30 January 2016

New GCSE: Pythagoras Questions

This week my department took a detailed look at GCSE sample questions for topics that are coming up on our Year 10 Scheme of Work. This was the most useful thing we've ever done in a department meeting! We used Mel's (@Just_Maths) excellent Questions by Topic resources.

I worked through the Higher Pythagoras questions. Have you looked at these in detail? It's well worth doing. The questions are excellent. They will be challenging for even our highest attainers. I usually use a nice set Pythagoras problems when I teach Pythagoras at GCSE but I think I'm going to have to up my game.

Let's take a look at some of the new GCSE questions.

Here's a three mark question from OCR. Have a go. I think my students would find this pretty challenging. They need to know Pythagoras and how to work with surds 'backwards' (I don't do enough of this when I teach surds...).

Here's another question - this is a four marker from AQA. It's a great question... Again, a different level of challenge to what we're used to at GCSE level.
This question is from Edexcel - here we have bounds and Pythagoras:

And this question is from OCR. It's not quite as challenging as the others though there are a lot of steps.

Finally, here's another question from AQA. I particularly like this one.

All of these examples show that new GCSE questions will often combine two or more topics. Rightly so. Previous GCSE questions often treated topics in isolation.

When you're planning your Year 10 Pythagoras lessons I recommend that you try the rest of the sample questions. Even the 3D Pythagoras question has a spin on it. There's some really great problems here. These questions also remind us of the notable step up in challenge level that we're dealing with. I'm trying not to panic! We have our work cut out.

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