Archive for the ‘GCSE Assessment’ Category

End-of-term GCSE activity: Sherlock Holmes mathematical mystery

July 12, 2011 17 comments

Looking for a fun and engaging way to fill an end-of-term lesson?  Download this free resource: 

"Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Devil's Eye" - a mathematical adventure in six thrilling epsiodes. Click to download pdf - it's a 9MB file so may take a short while.

Set in modern day London, Sherlock Holmes has been called in by Scotland Yard to investigate the theft of the world’s largest ruby, the Devil’s Eye. Stolen from Harrods, the police have nothing to go on except a few mathematical clues.

Your students’ challenge is to solve the clues to help Holmes and Watson work out where they must go next.

We first published this story last Autumn as a competition in six episodes.  Due to their continuing popularity on this blog, we’ve assembled all the episodes into this single booklet.  All the clues are designed as AO2 or AO3 problem-solving questions, they all carry a GCSE grade, and the booklet is free for you to download.  Best of all, if you’re subscriber you can also get a… 

FREE Print copy for Subscribers

Leave a comment on this post and we’ll send one out to you!

Any UK-based Secondary Maths teacher can subscribe to this blog: enter your school email address in the box top right of the screen and we’ll post a free copy.  Subscription is free, you will not be spammed and we will not share your details with any third parties.


Here’s what you told us

Last month we conducted a survey of our subscribers to find out what you really think!  After 18 months of blogging, we were curious…

Q. If the blog stopped tomorrow, which of these statements would best describe your attitude? (Tick only one)


Well, that was a relief.  No-one ticked the “Happy – all the email updates annoy me” box.  We’ll do our best to keep it that way.  Thank you for your support.

Q. How long did you read the blog before you subscribed to it? (Tick only one)


This result took us by surprise.  We had no idea the decision to subscribe was taken so quickly.

Q. Before you started this survey, who did you think writes and produces the blog? (Tick all that apply)

This response made us smile.  We can say definitively that we are Longman, which is part of Pearson Education.  Either of those would have been correct, so a majority of you were on the right track.  We are not part of AQA and definitely not Nelson Thornes (greatly though we esteem those organisations)!

Q. If we were to cut down the types of activities we were going to provide on the blog to just four, which of the following types would you want to keep? (Tick four only)

Harder to read this slide, so here’s a summary: the most votes went to “GCSE new-style practice questions and papers”.  We hear you – we’ll keep them coming and make sure we offer all the support we can through the Summer exam season. 

Our topical resources came in as next most popular.  Collectively, there were 42 votes for our topical lesson plans and activities relating to:

  • “…major sporting events” – for example, our World Cup posters last year – 16 votes
  • “…major non-sporting events”, for example our General Election activity last year – 15 votes 
  • “…annual festivals, e.g. Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night”, for example our Sherlock Holmes competition last Autumn, episodes of which related to these festivals – 11 votes 

We’ll keep this stuff coming as far as time and tide allow.  For example, to mark the passing of the 500 day milestone and the availability of tickets for sale, we’ll shortly be publishing an Olympics poster.

There was also enthusiasm for the sample pages from our published resources, with 12 votes.  Again, we’ll keep these coming.  The least votes went to our video resources and news updates on AQA specifications and policy.

We asked you to tell us what other kinds of resources you would like to see.  Your answers centred around three types: (i) more exam questions/papers/feedback, (ii) more puzzles, (iii) interactives. 

We hear you.  We’ll do our best.

Q. What are your other sources of topical resources for use in school? (Tick all that apply)

Space doesn’t allow for all the questions, and we promised to keep all individual responses confidential.  But we do want to say a  big  T H A N K   Y O U  to everyone who took part.  Some of your additional feedback was very encouraging: you made especially kind comments about our Middle sets Student Book, about our Sherlock Holmes competition, and about our other free resources.  

Finally, some of you expressed concern that we might start charging for the content on the blog (we asked a few hypothetical question around this).  Don’t be, because we won’t.

With best wishes,

The Maths Team at Longman

How did you find our practice papers?

Back in October we posted a free AQA GCSE Unit 1 Practice paper plus answers.  Last month we posted a Unit 2 paper.  They were written specially to support the new specification.

