/ Why have low GCSE grades?

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lowersharpnose - on 18 Jun 2013
I was looking at the grade breakdown for GCSE exams in 2012 and wondered why there are so many grades.

Looking at biology, 93% get a C or above and 98% get a D or above. Below D, there are E, F, G & U to split up the remaining 2%. This seems a bit pointless to me.

Why bother?

With maths,
6% A*
15% A or above
30% B or above
58% C or above
77% D or above
87% E or above
94% F or above
98% G or above

So, the bottom grades are more finely tuned than the top grades.

Are these lower grade distinctions of any use?

Jimmy1976 - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose: with reference to science most students who take biology gcsec are of the higher ability as it is a separate science and to study you would also often take chemistry and physics. Many students only attain 2 science gcse's called Science and Additional science. It is within these gcse's that you will see a bigger spread over the lower grades.
Luke90 on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

Worth pointing out that Biology probably isn't very representative of the grade distribution as it's generally only taken by higher-achieving students.

In a lot of state schools (the vast majority, in my experience), the default option is for students to take "Double Science" at GCSE, which gives them two GCSEs in "Science" (generally termed Core Science and Additional Science).

In some schools, higher-ability students have the option of taking "Triple Science" which gives separate GCSEs in the three sciences.

If schools anticipate a student getting low grades in science, they would almost always be entered for "Double Science" or even "Single Science", therefore not appearing in your grade breakdown for Biology as a separate subject.
Luke90 on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Luke90:

Beaten to the punch, much more concisely!
cuppatea on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> .. wondered why there are so many grades.
> So, the bottom grades are more finely tuned than the top grades.
> Are these lower grade distinctions of any use?

My guess is that the exams used to be a lot harder (when I were a lad and all that) and at that time there was more of a spread of grades being attained.
James90 - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:

I was waiting for this cliche
Jon Stewart - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

> Are these lower grade distinctions of any use?

No. IME, employers for whom GCSEs are important look for 5 GCSEs A-C inc. maths and English. If you don't get that, re-take them until you do. And less than a C is best left off the CV IMO.
lowersharpnose - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Ta.
Jon Stewart - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Ta.

Err, as in "one should...". Hard to know how one has been interpreted on this internet thing.
lowersharpnose - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Your comment about employers is what I thought too, anything less than a C is considered a failure.
cuppatea on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to James90:

> (In reply to cuppatea)
>
> I was waiting for this cliche

I'm glad to help :D

Do you not think it's true?

The new marks are 1-8 rather than F-A, with the best mark being 8.

Admittedly I'm a bit cynical but the first thing that came to mind was that it was open ended at the top end, to allow for any future advances in teaching.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Your comment about employers is what I thought too, anything less than a C is considered a failure.

Absolutely. I used to work with employers taking on apprentices at age 16. Without wanting to go off on one, if there were more apprenticeship opportunities out there for school leavers, and everyone knew that you could only get on one if you achieved 5 GCSEs A-C including maths and English as a "post 16 pass", then I think there are a lot of kids who would try rather harder to get those grades. If the whole education system revolves around HE and those going on to A-levels, then anyone not on that path will become disillusioned - and who can blame them?

I guess also that GCSEs C+ is what schools are measured on? So basically everyone considers D and below a failure. There is absolutely no point in dividing up the different grades of failure except perhaps between "a poor performance (D)" and "this performance was so poor it has its own category of shitness" (I think it should be called " :( " to account for total illiteracy). That would then give a bit of credit for trying (slightly) rather than not turning up to the exam.
henwardian - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to James90:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
>
> I was waiting for this cliche

Cliche or not, it is entirely correct:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/sep/17/gcse-exams-replaced-ebacc-history-pass-rates
and
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/may/01/gcse-alevels-easier-says-ofqual

However, it is unlikely that anything will be done about it because any government or authority who returned the exams to the difficulty that they were at (say 20 years ago or more) would have to deal with the inevitable and unsurvivable headlines of "[insert organisation] causes catastrophic plummit in pupil achievement, 50% lower pass rates than last year etc. etc."
Everyone likes to say "look, our kids are getting smarter every year, our teaching is getting better every year, our school is getting better grades every year".
The current trend suits you just fine if you are a parent, a pupil, a teacher, a minister or in any way involved with education (appart from university staff). We all enjoy the lie we tell ourselves and I think we will keep on ignoring the truth till there is kind of shock which throws it into sharp relief. People don't respond to gradual change, they respond to sharp changes (see also global warming).
andy farnell - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to lowersharpnose)
> [...]
>
> My guess is that the exams used to be a lot harder (when I were a lad and all that) and at that time there was more of a spread of grades being attained.

