How to do an AQA GCSE Maths Past Paper

 If you are doing AQA maths GCSE and want to improve your grade massively you need 2 things:

 – Excellent subject knowledge

 – Brilliant exam technique

Here I’m going to cover exam technique.

I’m going to start with the Higher Non-Calculator paper, find it here.

You’ll find that these exams usually follow the same format:

Questions 1 to 4: Multiple choice, easy, but also easy to slip up if you’re rushing or stressed.

Questions 5 to 14: Fairly simple, big chunky marks, easy if you’ve put the work in.

Questions 15 to 20: Generally involve a bit more problem solving, tests deeper knowledge of maths.

Questions 21 to the end: Level 8/9 questions, I will show you how to master these in due course.

–> Exam TIP: Before you start your exam, have a quick read through every page. Put a small dot in pencil next to any question that you feel you might struggle with. Smile when you see one you think will be manageable.

This will help you relax and help you manage your time more effectively.

Let’s start with question 1:

It literally says: Here are 2 right angled triangles. Circle the correct value of y.

Say what?

When I read this question and if I was doing this exam for fun, I would be tempted to write something like ‘y could be anything’. 

But, I’m assuming they meant to also add in something like: Triangle 2 is an enlargement of triangle 1.

So yes, this question is to do with the topic of enlargement. I personally think it’s ambiguous and maybe they are trying to throw you off at the first question.

If that happens in your real exam: Leave it and come back to it later when you’ve completed some questions as you will be in a better frame of mind and find it easier to spot the patterns in the numbers.

In this case if we look at the 2 lengths of the bases of the triangles, you can see it increases from 10 to 15. This means that triangle 1 is 2/3 the size of triangle 2.

10 divided by 2 = 5

5 multiplied by 3 = 15.

PLEASE DO NOT ADD OR SUBTRACT when dealing with enlargements. 


So, this means the other side which is 6 on the smaller triangle can be calculated as:

6 divided by 2 = 3.

3 multiplied by 3 = 9.

If you found this question confusing or are unsure how to enlarge numbers with fractions you need to practice the following topics:

 – Fractions

 – Multiplying fractions

 – Percentages

 – Times tables

Question 2: 

Work out the value of (1 and 2/3) ^2

The options they give you are very tricksy, particularly if you are rushing or stressed out. 

Be careful to square the entire fraction and not just the 2/3 part!

Change the fraction to a top heavy fraction: 5/3

and then square the top and bottom numbers: 25/9

Change back to a mixed number and the answer you get should be 2 and 7/9. 

Practise your fractions and times tables if you found this question confusing. 

Also learn the first 20 square numbers by heart:

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