Results are out! Find what you need...fast. Get quick advice or join the chat
Hey there! Sign in to have your say on this topicNew here? Join for free to post

GCSEs and A levels are biased against arts students - agree or disagree?

This thread is sponsored by:
Announcements Posted on
  • View Poll Results: GCSEs and A levels are biased against arts students - agree or disagree?
    Agree
    23.24%
    Disagree
    50.70%
    It is more complicated than that (please leave reply in this case)
    26.06%

    • Thread Starter
    • 3 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I rarely post in the 'constitutional' politics forum, but felt like I needed to make this thread.
    Students who are good at maths are assured 3 As (or 3 good grades) at A level (maths, further maths, physics) whereas sudents who are good at art aren't even guaranteed 1 (because, correct me if I'm wrong, art is taught and assessed in a way that doesn't really reward interest or aptitude in the subject (not that you can really be 'good' at art)).
    At GCSE, there are 4 'science' subjects (maybe more if you count things like geology or human biology which I believe are taught at GCSE, or even FSMQ) and many other subjects (i.e. Geography) that have overlap with science, whereas at GCSE all arts subjects (I'm not sure about art itself) are taught/assessed by getting students to analyse other art rather than creating their own (i.e. English Literature analysing poems, Drama analysing plays, music analysing other people's compositions etc.) so they may lose their interest in their art form (or maybe even art in general) by being formally taught it.
    The English Baccalaureate requires (at least it encourages) 3 science subjects but no art subjects that require 'creating' (I know that English language always has a small bit of coursework on creative writing but that is just tiny) and the arts subjects that are on there (history/geography, foreign language and english) have some overlap with science (as I already said) in that geography has 'physical geography' which is basically just science with an amplified social aspect and three of the four (english being the exception) having an emphasis on rote learning, which science students will be more comfortable with.
    So what are your opinions?
    • Thread Starter
    • 3 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    BUMP
    One vote and no discussion? I would have thought that this is a fairly good stimulus for discussion. Especially on a student forum...
    • 6 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I'm not sure I entirely agree with you, but leaving that aside, how would you do it differently?
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Well, Science A levels are always ranked as hardest, including the three you mentioned. Infact, I would say it is easier to get 3 As in Arts/Humanities than it is in Sciences.

    + I think it's also the case with science A levels that it doesn't always test ability with it being possible to do well in some maths modules with good memory and little understanding.
    • 7 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    GCSE Science misleads people, I reckon. The GCSEs aren't too difficult so people think they'll be fine at A Level but it's very, very different. Whereas if you are good at an Arts subject at GCSE, you'll probably still be good at it at A Level.

    Edit: This is coming from an Arts student by the way so this is what I've observed.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Maybe you should sue the government for violating your human rights as an arts student?
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    The specifications for humanities are decent I'd say. In the case of History, while you can't create study-able "new" History, students can't be expected to undertake their own independent study and analysis of historical texts leading to an evaluation. In things like Art - while I've not looked specifically at any arts spec - everyone in my schools seems to do a lot of drawing/painting (i.e. making their own original thing). However, there has to be a certain taught element to Art as just letting people sit and draw with no focus would be boring for the students and be incredibly difficult to mark.

    It has to be said to balance your "creation" argument that nobody "creates" any Maths or Physics as part of their course. In terms of marking though, there is always going to be some subjectivity in the arts - it's just in their nature. There can be no subjectivity in Maths or the Sciences though as the answer is either correct or incorrect (obviously allowing for partially correct answers in mark schemes) so people get what they deserve (usually). This might not happen in the arts as an examiner might not 'get' a piece of artwork, or doesn't quite understand a point made in an English essay.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    The arts subjects are almost unforgivably easy. I did mine while high in hospital, overdosing, and got 3A*'s and an A. I'm sick of hearing of everyone doing really well with no effort in arts subjects as having done it myself I realise it means nothing. I really regret not doing the sciences, or at least a quantitative subject such as economics or maths. I think that GCSE's and A levels are biased in FAVOUR of arts subjects, and the thread starter hasn't considered the fact that arts subjects are doable with no revision, preparation or prior knowledge whatsoever, as you can just walk in with a writing ability and walk out with 100% (done by me and a few others), whereas at least with quantitative subjects, some level of knowledge is required to pass (regardless of whether people find it 'easy' or not).
    • 12 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I think it's rather more complicated than that, but I do see your point.

