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GCSE exams to be made harder by 2013

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    Hi all,
    I'm at university doing an assignment on the Ofqual's decision to make GCSEs harder starting this September and I wanted to know your (students of course) thoughts on this issue. They will tighten 4 subjects: Maths, English lit, Geography and History, the exams will all be linear and they say that this is to make sure students cover the whole curriculum rather than the bits teachers assume will be on the test.
    Please leave your comments about the issue (it will help me a lot)
    Thank you in advance...
    Mariana Cardoso
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    (Original post by Mariana_1)
    Hi all,
    I'm at university doing an assignment on the Ofqual's decision to make GCSEs harder starting this September and I wanted to know your (students of course) thoughts on this issue. They will tighten 4 subjects: Maths, English lit, Geography and History, the exams will all be linear and they say that this is to make sure students cover the whole curriculum rather than the bits teachers assume will be on the test.
    Please leave your comments about the issue (it will help me a lot)
    Thank you in advance...
    Mariana Cardoso
    To be honest, I think it is an absolute joke (and I'm not even affected). To have to retake the whole subject if you have a bad day, and the fact that this will undoubtedly put people off of taking extra subjects (they call Classical Greek rare now!) due to the pressure. Furthermore, the irony is that the grade boundaries will probably not be changed by that much!

    I would suggest at least letting a person retake one of the modules once out of the four or whatever. But this is only my opinion.
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    I do all of them, all linear I think. I finish my GCSE's this years.
    It is so stupid and i feel so sorry for the years below me. At the moment they are so stressful, I have such a bad memory i forget things within 2 minutes and so find it hard to learn.
    Also some of my teachers are rubbish!
    I have 14 exams and study leave starts end of next week... my first exam next thursday. <- JOKE
    We do the whole thing and then our teachers will go through and see what is most likely to come up in the test.
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    i don't think GCSE's are too easy, even though they don't stretch the minds of the brightest pupils they still do test everyone else, It would be unfair to make it the exams all linear as like the person above said everyone has bad days and what happens if they cannot retake the exam, it would put way to much stress on the pupil. Instead they should reduce the amount of modules and limit the amount of times a person can retake an exam. I was reading that the main problem is that GCSE's don't stretch the minds of the brightest, i think they should offer more courses like FSMQ additional maths that are harder than GCSE's but a bit easier than AS level for the brightest.
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    *prepare for rant*

    I'm in Year 10 at the moment and this year is the last year (at is planned) to be taking modular exams for most subjects. For options I take RS, History, Spanish and Italian.

    I am sick and tired of reading everywhere about how our exams are so easy and the grades aren't worth much. Everyday before school I see it in the paper, usually from adults who have never actually taken a GCSE exam in their life. It's demoralising to think we're doing all this work and revision, but most of it is taken to be easy.

    I don't like GCSEs, mind you. I find the structure of them very flawed. We're not encouraged to think creatively and we're tested on everything constantly. All results are plugged into computers and analysed. I think schools are forced to be very exam-centric because of how much we're tested and how much grades are taken into account (whilst simultaneously being disregarded). Everyone assumes that intelligence is relative to exam marks.

    I can't account for Geography but I know that I'm supposed to be a 'highly achieving' student and I struggle with the other three subjects that are going to be 'made harder.' I think that exam difficulty varies widely over the different exam boards and that it's impossible for people to be making generalisations about entire GCSE syllabuses. History especially is very complicated at GCSE, I find, and we're taking it linearly anyway. Our first exam is June 2013, where we must remember everything about Liberal Reforms 1906-1914, League of Nations, Treaty of Versailles, and Weimar Germany.

    I prefer the method of modular exams but I can see how some people would think it was easy, to take it in segments and be able to retake it. However, I don't think modular exams should be scrapped entirely. Instead of the current submersion of exams all year round, I think there should be fewer but longer modules. This gives sufficient time to learn everything and for there to be an actual break between exams.
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    I don't see why linear exams are that bad. A lot of people still do well with linear exams. I did my GCSEs linear and now I do the IB (which is linear) it is annoying at times but people will adapt. They'll still do well.
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    I think i'd personally of much preferred to do linear exams but it all depends on your learning style.

    As for the exams being made harder, I disagree with it. the exams are difficult enough for the majority of students and changing the exams to match the ability of the more able students is unfair on just about everybody else.
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    My opinion may not be of interest as I am a teacher not a student but I a looking forward to this

    At the moment I am pushed into delivering exam focussed lessons all of the time in KS4 rather than just teaching my subject

    It would be so much better for my students if I could just teach, develop their understanding, adapt schemes of work to reflect the skills and abilities of the students in front of me, and then prepare them for exams at the end of the course


    As it is I teach some content ... just to pass an exam, test, revise, test, examine ... then start again ... I do not have the chance to link concepts or skills because, once the exam is done we "move on"

    It is not just about stretching the most able it is about enabling all students to learn rather than just practice exams
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    good thing i'm in year 11 lol
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    well mybe it will have an upside, if it means fewer people getting accepted into uni that aren't equipped to cope with it, wasting thousands of pounds and dropping out halfway through.
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    (Original post by TenOfThem)
    My opinion may not be of interest as I am a teacher not a student but I a looking forward to this

    At the moment I am pushed into delivering exam focussed lessons all of the time in KS4 rather than just teaching my subject

    It would be so much better for my students if I could just teach, develop their understanding, adapt schemes of work to reflect the skills and abilities of the students in front of me, and then prepare them for exams at the end of the course


    As it is I teach some content ... just to pass an exam, test, revise, test, examine ... then start again ... I do not have the chance to link concepts or skills because, once the exam is done we "move on"

    It is not just about stretching the most able it is about enabling all students to learn rather than just practice exams
    I do linear; I do think it is much easier sometimes like in RS and maths. In some subjects I prefer modular like science.

