Should we mark “mathematical style” at A-Level? 

Something that I have been meaning to write about for ages and seemed pertinent to today’s #mathscpdchat hosted by Rob Beckett (@RBeckett_Yd) is the idea of mathematical style. 

I’m often saying to my A-Level students that mathematics isn’t just about succeeding at getting an answer. The steps to the answer are the most important along with being able to structure a mathematical argument that is stylish. 

Style and mathematical elegance is of course subjective, but I am beginning to think style should be assessed in A-Level examinations. The proposed problem solving questions with multiple possible approaches would be ideal for this. I believe a comparative judgment on “the most mathematically elegant” approach would be a robust way of assessing this. 

As an example, to me, for the below question the first approach is significantly more elegant than differentiating! 


What do you think? 

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