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

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  • 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%

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    it's too simplistic to categorise science as 'hard' and arts as 'easy'. I know someone who has a maths degree and then went on to do PGCE in secondary maths but failed the essay writing components despite getting a first. They are just different skills. However I agree that arts are perceived to be easier options than sciences.
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    (Original post by madders94)
    I like it when science students are all "English Lit is so easy, all you do is talk about books and poems, I could do that".

    Oh really. So you can analyze the attitudes of the different narrative perspectives towards Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, with particular attention to the different frameworks - lexical choice, phonology, rhetorical effects, figurative language, discourse structure etc etc etc (the list goes on!), AND compare it to a similar thing in another text you've read in an hour and a quarter, and then for the other hour and a quarter, compare two or three UNSEEN texts - usually a poetry, a prose and a non-fiction text - compare them all in terms of the same kind of frameworks, including structure and form, and analyze their attitude and purpose, and that's all ridiculously easy?

    Most of them don't even know what "lexical choice" means. Pshaw.
    I completely agree with you and yes, I don't have a clue what "lexical choice" means. Of course, a mathematician could come back at you for your (presumed) lack of understanding of Sturm-Liouville theory, so it does go in swings and roundabouts.

    What attracted me to science though, over arts, is that you can prove how good you are at something. A great author might write what I consider to be a wonderful essay - but you have every right to consider it to be a load of rubbish. But on the other hand, no one can argue that the velocity and position of a particle can be simultaneously known or that mass doesn't curve space-time. Whilst art is fascinating, it is very much a human construct, whereas science is fundamental and universal.
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    (Original post by 3nTr0pY)
    I completely agree with you and yes, I don't have a clue what "lexical choice" means. Of course, a mathematician could come back at you for your (presumed) lack of understanding of Sturm-Liouville theory, so it does go in swings and roundabouts.

    What attracted me to science though, over arts, is that you can prove how good you are at something. A great author might write what I consider to be a wonderful essay - but you have every right to consider it to be a load of rubbish. But on the other hand, no one can argue that the velocity and position of a particle can be simultaneously known or that mass doesn't curve space-time. Whilst art is fascinating, it is very much a human construct, whereas science is fundamental and universal.
    Hehe I have absolutely NO idea what Sturm-Liouville theory is, but at the same time, I'm well aware that I wouldn't find a Maths A Level easy. It just annoys me when the sciencey/mathsy people say "Oh your a levels are SO easy compared to mine", when I know that just the same as how if you sat me in a maths exam today, I wouldn't have a clue, they'd be exactly the same if they were sat down in an English exam!
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    (Original post by madders94)
    I like it when science students are all "English Lit is so easy, all you do is talk about books and poems, I could do that".

    Oh really. So you can analyze the attitudes of the different narrative perspectives towards Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, with particular attention to the different frameworks - lexical choice, phonology, rhetorical effects, figurative language, discourse structure etc etc etc (the list goes on!), AND compare it to a similar thing in another text you've read in an hour and a quarter, and then for the other hour and a quarter, compare two or three UNSEEN texts - usually a poetry, a prose and a non-fiction text - compare them all in terms of the same kind of frameworks, including structure and form, and analyze their attitude and purpose, and that's all ridiculously easy?

    Most of them don't even know what "lexical choice" means. Pshaw.
    Pet peeve! Analyse*.

    Sorry
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    With the experience i've had from school i think this is untrue.
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    (Original post by I Gurn Hard)
    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.
    I hardly think you managed to pass an A-level with no knowledge rattling around whatosever, don't be silly.

    Well done on your progress on recovering though, at least you now recognise that it was a dark stage of your life and you've got your whole life ahead of you, but I find it very difficult to believe you didn't go to any lessons or use revision materials and came out with a decent pass during A-levels. If you were talking about GCSEs though, they were predominantly tick boxes anyway so even if you were half-cut you still had a good chance of passing
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    Yes, but its a lot harder for maths, f. maths, physics students to get into uni's they want compared to art students.
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    (Original post by Lumos)
    they're biased in a way that a mcuh higher percentage of students studying maths and science A levels get A*s than students studying History, english, Languages, etc, because getting 100% is down to knowing your facts and theories really well. there are always right answers, there is a formula to getting full marks: know the syllabus. If you think I'm wrong, consider that 20% of A level maths students get A*s, and 30% of A further maths students get A*s, compared to 7% in history and french.
    Thats because people find science+math hard at GCSE, therefore they drop it after GCSE, leaving those who are good at sciences to continue with sciences at A-Level, hence higher pecentage of A/A*s for such subjects. 30% of people doing further math get A*s because they are gifted mathmo's, not because further math is easy.





