The concept of maths goes as far back as written records exist, with Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Pythagoras and Archimedes being some of the most famous mathematicians throughout history.
Nowadays, along with science and English, maths is one of the core three subjects on the national curriculum in the UK, meaning all students aged 14 to 16 must sit maths exams as part of their secondary school education.
Some of the topics which are covered when studying maths include arithmetic, algebra, geometry and calculus.
Mathematics plays an essential role in many different fields, such as engineering, natural sciences, medicine, finance, social sciences and computer science. This means that anyone wishing to pursue a career in any of these areas will need an excellent understanding of how to solve mathematical problems.
Should I boost my maths knowledge with a maths summer school?
Whether you consider yourself to be the next Einstein or maths is your weakest subject, there are many reasons why you might be thinking of attending a maths summer school.
It could be that you want to enhance your already strong mathematical skills to enable you to secure a place at a top university like Oxford or Cambridge. Or you might want to brush up on your maths knowledge so you can take a higher-level course in a different subject altogether. It could even be because your employer requires you to have a qualification in maths in order for you to progress to the next stage of your career. Some students may just want to attend a maths summer school in person so they can decide whether university study is right for them.
Whatever your motivation, in this article we’ll explain more about what you can expect from studying maths during the summer holidays.
What will I learn at maths summer school?
Studying maths at summer school will give you the opportunity to address any gaps you have in your knowledge so far. You’ll gain confidence and understanding in a range of areas, with daily activities that are designed to improve your problem solving and numeracy skills and give you the ability to apply maths to real-life scenarios. You’ll usually be taught exam paper techniques, and some courses will even award you with a qualification.
Exactly what you’ll be learning depends on the level you’re at with your studies. To give you an indication, though, here are some examples of what you might be taught, according to your situation:
Students taking GCSE mathematics after the summer
Students who want additional support during their current GCSE studies have the option of taking a course to improve their grades.
On the other hand, a course in advanced or further maths is a good option for year 10 and 11 students who are doing well in the subject but want to build on their existing skills and broaden their knowledge by learning about A-level maths and A-level further maths topics – which most secondary school students wouldn’t usually study.
Some of the areas covered by one of these courses could include:
- Graphs, transformations and loci
- Quadratic simultaneous equations
- Circle geometry
- Computer science
- Game theory
Students taking first year A-level mathematics after the summer
An introductory course is ideal for making the transition from GCSE to A-level more comfortable.
It could also be good for those who are competent in maths but need more confidence in selecting the subject as one of their A-level choices.
Some of the topics that could be covered in one of these courses are:
- Quadratics, discriminants and exam applications
- Surds, indices and inequalities
- Sketching curves and coordinate geometry
Students taking final year A-level mathematics after the summer
Those wishing to really hone their A-level maths skills may choose to take a summer maths course so they can gain a deeper understanding of topics like:
- Functions, modulus functions and transformation of functions
- Advanced trigonometry, identities and exam applications
- Exponentials and logarithms
Students wishing to take mathematics at university
Year 12 and 13 students who are applying to study maths at university might want to take an additional course in the subject to give them the edge over other candidates.
There are also preparation courses on offer for students whose anticipated offers require STEP, the TMUA or the Oxford MAT. This type of course gives sixth form students the chance to work on typical examples from each of these admissions tests.
How will I be taught at a maths summer school?
While the main reason for attending a maths summer school is to boost your knowledge of the subject, it’s important to have fun while you’re learning too. Especially since you’ll be studying during the summer holidays.
That’s why many courses are designed to be enjoyable as well as informative, via a range of interactive teaching methods, including riddle-solving, critical thinking puzzles, playing strategic mathematical games, drawing tessellations and fractals and even building a primitive computer.
Students are taught how to apply maths to everyday life, in areas such as art, music, nature, sport, space exploration and codebreaking, and as the course goes on, they will likely start to improve their curiosity, visual thinking and confidence in the subject.
Which maths summer school is the best?
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there are now many maths courses available to take online. However, with restrictions gradually lifting, you might be considering attending summer school in person.
There’s no better way to learn than by immersing yourself in school life. As well as preparing you for your academic future, studying away from home teaches you life skills. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the culture of another city – or country, if you’re an overseas student.
Attending a summer school like Oxford Royale Academy is the best way to do this. Not only will you have the honour of studying at the prestigious Oxford University – the oldest university in the English-speaking world – but you’ll experience authentic undergraduate life too.
You’ll sleep in student bedrooms, socialise in the campus common rooms and be taught by world-class tutors in laboratories and lecture theatres where groundbreaking discoveries have been made. There’s no better place to learn, especially considering it’s here that 55 Nobel Prize winners developed the academic and life skills that led to their success.
Alongside your studies, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a range of extra-curricular activities, including excursions to London, Windsor Castle and Blenheim Palace, graduation balls and days out soaking up the local culture.
Once you’ve completed your two-week mathematics course, you’ll receive a detailed report card, highlighting your achievements, as well as a graduation certificate which will be awarded at a ceremony hosted for you and your parents on the last Friday of your summer school.
If, however, you would prefer to study online, there are plenty of maths courses out there, which accommodate all levels and requirements.
In order to attend a maths summer school online, you’ll usually need a computer or tablet from which you can attend online meetings, time to complete work set outside lessons and a quiet place where you can work.
What are the benefits of a maths summer school?
As well as providing you with the means to boost your maths knowledge, summer schools have a number of other benefits too, including:
- One-to-one tutoring (either in person or online), so you can focus on the specific areas you need to
- Enhanced study skills, so you can learn more effectively
- Less time spent on maths homework in the future
- Your maths knowledge staying at the forefront of your mind, instead of being forgotten over the summer holidays
- Having more time to focus on and improve your other school subjects
- Having the edge over other candidates when it comes to applying to competitive courses at universities like Cambridge and Oxford
What else can I expect from attending maths summer school?
If you attend a maths summer school in person, you can usually expect your accommodation, meals, tuition and cultural programmes to be included in the price.
Classes are generally small, however it’s likely you’ll be taught in a multicultural environment, with international students learning alongside each other.
As most courses are taught in English, overseas students will also be able to develop their English language skills.
You may even be lucky enough to hear inspiring talks from world-famous industry guest speakers.
Many maths students choose to continue with their studies over the summer holidays. There’s a number of reasons why they might decide to do this, from wanting to improve their grades to getting a head start in the next stage of their academic journey.
As well as learning more about maths, if you attend a summer school in person, you’ll also have the opportunity to live life like a typical student and discover new cities and cultures.
Whether you want to study in person or online, it’s likely there will be something out there to suit your particular requirements.