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Bulletin 1: An update on Queensland’s new Senior Mathematics courses

This is the first of a small number of bulletins we are designing to specifically address items we feel are of interest to senior mathematics teachers in relation to information and preparation for the upcoming new senior mathematics courses.

Final syllabus documents now available

All three final syllabus documents are now available (July 2017) and can be downloaded directly from the Queensland School portal.

Note both General Mathematics and Mathematical Methods are now up to version v1.1, Specialist Mathematics has its first final syllabus release, v1.0.

The QCAA has indicated that teachers are encouraged to, make use of FAQs on the QCAA website, and advise all senior teachers to register for the QCAA schools’ newsletter, which you can do here.

If you have any queries in relation to the new senior mathematics syllabuses, please use this newly created QCAA email address: seniormathematics@qcaa.qld.edu.au

Some QAMT takeaways

Our Queensland authors attended the QAMT annual conference, QAMTAC 17, held at Toowoomba Grammar School on 24-25 June 2017. Below are some of the key takeaways.

Presentations by QCAA Officers

Internal and external exams - Luan Phan and Peter Mondolo (QCAA)

This session practised changing a simple question into a complex one. For example, when solving an equation, a “Simple familiar” question could involve solving a given equation, while a “Complex familiar” might involve adding a worded context.

Change this question from simple to complex (General Maths):

Solve the following simultaneous equations:
y = 7x + 8 and y = 12x - 2

Suggestion: give a worded scenario so students need to form the equations first.

Change this question from complex to simple (Mathematical Methods)

The spread of a flu in a certain childcare facility is modelled by the equation, where N is the total number of toddlers infected after t days. 

equation n

The flu is spreading at a rate of 20 toddlers/day after day 3. Determine the value of k.

Suggestion: Change the denominator toequation e just so the differentiation is straightforward.  

Note that a complex question in technology free may become a simple question when technology active.

It is also worth knowing that if a textbook gives an unfamiliar question type then an internal school assessment task shouldn’t use that same question style/context as an unfamiliar question as students have seen it before. This also applies equally to any question style/context explicitly taught within the mathematics classroom, regardless of whether it came from a textbook or not.

Please note, the QCAA specifies technology for external exam only. However, given that it is essential for students to be very familiar with the technology they will be using in the external exam, many participants were of the opinion that they would use the same format for internal school based exams. Students should also be encouraged to use their technology in a test or exam when allowed, as it can save them time, leaving more time to focus on other parts of the paper.

The internal assessment item itself will need to indicate the breakup of technology free and technology active questions. Popular opinion was that Year 11 internal assessment would mimic Year 12 internal and external assessment, that being 1 x Problem Solving & Modelling task, 1 x Unit 1 Exam, 1 x Unit 2 Exam and 1 x Combined Unit 1+2 Exam.

Problem solving and modelling task [PSMT] – what’s the same and what’s different

Warren Richards, Suzanne Garvey, Chipo Gweshe (QCAA)

One of the key messages from this session was that by the time the cohort gets to Year 12 they need to be up to the ‘Independent’ stage of the process. The task should be open-ended with obvious connections to the Maths being studied in the topics for that Unit.

Common to all three syllabuses:

The following describes three different approaches to teaching problem-solving and mathematical modelling along the continua between teaching for and learning through:



Teaching for or learning through


The teacher explicitly demonstrates and teaches the concepts and techniques required to solve the problem, and/or develop a mathematical model. This usually involves students solving (stage 2), and evaluating and verifying (stage 3).

Teaching for


The teacher influences the choice of concepts and techniques, and/or model that students use to solve the problem. Guidance is provided and all stages of the approach are used.

Moving towards learning through


The teacher cedes control and students work independently, choosing their own solution and/or model, and working at their own level of mathematics. The independent approach is the most challenging.

Learning through

Schools who have begun trialing this have reported that the marking for the new system using the instrument-specific marking guide [ISMG] has been made substantially easier than in the past.

Some have suggested taking a ‘Top down’ approach. First ask yourself – Is this worth the highest score (so an A, a score of 14-15, without expecting absolute perfection, and without checking every calculation), if not, go to the next level of descriptors for the objectives, if this isn’t a perfect fit, consider going for the whole number ‘best fit’ in between, or lower again if required.

Sample assessments and responses are available through the School portal.

Formula sheets: Suzanne Garvey, Chipo Gweshe, Warren Richards

The QCAA has shared draft copies of the Formula sheets with critical friends. It is anticipated that Formula sheets are likely to be similar to those in southern states, below are some direct links to formula sheets from SA, VIC and WA we compiled for you.


  • General Mathematics doesn’t require a formula sheet.
  • Mathematical Methods formula sheet, available here
  • Specialist Mathematics formula sheet, available here



Our next Bulletin will include a mapping of high level content changes from current senior mathematics curricula to incoming ones.

The Bulletin thereafter will share some useful places to find support material for the new incoming content.

Want to be kept in the loop with the Queensland Senior Mathematics updates?

If you would like to receive future Bulletins about these changes, please subscribe to our dedicated Queensland Senior Mathematics updates here:







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