    (Original post by tieyourmotherdown)
    I see where you're coming from, but I think it's a problem of the wider education system.

    It also annoys me when people put forward the idea that arts subjects are easier than maths/science based subjects, because that really doesn't appear to be the case. Everybody I know doing Maths/Physics/Chemistry has averaged 80%+ in their first semester of university, whereas on my course (Politics) that's pretty much unheard of, if not impossible.
    Maybe thats because people doing science degrees tend to do so because they have a natural aptitude for science, so tend to do better. People doing politics may not be naturally good at it?
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    (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?
    Your argument is flawed on several points.

    Contrary to popular belief most maths students DO find maths 'hard' or 'challenging' or 'confusing' or what-ever you want to call it but for most people who take the subject part of the enjoyment is tackling these problems simply because they are difficult.
    In the exceptional cases where someone is what you might call 'naturally good' at maths then yes perhaps they would get an easy 2 A's at A level maths and further maths however Physics has a lot of theory in it so I don't agree on that even though maths helps significantly.
    The reason the English Baccalaureate does not take into account art subjects is because its intended purpose is to encourage students to take more traditional GCSE subjects which are particularly facilitating. Now we could argue for ages as to if you or I perceive arts to be facilitating or not but the point is the government thinks they are not!
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    (Original post by SpicyStrawberry)
    I hardly think you managed to pass an A-level with no knowledge rattling around whatosever, don't be silly.

    Well done on your progress on recovering though, at least you now recognise that it was a dark stage of your life and you've got your whole life ahead of you, but I find it very difficult to believe you didn't go to any lessons or use revision materials and came out with a decent pass during A-levels. If you were talking about GCSEs though, they were predominantly tick boxes anyway so even if you were half-cut you still had a good chance of passing
    I went to most of the lessons except for the last month or two of year 13, so I 'absorbed' some information.

    Thanks for the support
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    (Original post by AtomicMan)
    Thats because people find science+math hard at GCSE, therefore they drop it after GCSE, leaving those who are good at sciences to continue with sciences at A-Level, hence higher pecentage of A/A*s for such subjects. 30% of people doing further math get A*s because they are gifted mathmo's, not because further math is easy.
    I think everyone drops the subjects they do badly at after GCSE and pursue the ones they are better at at A level? I think a factor may be that 'intelligent' people feel pressured to take science and maths because they are seen as 'harder' subjects for 'smart' people. I myself did better at sciences than I did humanities and arts at GCSE (comparitively... I got A*s in both fields but found arts subjects much more challenging and stimulating), and found myself one of the very few people from 'top sets' that didn't take at least 2 sciences or maths.
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    (Original post by madders94)
    Hehe I have absolutely NO idea what Sturm-Liouville theory is, but at the same time, I'm well aware that I wouldn't find a Maths A Level easy. It just annoys me when the sciencey/mathsy people say "Oh your a levels are SO easy compared to mine", when I know that just the same as how if you sat me in a maths exam today, I wouldn't have a clue, they'd be exactly the same if they were sat down in an English exam!
    Actually, that was probably a bad example from me...Sturm-Liouville theory is University level maths. An example from A-level would be something like integration by parts.

    Tbh, I think that people shouldn't worry about how 'hard' or 'easy' their degree is. They should simply do what they enjoy to the best of their ability whilst trying to make sure that the subject they choose allows them to contribute towards society. At the end of the day we're all in the genetic lottery together when it comes to natural talent. We just gotta use what we got and try and improve what we haven't.
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    Well this is awkward I take maths, further maths and fine art ...
    And yes it is unfair because I had a real interest in art but then when A-levels came our creativity was restricted and it just bores me to death because I want to be creative but my creativity doesn't suit the A-level syllabus :/

    And whoever thinks F maths is quite easy it bloody isn't some of the work is so confusing and if you go wrong it takes like 10 minutes to find the problem.
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    (Original post by Gales)
    Pet peeve! Analyse*.

