Subject content

The subject content of this specification matches that set out in the Department for Education’s Mathematics GCSE subject content and assessment objectives document. This content is common to all exam boards.

The content has been organised into broad topic areas and given a reference as follows:

  • Number references start with N

  • Algebra references start with A

  • Ratio, proportion and rates of change references start with R

  • Geometry and measures references start with G

  • Probability references start with P

  • Statistics references start with S.

All content can be assessed on any of the three question papers. As such, some questions will draw together elements of maths from different topic areas.

The weighting of the topic areas has been prescribed by Ofqual and is common to all exam boards. The table below shows the approximate weightings of the topic areas for the overall tier of assessment, not for each individual question paper.

Topic Area Foundation Tier (%) Higher Tier (%)
Number 25 15
Algebra 20 30
Ratio 25 20
Geometry 15 20
Probability and statistics (combined) 15 15

The subject content, aims and learning outcomes, and assessment objectives sections of this specification set out the knowledge, skills and understanding common to all GCSE Mathematics exams.

Within this specification, the assessment will reflect the key concepts of the subject as articulated in the subject content and assessment objectives document.

In line with the requirements set by the Department for Education, the expectation is that:

  • all students will develop confidence and competence with the content identified in the “basic foundation content” column
  • all students will be assessed on the content identified by the “basic foundation content” and “additional foundation content” columns; more highly attaining students will develop confidence and competence with all of this content
  • only the more highly attaining students will be assessed on the content identified in the “higher content” column. The highest attaining students will develop confidence and competence with this content.

Students can be said to have confidence and competence with mathematical content when they can apply it flexibly to solve problems.

The content in the "basic foundation content" column and "additional foundation content" column can be assessed on Foundation tier question papers.

All content can be assessed on Higher tier question papers.

Notes are added to exemplify some of the specification references.

In addition to this subject content, students should be able to recall, select and apply mathematical formulae. See the Appendix for a list of the DfE prescribed formulae.

Subject content areas