    I think that it's how your natural ability correlates with the subject. I.e. if you are naturally intelligent, it will be much easier to get an A/A* in physics and maths than geography and history. But if you aren't naturally intelligent, then you may not even be able to pass science/maths, but you may be able to get Cs in history/geography. Basically, it's a bit of a sliding scale where raw natural ability is more of a factor in the sciences/maths than the arts.

    That's the way I see it anyways.

    Edit: And I'd like to add that if you look at the grades achieved for science against arts... you would easily be able to tell that results are MUCH higher (in terms of A/A* grades) for sciences/maths than for arts. It can be very difficult to gain full marks in essay based exams, unlike in sciences. It's an anecdote, but I find the arts to be more challenging, even though I will do better in them (I do geog/history/maths/physics). Plus most people I know who do sciences are terrible at essay writing anyways... I'd also like to add that you have to be pretty deluded to want to weight academic arts subjects differently to science/maths, seeing as 1) difficulty of a subject is subjective, most of these rankings of difficulty aren't very valid and 2) The % of A/A* grades for maths is about twice that of history, somewhat indicative of history being more difficult (but again, this shouldn't be imposed as being the case). And as someone who does both it is totally understandable.

    Neggers, care to explain? Or are you just triple scientists (with maths), and I struck a nerve? :rolleyes:
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I do agree with the fact that the three mentioned sciences and math/further maths are the hardest A-levels - mainly because of the amount of material that you are expect to understand and absorb fully. But I do understand that there is more of a focus on them.

    But where I disagree is that that is an 'unfair' or 'bad' thing. I took Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics at A-level, but I feel I was taught the TOOLS necessary to appreciate art and to learn more about it when I am ready or want to. I have't taken art in year 9, but I am a big fan of impressionists and love the Musee d'Orsay in paris.

    BUT if i had stopped physics or maths at a younger age, you lose the capability to learn more independently in the future simply because of the DEPTH of the material.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Students who are 'good' at maths are far from guaranteed 3 As or even three good grades from maths, further maths and physics. I did maths (mechanics) and while it wasn't the hardest A level I did, it was by no means easy. As for a direct link between success in maths and success in physics, that's nonsense: a friend of mine got A* in maths, and a D in physics. While there was a fair bit of maths in physics, a lot of it is down to actually understanding the topics, and interpreting the questions.

    As for the bias against 'arts' students, do you mean art the subject, or the arts subjects (e.g. creative ones like English, art, etc.), as you first mention about students who are good at art, and then say about history, geography etc.
    In my secondary school, GCSE students could take art, textiles, history, english lit. and language, geography, RS, and Design Technology (where designing and creating something makes up a large part of the course), while the science subjects offered were maths, physics, biology, chemistry, and additional maths.

    Students who are just interested in art have the option of taking a BTEC in art and earning the 'equivalent' of three A levels from one qualification. Those who have broader interests can take a range of A levels, and not everyone who is good at maths just takes maths, further maths, and physics.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by I Gurn Hard)
    The arts subjects are almost unforgivably easy. I did mine while high in hospital, overdosing, and got 3A*'s and an A. I'm sick of hearing of everyone doing really well with no effort in arts subjects as having done it myself I realise it means nothing. I really regret not doing the sciences, or at least a quantitative subject such as economics or maths. I think that GCSE's and A levels are biased in FAVOUR of arts subjects, and the thread starter hasn't considered the fact that arts subjects are doable with no revision, preparation or prior knowledge whatsoever, as you can just walk in with a writing ability and walk out with 100% (done by me and a few others), whereas at least with quantitative subjects, some level of knowledge is required to pass (regardless of whether people find it 'easy' or not).
    Which four subjects were those? Your experiences are quite interesting.

    A-Levels are not significantly hard, in general. Exam technique can take one a very, very long way.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I think put simply its more complicated than that.