Funnily enough, I was showing GCSE science class an old (1970's) CSE text book and they were amazed at the difficulty and breadth of the content. Then I pointed out that CSE was equivalent to foundation level GCSE...

Andy F
DaveN - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to James90)
>
> [...]

>
> The new marks are 1-8 rather than F-A, with the best mark being 8.
>

For now, wonder how long it will be before these grades go up to 11

PeakDJ on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to henwardian:
> (In reply to James90)
> [...]
>

> The current trend suits you just fine if you are a parent, a pupil, a teacher, a minister or in any way involved with education (appart from university staff). We all enjoy the lie we tell ourselves and I think we will keep on ignoring the truth till there is kind of shock which throws it into sharp relief.

It doesn't suit all teachers just fine. Education over the past few decades has failed so many students in Britain that, as a fairly new teacher, I have been disgusted by just how little most kids can do. The results of things like PISA show how Britain compares with other nations globally. To me that's a much better measure of the quality of education in Britain, although it wont show a deterioration over time - yet!


cuppatea on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:
> (In reply to henwardian)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Education over the past few decades has failed so many students

Buckle up! It's about to get harder

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/tough-new-gcses-to-include-spelling-2013061171592



Steve John B - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to DaveN:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> For now, wonder how long it will be before these grades go up to 11

That was my thought when they announced that the top grades would be the highest numbers! Quite apt too really.
cuppatea on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

It's much easier to keep making the number relating to the top mark higher than it is to add a meaningless dribble of *stars* to the nominal top grade of 'A'

I think the top grade at the moment is A+++***:-):-):-)
teflonpete - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

I thought it was due to the combination of GCE 'O' level grades A - F and CSE grades 1 - 5 being combined into a single grade system for GCSEs back in 1987 or whenever it was that the single GCSE replaced the 2 certificate system. We were told that a CSE grade 1 was equivalent to an O level grade C so the wider range of grades for GCSEs reflected that.

I do agree it's pretty pointless going much below a D if employers and A level colleges only count grade C or above as a pass.
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lowersharpnose - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:

Here is the data I was browing:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AoEZjwuqFS2PdEZfSVpFd0UwdExROXlQbHR4d2laUHc&output=...

I notice that just under half of the cohort take religious studies and that it appears easier to pass than lots of other subjects e.g. maths, science, add science, English, French.

I presume schools could be using this subject to boost their headline percentage of those getting 5 GCSEs at A* to C. At a state comp near me, every student takes RE at GCSE.

PeakDJ on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

Also look at the "GCSE equivalents" included in those figures. There are probably a load of BTECs etc in there that aren't really equivalent to grade C/B at GCSE.
lowersharpnose - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

Yes, especially for subjects like biology, chemistry and physics, where the exam is not designed for lower ability students.
cuppatea on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

The schools are in a difficult position. They have to get as many A's (As?) as possible to keep ofsted and parents happy but they are failing the kids by teaching them relatively useless subjects and not preparing them for the rigours of A Level/Uni/Work

999thAndy on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

The situation (at my school) before GCSEs was that only 40% of the kids sat O-levels, so only 40% could 'pass'. So for 60% of the school, they turned up knowing they would come out at the end as 'failures'.

Blue Straggler - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
>
>
> Why bother?

It keeps examiners in employment.
Clarence - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:
> It doesn't suit all teachers just fine. Education over the past few decades has failed so many students in Britain that, as a fairly new teacher, I have been disgusted by just how little most kids can do.