    I just want to say something. I was in the bottom set for maths and getting 22% on the tests, I was the highest in our group. We swapped teachers and our confidence increased so much! We did foundation maths edexcel and got 92/100 on cal and on non cal I got 96/100.
    Now I am doing higher and getting A's.

    I do think some teachers need reviewing, that quite a few pupils are capable but don't get the confidence and taught the stuff we need to.
    I am not saying that most of us are lazy, but let’s be honest, most GCSE students only learn facts, not why or how but facts and so find it hard at A levels.

    From a pupil in yr 11
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    Am I the only Year 11 student who thinks this might actually be a good thing? History, for example. Two year course, and all we have learned about his Hitler/World War II, World War I, America in 1920s and Vietnam. There are loads more topics, but we didn't get taught them, as you only get three questions in each exam. I love history, favourite lesson, and would like to go into more detail or do more subjects: same with Geography.

    I think English Literature is fine the way it is, but think that it is fine to increase the difficulty of the others if this is needed. I do find that in a lot of subjects, I would like to be "stretched" a lot more, and the lessons are far far too exam focused.

    On the other hand, Science is way too rushed, we are never going to even finish the course at this rate: maybe that's down to the way we were taught at the start, I don't know?

    Let me know if there's anything you want to ask in more detail about my opinion, cos trust me I can go into more detail if you want

    Do think that doing one final exam at the end of the course is unfair though, if it is in conjunction with making them harder; should do one method or the other!

    x
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    Im just finishing Y12 now, so it doesn't affect me, but I think this can a good thing. The jump from GCSE Maths and Physics to A-Level was huge, and I think making GCSEs more difficult could help reduce the gap
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    GCSE's shouldn't modular in either English or Maths. But with sciences if you want to cover the appropriate amount of content equally then modules are the right thing, just limit to 1 resit rather than an infinite number as it was when I did my GCSE's, life isn't all terminal and requires effort throughout. I am pissed off at Michael Gove telling me that my qualifications are worthless and that when he took them they were a million times harder, it is simply that the grade boundaries are too low on some subjects and unlimited resits. I did a physics module in 2009 that 14/24 (58%) was an A*, obviously that was too low but some exams E.g Edexcel Chemistry 3 was disproportionally hard with 56/60 for an A* compared with the other Chemistry modules in the GCSE.

    Sorry for the rant.
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    I did linear for my GCSE maths. It was alright :|
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    Im in year 11 and i think it's a good idea. I would have loved to have learnt more in history because its my favourite subject. However for some other subjects like maths i don't think it should be made harder, i'm sure people on here who get like A*'s and 100% will disagree. So i'm kinda mixed on the opinion..
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    I've experienced both modular exams (GCSEs) and linear (IB) and I much prefer modular exams, as you're forced to work consistently hard throughout the course and not slack off with the intention of working really hard when it comes to exam time... an intention which, in my case, didn't get fulfilled :')
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    I only ever did Science modular, all the rest were linear.

    I guess it really does depend on whether the school you're at does the majority of subjects modular or not... my school only did science, so if I were in year 9 at the moment then I don't think it would have affected me that much.

    However, I think it's good prep for A levels though... some schools make you sit all the exams at the end.
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    Well it does sound like a step in the right direction to me. Certainly it sounds like a good idea to make the exams linear. Life is about performing well at given points in time, and not about being given as many chances as you need until you fluke a good performance. There is no real reason for people to truly flunk an exam that will not be taken into account by an exam board.

    The real advantage of a linear system is that it allows for more teaching time, and more material to be covered without the constant stress of imminent exams.

    An increase in difficulty is also overdue in my opinion. GCSEs don't in reality test skill in particular subjects, and as such it is perfectly possible with a little intelligence and hard work to gain As and A*s in nearly all exams. What people don't seem to realise is that they won't be adversely affected by increasing difficulty. It will be harder to gain A* grades yes, but you will still do as well as you would have in comparison to the general populous. The positive result of harder courses would hopefully be students being more prepared for their future life, whether it be academic or otherwise, by being better equipped with critical thinking skills.

    For those struggling with the content to such a degree as it becomes impossibly difficult, there should be some form of foundation tier offered, as there is now.

    So there, that's my opinion. And I'm not some adult who has never looked at a GCSE paper either, I took 'em last year.

    Oh, and regarding the simple question of whether the exams have become harder over time, just take a look at past paper O-level questions. I remember reading one opinion of someone who was in the first batch of GCSE students. He was saying how his class had been preparing using O-level past papers, and how everyone was astonished by how easy the new qualifications were!
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    I can't even recall what I did last year in Geography AS let alone how I got 94%

    Same goes for GCSE's. It's all regurgitation.

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