    If you want to do art at uni then STEM subjects are useless to you
    If you want to do STEM subjects art is useless to you.

    ofcourse the whole UCAS point argument comes into play here but my point still stands
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Lilium)
    Which four subjects were those? Your experiences are quite interesting.

    A-Levels are not significantly hard, in general. Exam technique can take one a very, very long way.
    I totally agree. My subjects were English Lit, Philosophy and Ethics, Government and Politics and History. I dropped a total of 8 marks in English Lit, around 20 in Philosophy and Ethics (in AS, got 100% in the A2), got 100% in the politics AS then got 80 and 56 in the A2 (proving the marking is horribly inconsistent) and i dropped just enough in history to make me miss out on the A* (got 89.5% or something irritating in the A2, with 100% in AS. Lost the marks on the coursework, believe it or not).

    Ever since these results came through I have lost all faith in the exam system. I was on 140+mg of valium, 2-4mg of buprenorphine (a heroin substitute 40x stronger than morphine mg for mg) and 2 litres of cider when I took my exams. Unless I literally had divine intervention, I did NOT deserve the marks I got, fact.

    I almost dislike talking about it because it's shameful, but I feel my experience really proves the exam boards are flawed. It's not like I even had any knowledge hidden in my head to call upon, I got f*cked up out of depression and spiralling alcoholism, and was convinced I was going to fail the A2's because i'd just let my work go down the toilet, got drunk every night of school with mates etc. Yet they just hand me top top grades. I can maybe imagine blagging B's or something but come on, 100% should mean you are the BEST, and i'm bloody sure I wasn't, considering I could barely keep my eyes open and my oxygen levels were crashing so low I had to be placed on a permanent blood oxygen level monitor, respirator and was on resus watch.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by I Gurn Hard)
    The arts subjects are almost unforgivably easy. I did mine while high in hospital, overdosing, and got 3A*'s and an A. I'm sick of hearing of everyone doing really well with no effort in arts subjects as having done it myself I realise it means nothing. I really regret not doing the sciences, or at least a quantitative subject such as economics or maths. I think that GCSE's and A levels are biased in FAVOUR of arts subjects, and the thread starter hasn't considered the fact that arts subjects are doable with no revision, preparation or prior knowledge whatsoever, as you can just walk in with a writing ability and walk out with 100% (done by me and a few others), whereas at least with quantitative subjects, some level of knowledge is required to pass (regardless of whether people find it 'easy' or not).
    Yeah I completely disagree, you're a moron to think everybody has natural writing ability, otherwise we should see millions of charles dickens sub-children popping up. English is a skill, and indeed, a hard one to grasp, that is to say... it takes effort, real skill, and talent to produce fine literary works and this is inclusive with art. Artists have real talents in drawing etc. and being able to express their styles.

    So no, I couldn't care less about you or hospital which is quite obviously a lie, just a way of spouting some pretentious claptrap that you think people will believe, well unfortunately I don't.

    You claim people who do arts have no knowledge, well dear god - Was Shakespeare a moron? Is Terry Pratchet one of your conservative wetdreams?

    Grow the **** up.


    (Original post by I Gurn Hard)
    Ever since these results came through I have lost all faith in the exam system. I was on 140+mg of valium, 2-4mg of buprenorphine (a heroin substitute 40x stronger than morphine mg for mg) and 2 litres of cider when I took my exams. Unless I literally had divine intervention, I did NOT deserve the marks I got, fact.
    A. No you weren't. B. If they taught you philosophy correctly, you would understand, that perhaps you should not of taken a subject in which you end up with such a morality imbalance... so either you're a profoundly stupid thinker or you're just naive living in your own bliss.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I dont think that there's any arguing that the content of academic subjects is much harder than the arts, and i think this should be reflected in opinion of the subjects, or even going a little further, giving more UCAS points to an A in say physics over the same in art or drama

