GCSE Maths Paper 2 2024: Topic Analysis & Recommended Revision List For Paper 3

Our resident secondary maths expert, Christine Norledge, returns with an in-depth analysis of the GCSE Maths Paper 2. By examining the questions and topics from both Papers 1 and 2, Christine predicts which topics are likely to feature in the final 2024 paper. Stay with us to discover the key topics she recommends focusing on in your final revision push!

We’re now two-thirds of the way through this year’s GCSE maths series, with Paper 3 just around the corner on Monday 10th June. The finish line is finally in sight!

Get ready with our analysis of Paper 2 and an updated topic hit list to support your Paper 3 revision. With two exams ticked off, we can start to identify which topics are more or less likely to appear on the final paper.

Remember, any topic can still show up on any paper. Just because it’s been covered before doesn’t mean it won’t be examined again. These insights are meant to help you focus and optimise your revision efforts when time is limited.

Be aware, this blog focuses on Edexcel, rather than AQA, OCR or IGCSE. It’s also specifically about GCSE mathematics, rather than any A-Level exams.

TOP TIP

The following recommendations and analysis are my own interpretation of GCSE Maths Paper 2, and are not endorsed in any way by Edexcel. The question papers and mark schemes are yet to be formally released.

GCSE Maths 2024: Stay up to date

Join our email list to stay up to date with the latest news, revision lists and resources for GCSE maths 2024. We’re analysing each paper during the course of the 2024 GCSEs in order to identify the key topic areas to focus on for your revision.

Thursday 16th May 2024: GCSE Maths Paper 1 2024 Analysis & Revision Topic List
Monday 3rd June 2024: GCSE Maths Paper 2 2024 Analysis & Revision Topic List
Monday 10th June 2024: GCSE Maths Paper 3 2024 Analysis

GCSE 2024 dates
GCSE 2024 results (when published)
GCSE results 2023

Your Edexcel Paper 3 revision hit list

Let’s start with what you came here for; an updated essential hit list of revision recommendations for Edexcel Paper 3. And then we’ll get back to analysing Paper 2!

Below are the Foundation and Higher topics that we recommend students focus on first. This should be seen as a suggested and incomplete list, not a definitive prediction of the final paper. Keep in mind that any topics could appear on any paper, including those already covered in the first two exams.

These lists are revised versions from our previous GCSE Maths 2024 Paper 1 blog, with a few additions and modifications based on the content seen so far.

Foundation revision focus list

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - table of the Foundation revision focus list

Higher revision focus list

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - table of the Higher revision focus list

For further information and other suggested topics, please see the more detailed tables and analysis that follow.

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Maths Paper 3 Revision: GCSE Exam Questions & Worksheets

GCSE Maths Paper 3 2024 Revision: Interactive topic lists, exam questions and worksheets.

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How to share these revision recommendations

If you are worried that students might over-interpret revision focus lists, why not share these topics in a different format? You could use the Third Space Learning secondary maths resources to create a collection of practice exam questions targeting these top topics. 

Free GCSE Maths Paper 3 revision bundle

To make it easier, we’ve already created a free Paper 3 revision bundle that includes worksheets on the hit list topics. Each worksheet includes functional and applied reasoning questions, practice questions and exam-style questions 

You’ll find links to specific GCSE maths revision resources for everything you need for each of the hit list revision topics, including:

Student reactions to Maths Paper 2

Students don’t seem to have been as vocal about Paper 2 on social media.

Perhaps this is an early indication that they found it slightly better than Paper 1? However, there were still a few stand-out questions.

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - humorous student reaction on X (formerly Twitter)
GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - humorous student reaction on X (formerly Twitter)
GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - humorous student reaction on X (formerly Twitter)
GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - humorous student reaction on X (formerly Twitter)

Analysis process for Maths Paper 2

In this blog, I’ve applied the same processes and classifications as in my previous exam analysis blog posts:

For more on the processes used, check out my previous GCSE Maths Paper 1 2024 blog.

The following suggestions are based on data analysis from all previous series, including June and November papers. While we now have a substantial data set, these are still only informed recommendations. Professional judgement should guide how to use this information.

Detailed analysis of Maths Paper 2 Foundation 2024

Foundation Paper 2 felt much more accessible than Paper 1.

The paper ramped slowly at the start; students were not asked to tackle anything beyond procedural work until around Q9. The first few questions included straightforward topics such as ordering integers, plotting coordinates and measuring lines and angles.

Further into the paper, even problem-solving questions such as Q11 and Q18 felt fairly uncomplicated; students who have completed plenty of past paper practice will have encountered questions like these before.

Crossover content included procedural work on Pythagoras’ theorem, product of primes and quadratic graphs, but was generally more demanding. Foundation students predictably struggled with the three-part ratio in Q25 and forming equations to solve in Q26.

