31 May 2016

Useful GCSE Questions from Linked Pair Papers

If you attended any training on the new GCSE last summer then you may have been advised to look through Linked Pair papers for questions on new GCSE topics. It's a nice idea, but what teacher has time to trawl through past exam papers?

A year later, I've now taught Linked Pair (for the first and last time) so I have a better idea of whether the Linked Pair papers are actually helpful. Before you start searching through papers, here are a few caveats:
  • There are loads of topics in Linked Pair (spreadsheets, flowcharts, AER, linear programming, moving averages etc) that are not in the new GCSE.
  • There are some new GCSE topics that are not in Linked Pair such as functions, iteration and quadratic inequalities.
  • There are a few topics in Linked Pair that are in the new 9 - 1 GCSE - so this is where the papers are helpful (ie Venn diagrams, quadratic sequences, gradient of a curve and area under a graph). 
  • There are also some lovely challenging questions in Linked Pair papers - on familiar topics such as bounds, angles and forming equations - which might be helpful in lessons. I've shared some examples below. 
The easiest way to access past exam questions - rather than trawling through papers - is to use a test building tool (AQA's Exampro, Edexcel's ExamWizard, OCR's ExamCreator or Eduqas's Question Bank). I think these tools are really useful for creating resources such as homeworks and end of year exams, so a worthwhile investment for a maths department.

The topic 'compound measures' has grown in the new GCSE. It can be hard to find resources for teaching density so you'll be pleased to hear that there are some good questions in Linked Pair exams. There's a nice example below. I've put a worksheet on TES containing this question and similar density questions.
Applications 2 Higher, Edexcel, June 2015, Question 16

Compound measures links really nicely with bounds - it's good to see an exam question that combines these two topics.
Applications 2 Higher, Edexcel, June 2013, Question 17

Forming expressions
Linked Pair GCSE papers contain a lot of questions in which students have to form expressions. This question takes some thinking - it really stumped some of my students:
Applications 1 Higher, Edexcel, June 2014, Question 20

This question tests understanding of angles in polygons:
Methods 2 Higher, Edexcel, Specimen Paper, Question 7

My class struggled with this angles question in their mock exam this year:
Applications 1 Higher, Edexcel, November 2015, Question 2

Did you like Hannah's sweets? Try this one!

Methods 1 Higher, Edexcel, November 2015, Question 24

Percentages and Ratios
The Applications module in Linked Pair contains quite a lot of wordy questions that EAL students may struggle with. Here are a couple of examples. These might be worth trying with new GCSE classes.
Applications 1 Higher, Edexcel, Specimen Paper, Question 15

Applications 2 Higher, Edexcel, Specimen Paper, Question 7

I have loads more examples of interesting Linked Pair questions, but in order to keep this post to a manageable length I'll leave it there!

What are your favourite GCSE questions? I'd love to see them.


  1. these look great. You don't happen to have them all saved as a single document do you?

    1. Hi. I've put all my favourite Linked Pair questions here for you (all except the density questions which can you get from the resource I loaded to TES). Hope this helps.

  2. as always, you are a star!! Thank you Jo

  3. These look great. I don't suppose there are any answers to your set of favourite questions anywhere?

    1. Hi. I don't have them in one place, sorry. But with each question I included the year/paper/question number so it should be relatively quick to get them from the mark schemes: https://mrbartonmaths.com/students/linked-pair-pilot/edexcel.html