Yes that was my impression from my one year of teaching maths at GCSE-A Level. The school management had deliberately chosen the easiest route through various examining boards in every subject to make their pass rates as presentable as possible. Most of the classroom teachers gave a resigned shrug and told me that they hated the idea of failing the majority but the school had to move at the pace of the slowest learners for the sake of appearance.

Would it really have killed the stats to teach calculus at A-Level?
BarmyAlex118 - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose: I would say that GCSE maths is one of the harder subjects for getting a C in my opinion.

I have taken the test 4 times so far and still cant get any higher then D overall. Was told by my teacher that it was not worth me to resit ever again as i would have to gain another 40 points to be able to gain that C just to say to employers i have a C. Yet i still manged to get into Sixth Form and then onto university, my entry requirements for uni were a C in english and C in science, plus a levels and required ucas points.

They should keep the current system as it is and just have D onward.
Most of the questions you get in the GCSE maths within the pages are only G - D grade with only a couple of C grade ones at the back, you actually have to score at least a D grade on both the calculator and non - calculator to get a C.

Science ( In my experience ) was totally different as you had a couple of tests on a subject and then the grade was taken from what you had done overall.

English requires you to do course work as well as 2 test's, so that way if you don't do to well at the exam the course work brings up the grade so you can still get the C that you need.

I think the government should not focus on doing standard academic tests and instead get the students focused on doing coursework along with occasional exams and keep only exam testing to maths. By focusing on test only you basically alienate those who don't do well in exams and give the advantage of the higher grades to those who do.
999thAndy on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to BarmyAlex118:
> [...]
> I think the government should not focus on doing standard academic tests [...] By focusing on test only you basically alienate those who don't do well in exams and give the advantage of the higher grades to those who do.

Unfortunately most uni's are pretty keen on academic testing, and since most politicians went to uni, there is a degree of small 'c' conservatism built in to the system.
lowersharpnose - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to BarmyAlex118:

Would you stand a better chance of passing maths if you took the higher paper? AIUI, you could get loads wrong and still get a C. I know the material is harder, but if you are prone to error it may help.
lowersharpnose - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:

I think the BTECs/equivalents are embedded in the data. Perhaps the E, F & G grades in the triple science subjects really come from these equivalents.
jkarran - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

Why don't we just rank students' results in percentile bands? Presumably because that way there's no way to frig the results to demonstrate the continual year-on-year improvement in teaching standards or student ability?

The current suggestion of 1-8 with highest achievement denoted by the upper (seemingly arbitrary and open) end numbers seems pretty opaque and wide open to future abuse.

jk
teflonpete - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to BarmyAlex118:

> I think the government should not focus on doing standard academic tests and instead get the students focused on doing coursework along with occasional exams and keep only exam testing to maths. By focusing on test only you basically alienate those who don't do well in exams and give the advantage of the higher grades to those who do.

The problem with moving away from an exam focus is that a lot of jobs require the abilities that examination conditions test. Rapid recall and problem solving can only be tested under time constraints. I was fortunate to have gone to school at a time when grades were more exam focused and we had teachers who coached us and trained us in exam techniques. It shouldn't be about alienating those who don't do well in exams, it should be about coaching those who don't do well in exams to do better.
lowersharpnose - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to jkarran:

A very rational solution, with no room for fudging or "improvement".
lowersharpnose - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Clarence:

How is it possible to do A level maths without calculus?
jkarran - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

> A very rational solution, with no room for fudging or "improvement".

I feared as much :)
teflonpete - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> (In reply to Clarence)
>
> How is it possible to do A level maths without calculus?

We did calculus as part of AO level. Can't remember it now 29 years later though!

PeakDJ on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> (In reply to PeakDJ)
>
> I think the BTECs/equivalents are embedded in the data. Perhaps the E, F & G grades in the triple science subjects really come from these equivalents.

I doubt the E,F & G grades in the triple sciences come from "equivalents".

Regardless what grading system we have, secondary qualifications are now fairly meaningless in terms of telling you much about the quality of a school, or even (to some extent) what an individual student can do.