How did you find these papers?  How have your students been finding the exams, and how have they coped with the new AO3 problem-solving questions?

By the way…

Our Assessment Pack (RRP £149.99) contains two complete sets of Linear and Modular practice papers, as well as a bank of exam-style questions organised by topic.  We’re running a 30% discount for our subscribers for online purchases before 30th April.  If you’re interested, “Leave a comment” on this post and we’ll send you a voucher.

The best things in life are… THREE! 30% discount on all our new AQA GCSE Maths resources for blog subscribers only

February 28, 2011 3 comments

3 Book model.

AO3, AO2, AO1 fully covered.


Subscribers: Hurry to claim your 30% discount on all Longman’s AQA GCSE Maths 2010 resources (incl. Student Books, Practice Books, ActiveTeach) by going to our website before 30th April, 2011.  You’ll need a discount code, when checking out. We sent this to you on 28th Feb:  if you mislaid it, just “Leave a comment” against this post, and we’ll email it out to you.

New visitors: If you’re a UK Secondary Maths teacher, you’re very welcome to subscribe to this blog, and we’ll send you a discount code too.  Just enter your school email address in the box top right of this screen.


AQA GCSE Maths new Unit 1 Exam – a big deal?

November 12, 2010 1 comment

Well, we gather that lots of schools entered candidates for Unit 1 this week. You’re probably tired already of people saying ‘How did it go?’, as though you might have been surprised by the different types of question – the new AO2 and AO3s – and how many  there were of them.  

However well-prepared your students were this week, now is a great time to look at investing in more support – from Longman AQA GCSE Mathematics resources. With a distinct ‘Middle Sets’ strand, all these print and digital materials really do help students focus on the grades that they are capable of achieving:

  • Higher sets D to A*
  • Middle sets E to B
  • Foundation sets G to C

Even better, there’s a special offer from Longman until the end of November:


Free class set* of ace textbooks!!


 *Terms and conditions apply – see your Longman Sales consultant for full details.

Contact your local Longman Sales Consultant now for this great offer! Call 0800 023 2923, quoting S09MATLAU, to make an appointment!


November AQA GCSE Maths Unit Exams Approaching – Download a Free Practice Paper!

October 21, 2010 9 comments

Very soon after half-term, AQA GCSE Mathematics Unit 1 and 2 exams will be underway for the AQA new specification. 50% of the marks in the exams will come from AO2 and AO3 questions.

Watch a new 3-minute video about this ‘big change’ from Series Editor Glyn Payne:

3 minute video - Glyn Payne explains the problem-solving needed in the new AQA GCSE Maths spec. Click to play.

Longman AQA GCSE Mathematics provides plenty of practice for AO2 and AO3, as well as helping students secure the basic maths of AO1.

In particular, there are Practice Papers (for both modular and linear) in the  Practice Books that cover the full ability range: Foundation Sets, Middle Sets, Higher Sets plus the special ‘A to A*’  Book. In addition, the Assessment Pack includes even more Practice Papers.

Download a free Higher Unit 1 Practice PaperEnjoy even more now with the correct Mark Scheme!

Coming soon to this blog… Sherlock Holmes’ toughest case yet!

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

A new School Year, a new GCSE Maths specification, a new set of students to motivate…

So we scratched our heads and thought: how to get students doing the new problem-solving and functional maths without even realising they’re doing it? 

The result: we’ve created a Sherlock Holmes mystery based around a series of mathematical clues – all of them flagged AO2 or AO3, and graded.  There are six fortnightly epsiodes: you and your class have to solve the mathematical challenge at the end of each episode to work out what location Holmes and Watson must go to next.

So here’s the really good bit: it’s a competition, with a prize on offer at the end of each episode.   Prizes will include free Sherlock Holmes DVDs, free school resources, and nice things to eat.

And here’s the really important bit: this competition will be fun, but it will also fit the new specification.  That’s so it can fit in with your teaching.  Remember: the questions will be flagged AO2, AO3, and graded.  To help with planning, these are the dates we’ll publish each episode:

  • 22nd September
  • 6th October
  • 20th October
  • 3rd November
  • 17th November
  • 1st December