Last updated 5 June 2015

Following our Edexcel GCSE Maths (1MA0/1H) exam on Thursday 4 June, there's been a lot of conversation about the content and difficulty of the exam paper. On this page we’ve addressed two commonly occurring themes in your discussions.

Read more

I thought the questions were unlike anything that Pearson have asked in the past

All of this year’s GCSE papers were produced using the same process we’ve used since the start of the qualification. The questions were written in a similar style to previous GCSE Maths exams and all questions tested knowledge outlined in the specification.

I found some of the questions too difficult

Our exam papers are designed by an experienced team of expert teachers with a deep understanding for the subject. When they write an exam, they try to make sure it’s of a similar difficulty to exams we’ve set in the past.

Exam papers need to test the full ability range of students. On our higher-tier maths papers, this means having some questions targeted at the D grade and some questions targeted at the A* grade. Questions usually get more challenging as you progress through the paper.

During marking our examiners monitor students’ actual responses very closely. Once all the work has been marked, our senior examiners decide on the grade boundaries – the minimum mark you need to get a certain grade. The difficulty of the exam paper and feedback from examiners are considered as part of this process.

We have a responsibility to make sure that a student who demonstrates a certain level of performance is awarded the same grade as students who have demonstrated the same level of performance in the past. This means students awarded an A grade this year will have performed to the same level as students awarded an A grade last year.

The process of adjusting grade boundaries to ensure that students are awarded the right grade happens after each exam session and this year’s GCSE Maths papers will be no different. If there is evidence that the exam you took was more challenging (or less challenging), the grade boundaries will reflect this.

Next steps

If you have concerns about the content of any of our exam papers, you should talk to your teacher. They are in the best position to guide you and if they feel they need to formally raise your concerns with us, they can do so on behalf of all students at your centre.

We will issue a formal reply to any centres who contact us with concerns once the grade boundaries have been awarded.