As long as published league tables and benchmarking exist in education, whatever grading system is used headteachers and senior leadership teams will find ways to make their students look better than they actually are. To put it scientifically, it's all bollox.
climb the peak - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Clarence: For the course I'm taking calculus is a massive part of the entire course. The last of six exams that is sat for A-level maths is almost entirely calculus
Darron - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

>
> Why bother?


To differentiate between grade D students and grade G students. If not what would you suggest for them?
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climb the peak - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to jkarran:
I think exams serve two purposes. Firstly to show that someone is generally competent in the subject they are studying, to show this the student should get a pass in the subject. Secondly exams are there to differentiate between the more and less able. I think ranking students in percentile bands is great for addressing the second point.
It would be good if, as well as this there was a separate mark that simply stated whether or not the student had passed the exam, to show employees that the student had reached a certain minimum level in there subject.
Clarence - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

They may have tightened up the loophole now but one of the examining boards only had calculus on the Further Maths A level syllabus back in 2004/5.
lowersharpnose - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Darron:

Give the 1.8% of students who don't achieve a D or above a U grade. I cannot believe it is worthwhile to dissect failure so finely. It is not done at the top end.
Darron - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

We should not consider it failure. Failure is when a pupil does not achieve the grade of which they are capable.
There are pupils who cannot achieve a grade C because of their low ability level (or indeed a disability). Having grades D to G allows those pupils to achieve the very best grade of which they are capable. In my experience there is a big difference between a grade D student and (say) a grade F student. Incidentely, many students try as hard for their D as others do for an A.
Toerag - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to BarmyAlex118:
> I think the government should not focus on doing standard academic tests and instead get the students focused on doing coursework along with occasional exams and keep only exam testing to maths. By focusing on test only you basically alienate those who don't do well in exams and give the advantage of the higher grades to those who do.

....and by focussing on coursework that can be re-submitted time and time again until it's good enough, and actually done by someone other than the pupil you are making a mockery of the point of the exams.
PeakDJ on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Darron:

But do employers and FE/HE institutions share your view...?
andic - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Clarence:
> (In reply to lowersharpnose)
>
> They may have tightened up the loophole now but one of the examining boards only had calculus on the Further Maths A level syllabus back in 2004/5.

What a disgrace. How can anyone hope to succeed in a BEng without a decent foundation in calculus? I recently had to improve my own maths and it is a miserable endeavour, not something an 18 year old should have to take on along with their uni course.
PeakDJ on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to andic:
> (In reply to Clarence)
> [...]
>
> What a disgrace. How can anyone hope to succeed in a BEng without a decent foundation in calculus? I recently had to improve my own maths and it is a miserable endeavour, not something an 18 year old should have to take on along with their uni course.

The education system has, generally, very low expectations of young people nowadays - they aren't expected to do much that they might find hard work or difficult to understand. Unfortunately they often have to play catch up later in life.

My sister works as a research team leader in Physics and Oceanography at Oxford. They have to run "remedial" Maths classes for a fairly large proportion of MSc and PhD students who have good grades (usually grade A!) in A-level Maths. A-level maths doesn't seem to be preparing students for further study in related fields any more.




Double Knee Bar - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to andic: to be fair, i did calculus in my maths GCSE, i left high school in 2005. It wont have changed that much since then surely? When i started my BTEC ONC in 2006 a basic comprehension of calculus was expected of you.
Totally-Normal - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ: So what you would suggest is another Maths A-level that would allow students who aim to FURTHER study maths related subjects to take more advanced or FURTHER maths modules- Wouldn't that be great? ;)
BarmyAlex118 - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose: I Have thought about that but you ether get the c or fail it completely, i have to re do it anyway as i hope to do post grad teaching qualification training.

I have done 2 Btec's and found them to be the best courses i have ever done. Yes it involved all coursework but i don't see what the problem for that is as i got very high grade's and ended up finishing with D* D D (A*,A,A). I don't think personally i would have handled doing no coursework and then a one major exam at the end. At my sixth form those who had to take exams at as level seemed to get far lower grades. I think that the btec awards teach you to write good work in a short deadline to a fairly high word count.

