Disclaimer: This article is just an introduction to the subject, and should not be considered a complete view of the further math syllabus or difficulty level. If you are considering taking further maths, please consult a teacher in the mathematics department.
After a hiatus of 9 years, Further Mathematics is back.
In view of this resurrection, we pored over the syllabus document, and spoke to Mr Ho Wei Kang, the main teacher with experience in Further Math, to find out what it is all about.
Who is it for?
Students who are mathematically-inclined and who intend to specialise in mathematics, engineering, or just disciplines with higher demand on mathematical skills. TL; DR, if you want to be an engineer, physicist, or an astronaut.
Which is harder: H3 or Further Math?
Mr Ho: “H3 Math is definitely harder. Most of the questions in the paper are new to students when they walk into exam halls, and it is tough to spot questions. The questions are not easily solvable and require students to think on the spot. In contrast, the types of questions for Further Math can be practised ahead of the paper.”
Further Math is still, of course, rather tough. Topics are more abstract than H2 Math and go more in-depth into concepts and real-life scenarios. Imagine primary school problem sums, with long, wordy introductions and explanations, except much, much harder.
What will be taught?
The aim of Further Math is to go into real-world mathematical application. Thus, only 1/4 of the paper will be on statistics compared to 1/3 in H2 Math. Below are some examples of the topics covered and the real-world applications students could be tested on.
What is the format of the examinations?
Two 3-hour papers, each marked out of 100; and at least 48 out of the 200 marks will be based “on application of Mathematics in real-world contexts, including those from sciences and engineering.” Note the words “at least”.
Are other schools offering it?
Finding enough Further Maths students to form a class can be difficult, as taking two maths subjects closes out other important options for science students, the main one being Chemistry. Students, looking to keep their options open will often choose chemistry over further maths, even if they are good at the subject. As a result, while further maths is offered at many JCs, some schools are unsure if they can form classes, leading to the subject’s discontinuation. For example, this year Dunman High was looking at having two classes of further maths students, but there are only 10 interested, out its cohort of 400, so the fate of further maths is uncertain there. Similarly, VJ may not even have a further maths class if not enough people sign up. Mr Ho remains hopeful, however, that enough people are interested in a career in engineering or physics to offer the subject.
Is the subject be internationally recognised?
Much of the syllabus is based on the Further Math syllabus in the British A Levels and in the IB, and it is a more commonly taken subject in Britain. As such, it will be recognised by any universities that carry out admissions through A Level results.