Why Learn A Level Mathematics?

As you must have known throughout your education, mathematics is the one subject you can’t move on without in school. It is an essential subject, and one that you must pass in order to graduate.

Mathematics teaches us skills necessary to our survival in the common world, we use it everyday without even realizing it. We are constantly planning our shopping lists, counting our remaining change, etc.

These things as simple as they might seem require that you perform a mental calculation, or write it down on paper. Either way, mathematics is involved.

mathematics is important to our careers.
Mathematics is important to our careers, many professions consider a knowledge in maths crucial. Photo by Robert Sheie on Visualhunt.com

It is a requirement to pass mathematics in the O’level exams such as JAMB, WAEC, and NECO before you are offered admission into a tertiary institution, as most courses need to teach mathematics in the university. But that is the more conventional method for gaining admission into a tertiary institution in Nigeria.

An alternative as you might have already guessed is by sitting for A level exams. By writing advanced level or A-Level Exams You get a direct entry into 200L in the university. 

A-level programs consist of a 9 to 10 months training and classes before sitting for the actual exams, it usually consists of two semesters, students are certified upon completion of the program. 

To gain admission into a particular course in the university using A level, subjects you select from the A level program must tally with the course you want to partake in.

For instance, engineering courses would require you to take physics and maths, and probably chemistry too. For accounting, students would take mathematics, economics, and the likes.

Mathematics is a core subject in many courses in the university, subjects use its formulas and concepts and theories to carry out calculations. To be successfully granted admission into the university, writing mathematics in 'A level' might be a choice you have to make.

This is so because mathematics is a key area of study for those seeking a career in the engineering, technical, finance, economics, science and information tech sectors.

So, depending on your area of interest, mathematics could be a relevant subject you must study and pass in A levels.

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A Guide To A-Level Mathematics Syllabus

A-level programs are programs designed as alternatives to furthering one’s education after secondary school, they teach advanced level topics in the subject courses there, and once done, you get a direct entry into a tertiary institution of your choice.

The mathematics syllabus for A level programs usually cover same or similar topics, they all consist of advanced level maths. Some sample topics include trigonometric functions, differentiation and integration, quadratic equations, polynomials, operations on matrices, partial differentiation, hyperbolic functions, limits and continuity, and complex numbers.

You have to understand there are several different types of A level programs in Nigeria, all accredited by the Federal government, and different universities accept different A level certifications.

But despite that fact, the maths topics and lessons remain relatively the same, and only slight variations occur since every program has its standards and teaching methods.

Many students opt for advanced level programs to gain admission into the university.
Many students opt for advanced level programs to gain admission into the university, the experience they gain helps them with the complexity of university life. Photo by reteach92 on Pixabay.com

A few things they all have in common, however, is that upon completion, you will be admitted directly into 200L at the university. It takes about 9 to 10 months to complete, could be less, depending on which program you decide to take, as some are more flexible than others.

Then finally, the topics they teach are all advanced level, meaning they are on a par with the tertiary level , more specifically 100L at the university.

The A-level programs require that you obtain a direct entry form from JAMB to apply to a university.

We are going to briefly look at some of the top A-level programs in Nigeria, each with its features.

Cambridge A Level Exams

Perhaps the most popular in the world, Cambridge A-Level is one of the most undertaken A level exam in the world, and no surprise there, we also have them right here in Nigeria.

Originated from the Cambridge University UK, it is one of the earliest A level programs to grace our education system. Cambridge-A-level can be used to gain admission into a university both local or abroad.

Here in Nigeria, universities in the southern states such as Ibadan, Lagos, AkureNsukka and a few others accept the Cambridge A level certification, than the universities in the Northern states.

There are two opportunities to sit for Cambridge A-level exams, every year around May/June, and later down the line around September/October. To register, you have to check for accredited centers near you and apply. Each center is moderated and coordinated by Cambridge University, UK.

After each semester you will write tests which are 30% of the overall scores of the A level program, and the exams 70% of the scores. To join, you can find various independent study centers or ones attached to tertiary institutions and apply.

The program is conducted twice a year with two semesters each, for a duration of 5 to 10 months, depending on your schedule, you can arrange to make it as convenient for you as possible.

This flexibility is what makes Cambridge A-Level the most appropriate for people with jobs and mature students. 

To enroll, you just need your O'level result and JAMB result. Unlike JAMB though, the Cambridge A level result doesn’t expire and can be used for life.

NABTEB A-Level Exams

NABTEB is widely known as an O'level exam, but what most are not aware of is an A level equivalent exist.

NABTEB A-LEVEL is of two types; Advanced National Business Certificate (ANBC), and Advanced National Technical Certificate (ANTC). NABTEB's A level certificates ANBC and ANTC are equivalent to NCE and OND certificates.