Topic allocation in Maths Paper 2 Foundation 2024

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation strand distribution pie chart

Complexity of questions in Maths Paper 2 Foundation 2024 compared to previous years

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation complexity pie charts

There were slightly more C1 marks on Paper 2 than Paper 1 (approx 56% vs 50%). 

However, quite a lot of these C1 marks were in pre-crossover content, so we can expect that many Foundation students struggled more with the cognitive demand of some of the crossover content.

C2 content is around average; students were asked to read and synthesise information from graphs and comment on a problem involving a spinner with unequal slices. There were also a couple of “show that” questions.

Mark allocation for topics in Maths Paper 2 Foundation 2024 with comparison to previous years

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation strand and sub-strand distribution bar chart

In comparison with previous series, we’ve got slightly more Number work than average. This was also true of Paper 1, so while these differences aren’t hugely significant, we might see less Number work on Paper 3.  

This series already has the second-highest number of marks for graphs of all Foundation papers since 2017 – with one paper to go! So it would be surprising to see a significant amount more graph work on Paper 3. We’ll probably see more work on other Algebra skills, possibly sequences or algebraic manipulation.

There is slightly less Geometry than usual on Paper 2, so we may see this balance out on Paper 3. Several previous series have included more work on perimeter, area and volume than this one so far. We’ve also had nothing on vectors, although this is not assessed at Foundation level every series.

There is a slight skew in favour of Statistics on Paper 2 and overall on the series so far – this may mean that we see more Probability content on Paper 3.

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation June series comparison bar chart

Detailed analysis of Maths Paper 2 Higher 2024

Topic allocation in Maths Paper 2 Higher 2024

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation June series comparison bar chart

This year’s Higher Paper 2 felt slightly easier in comparison with Paper 1.

Similarly to Paper 1, there was some generous procedural content in the crossover section of the paper, including a simple problem using Pythagoras’ theorem, product of primes and a quadratic graph presented in a step-by-step manner.

There were additional straightforward marks available later on in the paper as well, for topics such as cumulative frequency, scale drawing and proportion equations. There was procedural work on typically “higher end” topics such as gradient and area of travel graphs, and completing the square to find the turning point.

There were a couple of more unusual questions that students may have stumbled on – particularly Q10 requiring the use of trig ratios to form and solve equations and Q15 which involved rationalising the denominator of a surd expression containing algebra. 

However, as on Paper 1, there weren’t many unfamiliar topic combinations – questions generally stayed within a single content domain, or were predictable based on past paper questions.

Complexity of questions in Maths Paper 2 Higher 2024 compared to previous years

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Higher complexity pie charts

In comparison to last year’s papers, we again have a slight increase in marks available for multi-step problem-solving (C3) questions compared to June 2023. This hasn’t quite returned to the pre-Covid patterns of around 45% per paper, but is getting closer.

C2 content is slightly up on this year’s Higher Paper 2, with around 25% of the marks available for questions involving reasoning, interpreting charts or tables, and reading and synthesising information. While this isn’t a significant variation, it may mean that we see slightly less of this type of problem on Paper 3.

Mark allocation for topics in Maths Paper 2 Higher 2024 with comparison to previous years

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Higher strand and sub-strand distribution bar chart

Higher Paper 2 2024 was slightly heavier on Number topics than some previous Paper 2s. This included quite a bit of work in the crossover content on product of primes, LCM and FDP problem solving.

Ratio and Proportion was around average. There are a couple of big gaps remaining here with compound change, which appears most series, and compound measures, which frequently appears multiple times per series.

As predicted in our Paper 1 2024 blog, we saw some context-based equations work on this paper. However, this has all been linear so far – there is potential for a quadratic on Paper 3. As with Foundation, we’ve had a lot of graph work, with this series among the highest number of marks available in this strand and one paper still to go.

In Geometry we’ve still got some hefty gaps. The trigonometry content on this series remains light, with the only question so far using trig ratios to form equations in Q10 on Paper 2. Further trigonometry, such as sine/cosine rule, area of a triangle and 3D Pythagoras and trigonometry has not come up yet.

Overall we’re slightly low on Mensuration and Calculation, so we may see more area and volume work on Paper 3.

There was slightly more Probability work on Paper 2, including a couple of context-based problems. We have, however, had nothing yet on tree diagrams or use of the conditional probability law.

The only Statistics question was about cumulative frequency graphs. While this was worth 7 marks, Statistics content coverage generally has been down over the first two papers, so we can expect a bit more on Paper 3. 

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Higher June series comparison bar chart

What next? Preparing for Paper 3

Edexcel’s Paper 2 and Paper 3 are both calculator papers, and the topics covered can appear on either. With one calculator paper already completed, we can analyse the data to identify additional topics that might appear.

The remainder of this blog examines data from the past 7 years for both Foundation and Higher papers. This analysis details how topics and questions have been distributed across Papers 1, 2, and 3, and importantly, what you might expect on the final paper in 2024.

Each section and chart aims to answer key questions that will guide the next (and final) stage of your GCSE revision.

