A new approach to assess students understanding of mathematical concepts has been developed as part of research by Loughborough University.
The Worshipful Company of Actuaries (WCA), which funded the research, said the method focused on students' reasoning and understanding of the subject rather than just exam results.
The WCA said given actuaries were known for "having a quiet passion for mathematics" and for "rigorous, analytical thinking" it believed the research could have "significant benefits" for mathematical education in the UK.
The new method, known as comparative judgement, could "significantly reduce" the amount of time teachers spend marking and preparing lessons, while also "enriching the learning experience of students".
The livery company argued students who achieved good marks in exams could struggle to explain their reasoning or apply their knowledge in new situations. It added exam questions could be improved by asking candidates to apply their calculation techniques in new situations and to comment on the results.
The research, which aims to improve the questions used to assess students from GCSE upwards, involves "no marking or mark schemes". Instead, an examiner is presented with two pieces of students' work and asked to comment which is "better", based on a given criterion such as "mathematical ability".
Several pairings are presented to examiners to produce a scaled rank order of students' work from "worst" to "best". This is then used for usual assessment procedures such as grading.
Dr Matthew Inglis, a researcher involved in the project and Royal Society WCA research fellow at Loughborough University, said: "One of the most important goals of learning mathematics is to develop students' problem solving and thinking skills.
"But problem solving and mathematical thinking are not only difficult skills for students to learn but also particularly difficult topics for teachers to assess."
The WCA is holding a workshop for mathematics teachers at the Royal Institution in London tonight at 5:30pm.