VCE Maths Subjects - what's the difference between Methods, Specialist, Further, Foundation and General?

Maths is one of the most common subjects that is completed at a Unit 3/4 level for VCE. Learn difference between Methods, Specialist, Further, Foundation and General maths?

2 years ago   •   3 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Jeswin Thomas / Unsplash

The VCE is pretty complicated as it stands, and we've done our best to explain it in prior blog posts.

If you've read our "How the VCE works: Understanding Victoria's Year 12 ATAR system" article, you might recall that there are quite a few options when it comes to Maths subjects.

There are 5 different maths subjects available at the VCE level. However, only 3 of these are offered in Year 12 (Units 3 and 4).

  • Foundation Mathematics (Units 1 and 2)
  • General Mathematics (Units 1 and 2)
  • Further Mathematics (Units 3 and 4)
  • Mathematical Methods (Units 1-4)
  • Specialist Mathematics (Units 1-4)

Let's try and understand the differences between each of these subjects. You should also conduct some research on the scaling of each subject, here is a quick breakdown for 2022 subject scaling.

Foundation Mathematics

This subject is designed for those students who do not wish to complete a maths subject at the Year 12 level. It provides basic maths skills and allows VCE students to develop these skills without completing final exams (ie. maths will not contribute to their ATAR). However should a Foundation Mathematics student decide to continue maths studies in their Year 12, they will have the possibility to move into Further Mathematics (with some supplementary study courses to bridge the gap).

General Mathematics

This subject provides a broad study of mathematics, encompassing many different non-calculus-based topics. It is catered to a wide range of students and is intended to provide the foundational knowledge for a variety of different types of maths.

Further Mathematics

This subject is intended to be widely accessible by many different types of mathematics students. All topics are non-calculus based and are designed to provide general preparation for employment or further mathematical study, particularly where data analysis, financial maths and number patterns are important. The assumed knowledge for this subject (Units 3 and 4) is covered in General Mathematics Units 1 and 2. Mathematical Methods students of Units 1 and 2 may transfer into Further Mathematics Units 3 and 4 with some supplementary studies (although Mathematical Methods is more advanced, the two subjects cover different topics).

Mathematical Methods

This subject focuses majorly on calculus (both differential and integral). Functions, algebra, probability and statistics comprise the rest of the curriculum. These topics are applied in a variety of practical and theoretical contexts. They also provide background for further study in science, humanities, economics and medicine, etc.

Methods are seen as more advanced than Further Mathematics and less advanced than Specialist Mathematics. However, it is generally accepted that the gap between Further and Methods is much larger than the gap between Methods and Spec. Here is the type of Maths methods exam questions you may encounter!

Specialist Mathematics

This subject is designed to be taken after the completion of Methods Units 3 and 4, or alongside them. This provides the groundwork for the Specialist Mathematics curriculum. The content is designed based on the assumption of a decent understanding of Mathematical Methods.

Specialist Maths studies many of the same topics as Methods, albeit to a higher level of complexity. These are also complemented by other more advanced mathematical topics such as complex numbers, vectors, differential equations, mechanics and statistical inference.

In Conclusion...

The VCE Mathematics program can be quite complex, and understanding what's going on can be very daunting for new students and parents. If you ever need some assistance with VCE Maths, KIS Academics tutors have a thorough knowledge of the subjects and can assist in understanding curriculum requirements. Our private tutors can provide materials and teach how to prepare for Maths assessments. Learn about our VCE tutoring and book a free study skills consultation with a KIS Academics tutor.

To learn more about Victoria's VCE system, you can read our "How the VCE works" article, and learn the differences between VCE English subjects here.

Written by KIS Academics Tutor and State Consultant for Victoria (VCE), Elena Cruz. You can view Elena's profile and request her as a tutor.

Disclaimer: KIS Academics is not affiliated with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). For a more detailed overview of the VCE, please refer to VCAA materials.

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