Practical revision and exam tips 

If, after the first two exams you think your students are still struggling with mapping out their revision effectively, then it’s also worth reviewing the guidance and resources available for them here:

Calculator paper hit list predictions for Paper 3

For Paper 3 preparation, we’ve reviewed the calculator paper topic hit list from our GCSE Maths Paper 1 blog. We’ve categorised these topics into those that appeared on Paper 2 and those that have not yet been covered.

Since these lists are now quite specific, we don’t recommend sharing them with students as they are. It’s likely that other topics will also be reassessed along with these.

The other thing to note is that some topics are now less likely to come up as other related topics have been assessed in depth. For example, we’ve seen a higher-than-usual proportion of graph work so far on Papers 1 and 2 at Foundation and Higher, so we may not see any more work on non-linear graphs this year.

Updates to Foundation Calculator paper 2024 hit list

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation revision focus list

Updates to Higher Calculator paper 2024 hit list

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Higher revision focus list

Most frequent Foundation and Higher Paper 2 and 3 topics 2017-2024

Any topic can theoretically appear on any paper in the series. However, certain topics have historically featured on multiple papers. Many of these are fundamental concepts or processes, so they shouldn’t come as a surprise. Keep this in mind when directing students’ revision.

These lists contain topics that have appeared on both Calculator papers in at least half of all series – in other words, these are popular Calculator paper topics!

18 common Foundation Calculator paper topics

Because of the narrower content coverage, topics are more likely to be reassessed on Foundation papers than on Higher papers. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - frequently occurring Foundation Calculator topics

7 common Higher Calculator paper topics

Because of the broader range and depth of topics on the Higher GCSE, topics are less likely to be repeated at the Higher tier. This is supported by an analysis of topic frequencies across multiple papers.

The table below highlights a few exceptions, with notes on their relevance to the 2024 series so far. While many of these repeat topics have already appeared more than once, there are still a few to keep an eye on.

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - frequently occurring Higher Calculator topics

Which Calculator topics haven’t been seen for a while?

This selection highlights topics that have not prominently featured as main topics in recent series (though some may have been embedded). These topics are worth keeping an eye on, as they are assessed less frequently but might be included this year.

Some of these topics are very rarely assessed (e.g. reciprocal graphs) or are especially challenging for their tier (e.g. quadratic equations on Foundation). These topics should be prioritised once students are confident and proficient with the core material for each paper, but they should not be the primary focus of their revision.

8 topics missing from recent Foundation Papers 2 and 3

One topic originally on this list (loci) came up on Foundation Paper 2 – the remaining topics are yet to appear in 2024.

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation not seen topics

11 topics missing from recent Higher Papers 2 and 3

Shading regions for linear inequalities has been removed from this list as it came up on Paper 2. The remaining topics are yet to appear in 2024.

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Higher not seen topics

Strand distribution to identify ‘bigger picture’ gaps

This final section provides a comparison of the strand distributions for Papers 1 and 2 in 2024 with five previous complete summer series. Notably, some strands in 2024 are significantly lower than the average, indicating that these topics might be more heavily covered in Paper 3.

At Foundation, the biggest gaps are in Ratio & Proportion, Geometry and Probability

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Foundation bigger picture gaps graph

At Foundation level, the biggest gaps appear in Ratio and Proportion, Geometry and Probability, so we can probably expect proportionally more of these strands on Paper 3. Probability content is also still a little light.

Drilling down into the detail, we have significant gaps in:

  • Place value and standard form calculations
  • Fraction representations
  • Simplifying expressions, using correct algebraic notation
  • Laws of indices, expanding brackets, factorising (all types)
  • Proportional reasoning problems
  • Trigonometry in right angled triangles
  • Volume and surface area
  • 3D shape representation (this doesn’t appear very frequently)
  • Probability experiments
  • Simple averages and range from a list of numbers

At Higher, the biggest gaps are Algebra and Geometry

GCSE 2024 Paper 2 Analysis - Higher bigger picture gaps graph

Proportionally we’re down on Algebra and Geometry so we’re likely to see more of that content on Paper 3. 

Drilling down into the detail, we have significant gaps in:

  • Standard form calculations
  • Proportion calculations
  • Algebraic notation and manipulation, vocabulary and proof
  • Functions
  • Non-linear sequences
  • Rates of change (such as repeated percentage change)
  • Trigonometry, particularly Higher content (sine/cosine rule, area of triangle, 3D work)
  • Volume and surface area
  • Constructions, loci and 3D shape representation (these don’t appear very frequently)
  • Data collection and sampling

What’s next for GCSE Maths 2024?

This wraps up our analysis of the first two maths papers. The final GCSE maths paper is on Monday 10th June, and we will provide a quick review of Paper 3 afterwards.

Later in June, we’ll be back on your screens with a detailed analysis of the entire 2024 series. This will include insights on how to use this year’s exam questions with next year’s students and a data-driven examination of how the 2024 papers fit within the broader history of Edexcel exam papers.

See you then!

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