Yes unis still have to use examinations but for most of my 1st year on my degree i have been writing 2 - 3 thousand word essays with references. I only had one exam this year and have only to do one again next year, but for the majority of the work will be done via written assignments.

I personally think that a good compromise would be exams and coursework, instead of being 100% exam focused you have say 50% coursework and 50% exams.
Offwidth - on 19 Jun 2013
Darron - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:
> (In reply to Darron)
>
> But do employers and FE/HE institutions share your view...?


Well for the grades D-G the HE institutions would not be involved but yes, of course employers and FE institutions understand. There are plenty of courses at FE institutions that require (for instance) GCSE grades of D to begin the course.
I think you are looking at education as only C and above and the path to A's & Uni. Despite what you hear and read in the papers there is a lot going on in terms of vocational education. For instance most schools send selected Yr10/11 pupils out to local FE colleges for a day a week and maybe work experience for a day a week in vocational subjects. The funding for this is being cut mind you so expect it to reduce.

andic - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Totally-Normal:

Do all schools offer such a thing?

If (for example) calculus was introduced earlier and more maths was taught younger there would be ample time at a level to explore simple but important applications. same goes for statistics, and all other operations.

My OH was educated abroad and was way ahead of me at 18, our kids are not going to be able to compete, its alright fighting for uni places against other pupils with the same holes in their education but the real game is international and they are being let down.

lowersharpnose - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to BarmyAlex118:

I Have thought about that but you ether get the c or fail it completely

What is the problem with that?

You want to get a C or above not add another D.

janiejonesworld - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Your comment about employers is what I thought too, anything less than a C is considered a failure.

A*; A= old money O level pass
B;C = old money CSE pass
everything below = SFA
climb the peak - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ: I think what your saying about the education system having low expectations of young people is true in a lot of cases. When it comes to maths at oxbridge though, I think it's the opposite way round. The norm for oxbridge or other universities such as imperial is to have done further maths at A-level as well as just maths. They say having further maths isn't an advantage when applying, but I really think it is. If students havn't done it there expected to teach them selves some further maths modules.
A-level maths, in my opinion anyway, is challenging
janiejonesworld - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Darron:
> (In reply to lowersharpnose)
>
> [...]
>
>
> To differentiate between grade D students and grade G students. If not what would you suggest for them?

a banana peeling race?
PeakDJ on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Darron:
> (In reply to PeakDJ)
> [...]
>
>
> Well for the grades D-G the HE institutions would not be involved but yes, of course employers and FE institutions understand. There are plenty of courses at FE institutions that require (for instance) GCSE grades of D to begin the course.
> I think you are looking at education as only C and above and the path to A's & Uni. Despite what you hear and read in the papers there is a lot going on in terms of vocational education. For instance most schools send selected Yr10/11 pupils out to local FE colleges for a day a week and maybe work experience for a day a week in vocational subjects. The funding for this is being cut mind you so expect it to reduce.

I am more than aware of the fact that the majority of students don't go on to A-levels and University. I've spent considerable time over the last year or two teaching some of these students.

I still believe that if our education system can't help a very large majority of students achieve a grade C in Maths (and a few other subjects) then it's failing them. Even students themselves see a grade D or below as a fail, as they know that their job and further study opportunities are more limited if they only secure these lower grades.

A student with a god basic grasp of Maths (say around grade C standard at GCSE), English Science etc will have far better life chances than a student without. They will also be much better equipped to make informed decisions when they vote etc in future. A grade C isn't about getting onto A-level courses or into Uni, but more about a good general grasp of the fundamentals. In my view we should continue to push for this alongside vocational training and qualifications. It's not a case of "one or the other."
PeakDJ on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Totally-Normal:

I am aware of the further maths stuff, but why can't that stuff be covered in the standard A-level?

It used to be, so why not now? Have students got dumber? Can't they cope with some of the more complex stuff? Or are we just offering a better degree of choice in qualifications? If the latter is true, then how does this benefit students in terms of their ability to gain employment or cope with further study?