    I know plenty of people who have taken academic subjects, worked really hard for a place on a uni course, and been beaten to it by someone who has got more UCAS points by doing arts subjects or even vocational subjects such as health and social care. I dont think that giving the same credit to all subjects reflects the ability of the individual and can make for an unfair system.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by When you see it...)
    I rarely post in the 'constitutional' politics forum, but felt like I needed to make this thread.
    Students who are good at maths are assured 3 As (or 3 good grades) at A level (maths, further maths, physics) whereas sudents who are good at art aren't even guaranteed 1 (because, correct me if I'm wrong, art is taught and assessed in a way that doesn't really reward interest or aptitude in the subject (not that you can really be 'good' at art)).
    At GCSE, there are 4 'science' subjects (maybe more if you count things like geology or human biology which I believe are taught at GCSE, or even FSMQ) and many other subjects (i.e. Geography) that have overlap with science, whereas at GCSE all arts subjects (I'm not sure about art itself) are taught/assessed by getting students to analyse other art rather than creating their own (i.e. English Literature analysing poems, Drama analysing plays, music analysing other people's compositions etc.) so they may lose their interest in their art form (or maybe even art in general) by being formally taught it.
    The English Baccalaureate requires (at least it encourages) 3 science subjects but no art subjects that require 'creating' (I know that English language always has a small bit of coursework on creative writing but that is just tiny) and the arts subjects that are on there (history/geography, foreign language and english) have some overlap with science (as I already said) in that geography has 'physical geography' which is basically just science with an amplified social aspect and three of the four (english being the exception) having an emphasis on rote learning, which science students will be more comfortable with.
    So what are your opinions?
    I'm pretty sure a vast majority of my GCSE drama and music was devising our own plays/pieces, composing and performance, and all my friends doing art were constantly working on their pieces. Although that was 4 years ago, can't imagine it's changed too much.
    • 9 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    art is not gonna make the government any real money, so this doesn't surprise me.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by DanielMartin)
    Yeah I completely disagree, you're a moron to think everybody has natural writing ability, otherwise we should see millions of charles dickens sub-children popping up. English is a skill, and indeed, a hard one to grasp, that is to say... it takes effort, real skill, and talent to produce fine literary works and this is inclusive with art. Artists have real talents in drawing etc. and being able to express their styles.

    So no, I couldn't care less about you or hospital which is quite obviously a lie, just a way of spouting some pretentious claptrap that you think people will believe, well unfortunately I don't.

    You claim people who do arts have no knowledge, well dear god - Was Shakespeare a moron? Is Terry Pratchet one of your conservative wetdreams?

    Grow the **** up.




    A. No you weren't. B. If they taught you philosophy correctly, you would understand, that perhaps you should not of taken a subject in which you end up with such a morality imbalance... so either you're a profoundly stupid thinker or you're just naive living in your own bliss.
    I never said arts students have no knowledge, I said I needed no knowledge to do well at A level. An A level in English is hardly comparable to writing a masterpiece anyway, as i've proven by doing it while incoherent.

    P.S. I'd go out of my way to show you that I was in hospital, and why, but to be honest, I wouldn't know where to start and it isn't worth it as it's in the past, i just thought it would be useful to this discussion.

    I almost died. I find it quite horrible that you'd think I was lying about that. Perhaps watch the video in my signature showing me drinking super-lager during school time before lessons, day after day and you'll begin to understand how little me and my cohort cared about school. Yet we all came out with A's and A*'s. I'm not proud of it, i just used my experience to colour this argument. If anything, it was a disgusting, shameful chapter of my life that i'm glad is behind me (teetotal 5 weeks now). Still, no need to be so rude when I was going through massive problems which i've thankfully addressed and am proud of myself for.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I'd completely disagree with the thing about no subjects teaching you to "create".

    In music, which I took for GCSE and AS level, you look at other people's music, perform music (usually other people's but I think you could potentially perform your own piece) and there is a composition section. I believe this structure is similar to drama and art. Without analysing other pieces, all you are creating without purpose or reference and as such are just making something that sounds nice or is a nice picture, which is pretty pointless for examination. I mean, how do you test something like that? Also, English Language at A level has a huge creating part in the coursework, as well as analysing text and investigating language. Other courses like history and geography can't be "creative".

    I don't think there is any bias really in the system to be honest. I think you have oversimplified the way the subjects are taught.

Reply

Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. By joining you agree to our Ts and Cs, privacy policy and site rules

  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: February 26, 2012
New on TSR

The future of apprenticeships

Join the discussion in the apprenticeships hub!

Article updates
Useful resources
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.