NABTEB A-Level program offers all the subjects for courses offered by all Nigerian universities. Mathematics, English, the sciences, arts, history, you name it.

To enroll in the NABTEB A-Level program, a pass in English and mathematics are some of the major requirements, along with 3 other subjects from an O level exam.

After the completion of the program you will be admitted into 200L of any tertiary institution of your choice in Nigeria, and even in some countries abroad.

In situations where you need a promotion in the work place, or it is suddenly required a company's workers need at least an OND or NCE to continue working there, then sitting for NABTEB A Level might be a good thing to consider.

Besides its overall usefulness, NABTEB A-Level is considerably cheaper than most of the others. 

IJMB Course

IJMB is short for Interim Joint Matriculation Board, created and moderated by ABU Zaria, established in 1976, it was the first ever A level program in Nigeria. 

IJMB is offered in many universities nationwide, and accepted by most of them. It’s a 9 month course, separated into two semesters. After each semester there are rounds of tests and an exam.

The subjects are categorised based on courses offered in the university, each combination has three subjects. For instance, if you want to study medicine, the IJMB subject combinations are mathematics, biology and chemistry. 

You can find the full list of IJMB subject combinations here.

IJMB is one of the most thorough of the A level programs in the country, the syllabus and teaching expertise is quite outstanding. Students who did IJMB are always a step ahead of their mates at the university.

JUPEB Exams

Next up is JUPEB, it is a joint A level program by Nigerian universities led by the University of Lagos.

To enroll in JUPEB, like the others you just need an O level result and a JAMB result. JUPEB candidates are required to select three subject combinations and one general course subject such as English or biology.

It runs for 9-10 months divided up into two semesters, and once done, you will be able to apply to 200L of any university of your choice in Nigeria, using JAMB Direct Entry (D.E) form.

See full list of universities that accept JUPEB in Nigeria.

These are the four major A level programs in Nigeria. Each with it’s unique features and characteristics, they offer students a variety of learning options, ones that fit best with their schedule and needs.

Learn more about obtaining your exams timetable and preparing for the Maths A-level way ahead of time.

Past Questions For A-Level Mathematics And Revision Guide

The best place to get revision material and past question papers is usually on the official websites of the exam boards themselves, or the websites of some of the main exam facilitator.

Some of the learning materials are still being compiled and uploaded by the exam boards, so you may not be able to find the latest exam past questions, like ones for last year for instance, or earlier this year.

But what you will be able to find is enough past questions to satisfy even the hungriest of students, what is available is sufficient for any revisions you may want to do.

Revising through past question papers makes you become good at your A level mathematics, and through much practice you will eventually master it. 

But most importantly, you will become familiar with the way the questions are set, from objectives (or multiple choice questions), to theory, you will be able to know how they are set in the A level program you chose, and prepare yourself accordingly.

So that during exams, you will drastically reduce the risk of pressure on yourself, which is a crisis most students go through during exams if they are not well prepared.

Just revising in most cases is not enough, you have to plan it by having a revision timetable. A revision timetable will help you stay accountable.

That no matter what, you would stay up that night, and you will read. You wouldn’t have the time to procrastinate, because of the pressure to commit to your timetable.

Secondly, having a timetable will increase your productivity ten-fold, because you wouldn’t just be flipping through pages and changing subjects at will, or when you feel like it.

You will stay organised and focused through your reading/revision sessions, since each subject is allocated a time.

Overall, a revision timetable can help ease your study therefore reducing unnecessary stress that you might otherwise would have incurred because of the exams, and lack of organization.

A revision timetable provides you with clarity during your studies, you know exactly what to do and when to do it. Now that is advanced studying. Mathematics being one of the core subjects of most A level programs, it is imperative to revise it often and get acquainted with it.

Probably because of its infamous popularity, its resources are conveniently one of the easiest to find online.

Of course you can choose to revise and study with private tutors, group of friends, and with your lecturers after school hours, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still have to make time to study and revise on your own time.

A-Level Exams Timetable And Opportunities To Resit

As much as we loved things to go perfectly for us sometimes they don’t, and we may end up  re-taking the exams because of a failed subject or our overall grades are below the minimum requirement.

This may be due to illness, missing a paper or two and quite frankly, not revising enough. It could also be that the student struggled to keep up with the course, or they didn’t achieve the required grades, or simply because of circumstances outside of their control, like the illness we just mentioned.

To resit an A level exam, you need the same requirements as your first sitting, an o'level result and JAMB result.

Most A-level exams usually begin registrations towards the ending of the year, between September and November, and start lectures at the beginning of the year, January.