In my view we now have two many different levels of qualification trying to cater for every possible level of ability/interest/intelligence. We now have BTECs through to things like further maths, but I'm not convinced that students are any better equipped than they used to be.
andic - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to climb the peak:
> (In reply to PeakDJ) I
> A-level maths, in my opinion anyway, is challenging

Yes, but if you had been taught just a little more at every stage of your education, a much more advanced A level would feel just as challenging but be far more worth while
lowersharpnose - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Thanks for that.

Orgsm on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:
> (In reply to Totally-Normal)
>
> I am aware of the further maths stuff, but why can't that stuff be covered in the standard A-level?
>

Because maths is wide subject, and you couldn't cover all the material in the time available to teach it, if it was lumped under a single 'A' level. Some mistakenly think further maths is harder than that covered in maths at 'a' level. It's not, it just covers other areas of maths. Even maths 'a' can vary a lot depending on whether its pure and stats, pure and mechanics etc.

The Biochemist on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to climb the peak:

I go to Oxford, and I've not found many people on my course who have further maths, are at much of an advantage over those with just A-level maths. However, there are people who only have AS or GCSE maths who certainly struggle...

Further maths comes into its own for Maths or Physics based courses. he modules are just too specialised for most subjects otherwise - even at Oxbridge.

PeakDJ on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it:

It all used to be covered in the standard a level (didn't it?) so why not now? Is it the case that students now have a lower starting point because they aren't learning as much of the basic material from 11-16?
lowersharpnose - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:

In my day (1982) further maths contained stuff that was above standard A level.

It is true that the A level covered stuff not done now like groups and more involved calculus

e.g. A projectile is fired vertically up with an initial velocity u. If it experiences a resistive force of kv acting in the opposite direction to the velocity. Calculate its high point and the time taken to reach it.

(From memory, force may be kv or kv*2)
Wheelsy - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to lowersharpnose)
> [...]
>
> My guess is that the exams used to be a lot harder (when I were a lad and all that) and at that time there was more of a spread of grades being attained.

Interestingly I downloaded the grade boundaries for the January 2013 exams from the OCR website the other day (I'm a science teacher). People may (or may not) be suprised to hear that for GCSE Physics (Twenty First Century Science suite) the grade boundary for an A* was 36/60 (60%) for the Unit 1 exam and 33/60 (55%) for the Unit 2 exam.

Make of that what you will.
teflonpete - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Wheelsy:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
> [...]
>
> Interestingly I downloaded the grade boundaries for the January 2013 exams from the OCR website the other day (I'm a science teacher). People may (or may not) be suprised to hear that for GCSE Physics (Twenty First Century Science suite) the grade boundary for an A* was 36/60 (60%) for the Unit 1 exam and 33/60 (55%) for the Unit 2 exam.
>
> Make of that what you will.

For an A*? That's ridiculous, it should be 80% at least, probably 85%, if an A* is to mean anything. What is the grade boundary for a D?

lowersharpnose - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

Have a look at the Unit A paper for the Jan 2012 (2013 not yet on website) exam in this type of physics.

http://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/79234-question-paper-unit-a331-02-unit-01-modules-p1-p2-p3-higher-tier....

It is all description and few numbers.
Orgsm on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to teflonpete:
> (In reply to Wheelsy)
> [...]
>
> For an A*? That's ridiculous, it should be 80% at least, probably 85%, if an A* is to mean anything. What is the grade boundary for a D?

55% that's the grade boundary to get a C surely?
teflonpete - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

Where are the questions for which students need to recall formulae and calculate answers? That paper is half general science, half history! Physics at that level used to be about Ohm's law, Newton's laws, mechanical sciences, moments etc.
PeakDJ on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
> [...]
>
> 55% that's the grade boundary to get a C surely?

Nope...it's for an A!

The fact that exam boards move around grade boundaries masks any deterioration in results over time...

lowersharpnose - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

This AQA Unit 2 Higher paper is slightly better

http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/subjects/AQA-PHY2H-QP-E-JUN12.PDF

Mark Schemes and what not here.

Still wordy and not much numerical ability required and no recall of formulae.
lowersharpnose - on 21 Jun 2013
PopShot on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose: I don't understand why the system can't be simplified so that students who are below say C simply get marked a fail or X grade? I mean why bother grading failure?

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