OCR MathsConf18

Written by Steven Walker Monday, 04 March 2019

Edited and compiled by Robert J Smith @RJS2212

The OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) are exhibiting @OCR_Maths at #MathsConf18 on Saturday 9th March 2019, tickets still available.


The recent qualification reforms have brought with them an increased emphasis on problem solving. In this blog we take a look at incorporating puzzles into revision programmes to help build students’ problem solving skills.

What is Problem Solving?

In GCSE and A Level, problem solving questions will often require students to interpret given information and decide on the techniques needed to obtain an answer.

For example, at first glance this circle puzzle might appear to be beyond GCSE (as equations of circles are limited to circles centred around the origin in GCSE), but could be solved by bringing together coordinates, constructions and Pythagoras’ Theorem.

How to use Problem Solving questions

Problem solving needs to be incorporated throughout the academic year, but in the run up to the exam season puzzles can make good revision tasks. These help students make links across the curriculum, help identify technique weaknesses and prompt discussions.

At first, many will see this additional grid as having 3 unknowns, but on closer investigation a pair of equations can be seen with only 2 unknowns, which can then be solved before going on to complete the puzzle.

Creating discussion

Maths is often perceived as a quiet subject. Puzzles encourage discussion and the process of sharing ideas can help consolidate knowledge.

OCR Support

Each of our Check In tests (GCSE (9-1), FSMQ, GCE Maths, GCE Further Maths) include an extension problem and our practice exam papers can be found on Interchange.

If you have questions then submit your comments below. You can also sign up to subject updates to receive up-to-date email information about resources and support and follow us on Twitter @OCR_Maths


You can see OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) in the networking / Exhibitor slots during #MathsConf18 at the City Academy Bristol on Saturday March 9th 2019.

Don't forget in March we also have our 'FREE' Maths Teacher Network events in association with Oxford University Press and AQA.

We look forward to seeing you at our next La Salle Education Event if you don't already, follow us on Twitter @LaSalleEd

About the Author

Steven Walker

Steven Walker, OCR Maths Subject Advisor
Steven joined OCR during the recent qualification reform period, working on the redevelopment of Entry level, GCSE (9-1), FSMQ and the suite of A Level Mathematics qualifications. He now focuses mainly on supporting the level 3 qualifications. Steven has taught secondary mathematics in UK and overseas.

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