don’t use this info to teach to the test – that is not what I am advocating. I just like data!!

Here goes … the topics that have appeared 5 or more times are:


At the top end of these topics, the marks awarded looks slightly different:


Not sure if this is useful or interesting to anyone else …  but for me, it fits right into the idea of focusing on specific topics during the countdown period on the home stretch to the final exams for our current year 11 next July and will stop us using a “shotgun” to target certain topics and instead I think we’ll use the “sniper scope”. Not sure about that as an analogy!  

Just out of curiosity … in the last exam there were about 75 – 80 marks available from the Top 40 topics alone. My year 11s who are aiming for B’s, A’s and A*s know which of these they need to work on, and for them, nailing these topics now, means we can work on other topics and will get them well on their way to exceeding their targets!!