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    I kind of have this thought in the back of my mind. It seems slightly pointless but here goes.
    In a conventional public examination, a normal distribution curve is used in grading. So, an a* is reserved for the top candidates, whilst the majority receive B's and C's. So it seems logical that not everyone can do good, because if everyone scored high marks, it would just mean higher grade boundaries. Thus can we assume that people who do well, do so at the expense of people who receive poorer grades?
    Surely not everyone can do well?

    (Original post by starwarsjedi123)
    Thus can we assume that people who do well, do so at the expense of people who receive poorer grades?
    Surely not everyone can do well?
    I wouldn't quite put it like that, but I suppose that it is true to some extent. The way things seem to work in most exams is that, if you do well, you do well. UMS conversions will shift things slightly one way or the other (grade boundaries) but something spectacular would have to happen (eg everyone who took the exam gets no less than 60 out of 75 raw marks) for it to really show. Otherwise you just get people that do indeed have a bad day or don't prepare enough or just the wrong questions come up, they get low marks and that's about it.

    Grade boundaries generally don't shift more than a mark or two year by year. They are, however, set so that (I believe) a certain percentage of students get each grade, as you said.

    It's confusing because normally we think about a D grade as being "you're bad at this subject" when actually it's more like "you're worse than most of the other people taking this subject" and an A* is like "you're a lot better than most other people taking this subject".

    A B grade at GCSE is so so, but a B in the same subject at A level is far harder to get, and means a lot more than a B at GCSE - students who get A*s in certain subjects at GCSE can still end up getting "just" a B at A level - because they're not testing how good you are at the subject alone, they're testing how much better or worse you are than everyone else - and at A level only people who are decent will take a subject, so the competition is higher.
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