All of the exam bodies offering A level subjects have information about when they are starting and closing on their websites, and besides, they publicize every time they are open for registrations for their programs.

Taking A-Level Mathematics As An Adult

Some adults may end up needing a maths qualification if they want to move on with their career, perhaps because of a promotion or training. Others, may just want to improve their resume, or adapt and learn maths skills for its own sake.

Whatever the case may be, adults are a big part of the advanced level community, and most of the programs are fashioned to fit with their needs.

Adults need to go to work, they need to take care of others and time is not something they have much of, that is why some of these A level programs you have to love them.

Instead of stooping down to write JAMB and WAEC, then hope to pass both and then apply to a university, most adults opt for a 7-9 month A-level program instead, which you will take on at your own pace and when it’s convenient for you.

IJMB is a bit stringent for that kind of arrangement though, so take note.

Cambridge A level program is more to the tune of what we are talking about. The others like JUPEB and NABTEB may depend on the centers facilitating these exams.

Preparing to take A level at a mature age? No problem, the programs are flexible to accommodate you.
Preparing to take A level at a mature age? No problem, the programs are flexible to accommodate you. Photo by University of Minnesota Duluth on VisualHunt

It may be tempting to just hire an independent math tutor to go through the lessons with them and simply take the exams when the time comes, but we strongly advise against that, it may cost you.

We advise you enroll with the program's classes as you will have better access to the relevant resources needed to ace that course.

Not to worry though, many A level courses/subjects offer flexible learning and with varying lengths to accommodate your livelihood needs as an adult and your educational needs.

The Value Mathematics Gives To Our Everyday Life

Believe it or not, maths is everywhere, and in everything we do. It grants a level of integrity to our finances by letting us plan and calculate our spending, and it provides us with finite values, to make sense of the world around us.

Mathematics is practical in the sense that we use it to count in our everyday life, from simple arithmetic involving additions and subtraction, such as with counting money, to mighty formulas involving what might only be described as a recipe for a headache.

Maths additionally allows you to obtain transferable skills, meaning skills you can use at things other than pure maths. Such as in business for calculating returns, in grocery shopping for calculating costs, and for pretty much everything that has to do with logical reasoning.

Remember when you have to solve a puzzle, or figure out how a machine works before you can fix it, a person with maths skills will easily deal with such exercises because mathematics has honed their pattern recognition skills, problem solving skills and other related cognitive skills.

The ability to solve problems quickly is a highly sought after trait by employers and a commendable one, because it makes you very useful in many situations.

Especially in the workplace, where everything seems to be a problem that needs to be solved 'ASAP'.

Mathematics allows us to assimilate other school subjects easily. It serves as a framework for all calculation based problems, and so other subjects uses its principles and functions to solve their calculations.

Back in primary and secondary school, the kids who knew maths well can pull all sorts of amazing academic calisthenics.

That is because of maths prowess as a subject that honed their cognitive abilities. They can recognize patterns better, have better understanding of quantitative problems, and are good decision makers.

Furthermore, people with maths qualifications are often paid higher and climb to lush positions quickly as a direct result of their math knowledge and skills.

As you can see from the above, mathematics can drastically affect your chances in a career, even though it has a lot to do with what career path you chose in the first place, but it still affects many, many careers that way.

Careers in the science and technical sectors, and sometimes finance, such as information tech, banking and data analysis are those most intertwined with mathematics.

That’s why some adults go back to write advanced level mathematics, it helps them further their learning and careers.

As a student you need maths, as a professional or a business person you need it too, everyone does maths in their everyday dealings. In one way or the other.

Business owners can attest to the fact maths is in their everyday life, they need to account for every penny. They are constantly evaluating earnings (or loss), checking the changes in prices and adjusting accordingly, and they need to be calculating taxes.

To make sure you operate your business properly, you need to ensure there is enough cash flow to cover the capital costs and expenses, so you must know how much to charge for your product to make sure your business is earning profit.

And also, from time to time there is need to sit and project your calculations for the next several years to come, after you have thrown in all the variables like taxes, labour expenses, etc, to see if the business will still be sustainable or you are just wasting your time and resources.

Sounds a bit overwhelming if you are not trying to run a business, but applying your maths knowledge is very very useful if you are.  

Everything we have made mention of is part of everyday existence, and we just saw that, and to function, they all need the direct intervention of mathematics skills. So, in every which way mathematics is present, it helps make our lives easier.

Every time you budget, crunch numbers, and basically use rational thinking and logic, you are flexing your maths muscles.

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Hafiz

Hafiz is a freelance writer who has an appetite for creativity and smart tech. He also dabbles in poetry.