    Sorry
    The computer is set to American auto-correct :facepalm2:. Going to change it to British - I'm used to my laptop which is actually on British and doesn't try to auto-correct me I hate Americanisms too
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    (Original post by 3nTr0pY)
    Actually, that was probably a bad example from me...Sturm-Liouville theory is University level maths. An example from A-level would be something like integration by parts.

    Tbh, I think that people shouldn't worry about how 'hard' or 'easy' their degree is. They should simply do what they enjoy to the best of their ability whilst trying to make sure that the subject they choose allows them to contribute towards society. At the end of the day we're all in the genetic lottery together when it comes to natural talent. We just gotta use what we got and try and improve what we haven't.
    Integration by parts is a foreign concept to me too I can't even remember how to do the stuff we did at GCSE (algebra, powers etc - I don't even know what a prime number is!), goodness knows how I managed to scrape a C!
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    I would agree with a lot of posts on here to be honest. It's not biased towards arts subjects in my opinion, but personally I would agree that arts subjects are certainly more difficult to achieve top marks for.
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    (Original post by madders94)
    Integration by parts is a foreign concept to me too I can't even remember how to do the stuff we did at GCSE (algebra, powers etc - I don't even know what a prime number is!), goodness knows how I managed to scrape a C!
    Awww, you should do some for fun in your spare time.



    But seriously though, you don't know what a prime number is? Having gone through school, how is that even possible!? Certain basic stuff, like knowing what prime numbers are, being able to work out percentages and being able to do tensor calculus in curvilinear coordinates is something everybody should be able to do. Ok, maybe not the last one, but definitely the other two. :P
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    I find that with Maths A Level, if you are good at it and work reasonably hard, it is 'easy' to get the grades you want. However, with art subjects such as History, they are more subjective with the marking and it is harder to predict what you'll actually come out with grades-wise. That being said, I don't consider either arts or sciences to be easier

    And to all those saying that they can achieve As and A*s in arts subjects with next to no work, you are either geniuses (in which case I am extremely jealous) or you are lying. A Levels are not that easy...
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    |I think they're biased in favour of arts...apart from the fact that you have to take 2 english gcses, because most of the population are worse at maths/science, the maths/science grade boundaries for gcse are ridiculously low whereas for the arts they're much higher meaning that for someone like me, who is good at maths/science but not particularly good at things like english/history, I got way above the a* grade boundary for my science/maths gcses but didn't get an A* in english, whereas people who were good at english, bad at maths got A*s in both. Hope this makes sense. But I do understand where you're coming from about creative subjects being more subjective (in marking).
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    (Original post by 3nTr0pY)
    Awww, you should do some for fun in your spare time.



    But seriously though, you don't know what a prime number is? Having gone through school, how is that even possible!? Certain basic stuff, like knowing what prime numbers are, being able to work out percentages and being able to do tensor calculus in curvilinear coordinates is something everybody should be able to do. Ok, maybe not the last one, but definitely the other two. :P
    I knew it at one point, I think (I was a bit shaky on it but thankfully almost all my friends were mathsy-minded and they'd remind me or test me or give me a hand with it), and I can sort of do percentages, but it basically just goes in one ear and out the other - my head doesn't deal with maths very well, apart from the very basics - adding, subtracting, multiplication and easy division. I was ok when I had it laid out in front of me - an easy formula like how to work out the perimeter/area/diameter of a shape, if I have the formula and some information in front of me I can do it, but I've always had a really creative mind as opposed to logical. My GCSE maths book was filled with more doodles than there were sums because I couldn't keep my focus!

    I never managed sin/cos/tan/all the other ones like that, sort of managed to do the whole "find x" thing but I've forgotten how to do it now and I've forgotten the actual word for it, hopeless at working out volumes and probability... the numbers just all ended up getting jumbled up in my head and I ended up either having to ask the teacher for help in every lesson, or just sitting there and waiting for the answers because my head can't deal with anything more than basic maths.

    Yet with subjects like English, Welsh, French, the performance aspect of music and other similar subjects, I was the one people asked for help because I've always found it incredibly easy and natural. It's the same with computers, which people say is odd, but I understand computers and how to work things on the computer very well - basically because I'm inquisitive and explore all the toolbars and what all the different buttons do before we're even given the instructions

    EDIT: Are prime numbers the ones where you can divide them by themselves and get the square root or something? It's times like these that remind me just how long ago it feels like GCSEs were :eek:

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Updated: February 26, 2012
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