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Pupils complaining about "Unfair" exam paper watch

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    (Original post by Lit2010)
    They are. And pretty much everyone who sat the exam has made a little 'complaint'

    I think a levels should ask you to apply your knowledge- it's the only true indicator of understanding as opposed to someone memorising a text book. But how much prior knowledge of shrews and faunagoo are we expected to have? Sure, write a question involving shrews (don't drag it on for 6 pages, but hey...) and let us apply our knowledge of material we have been taught in order to answer the question. Imagine being given a question asking you to apply your knowledge of a subject and never having been taught that subject. It just won't work.
    what was the question about shrews asking you?
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    While I haven't looked at the AQA specification, I've just read the paper. Last year I did OCR Biology.

    There was a large emphasis on statistical analysis of results, yet the first question (on geese) looks quite typical. Second question on caterpillars you analyse a graph again and same for the third. Possibly a difficult question was 3b)i), where they ask how to find the average life expectancy of a population from the graph. I wasn't taught this with OCR last year, so that was the first real question that could have been difficult.

    Q4 - flowers in a wood, first parts on sampling, second on coppicing more on Spearman's rank. Yes, this question could be done by someone who studied GCSE Stats. Q5 - biochemical processes and apple slices has large biological content, similarly does Q6 with succession. Q7 looks like a Physics question I did with AQA last year :p: and again it's more common sense in the first part, before more knowledge on sampling, reliability and results. Then you analyse more graphs and talk about correlation now. Q8 is a series of 3 essays about ATP, energy in an ecosystem and intensive rearing of cattle vs productivity.

    So overall, I think that the paper was quite general, with 1, 5, 6 and 8 requiring knowledge from the course. There was a large element of statistical analysis in 2, 4 and 7 and Q3 was somewhere in between.

    That said I've just looked at the title of the module - Populations and Environment - and it's actually quite a narrow subject. Therefore we have ended up with a non-technical paper which does look like the synoptic paper from the old OCR course. However, now just reading the specimen paper given with it, there's not much difference between that and what was sat on Monday.
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    (Original post by letsdothetimewarpagain)
    No it wasn't, and it was specifically in the new AQA text book for this exam they would not need it, yet they were asked about it. Most people are upset they spent months learning stuff for none of it to come up except in 1/8th of the paper.
    get used to that at uni.

    (although i can take a point that in an A-level course and in one particular unit, one could expect most of it to come up).
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    (Original post by JAKstriked)
    Life isn't fair.
    I don't think the exam is unfair. It just seems sloppy and poorly considered. This means it won't provide the stratafication that is required at a-levels. The whole point of an exam is to divide people up. If everyone does poorly then it is harder to make these divisions.
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    (Original post by Jeester)
    My girlfriend studied her ass off for tat exam, literally sat there every night going over past papers and pouring over all the info she could find and she came out of that exam almost in tears, she usually comes out happy as she revises for months before exams and she's expecting three As.
    I havn't met a single person who found it managable.
    Aparantly they had no knowledge in it, and she learnt all these really complicated words and only needed it for 4 marks or something.
    Damn right they should complain.
    That's funny.
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    (Original post by TheTallOne)
    While I haven't looked at the AQA specification, I've just read the paper. Last year I did OCR Biology.

    There was a large emphasis on statistical analysis of results, yet the first question (on geese) looks quite typical. Second question on caterpillars you analyse a graph again and same for the third. Possibly a difficult question was 3b)i), where they ask how to find the average life expectancy of a population from the graph. I wasn't taught this with OCR last year, so that was the first real question that could have been difficult.

    Q4 - flowers in a wood, first parts on sampling, second on coppicing more on Spearman's rank. Yes, this question could be done by someone who studied GCSE Stats. Q5 - biochemical processes and apple slices has large biological content, similarly does Q6 with succession. Q7 looks like a Physics question I did with AQA last year :p: and again it's more common sense in the first part, before more knowledge on sampling, reliability and results. Then you analyse more graphs and talk about correlation now. Q8 is a series of 3 essays about ATP, energy in an ecosystem and intensive rearing of cattle vs productivity.

    So overall, I think that the paper was quite general, with 1, 5, 6 and 8 requiring knowledge from the course. There was a large element of statistical analysis in 2, 4 and 7 and Q3 was somewhere in between.

    That said I've just looked at the title of the module - Populations and Environment - and it's actually quite a narrow subject. Therefore we have ended up with a non-technical paper which does look like the synoptic paper from the old OCR course. However, now just reading the specimen paper given with it, there's not much difference between that and what was sat on Monday.

    Do you know where i can find the paper?
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    (Original post by danny111)
    did you check the date on the textbook and the date of the new curriculum?
    Look, please stop trying to catch us out. The textbook in question is the brand new textbook that was rewritten specifically for the new curriculum. Our teachers didn't like teaching from it as it was written in such a rush, it arrived a few weeks late at our school. So yes. We know the textbook was for the exam yesterday.
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    my sister did the exam and didn't find it hard at all - she said all of it was "basic knowledge that anyone who is taking A-Level biology ought to know anyway...I don't get what the fuss is about"
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    (Original post by TheTallOne)
    "This is the first year this exam specification has been taken and the AQA board says this can cause uncertainty about what should be studied."

    The same stuff probably happened when the A Level change in 2000 took place. Just that in the past decade the use of technology has widened access to past papers (and less be honest, it's much easier when you have 16 past papers to go through compared to an unreliable specimen). This change will bump grades down for a year or two but it will return once people know what examiners want.
    Oh how nonchalant! It's okay for you, who's already done your A- Levels and in uni, but it's not okay for those thousands of 18 year olds who arn't going to make it to their uni of choice becase of a "bump [down of] grades."
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    (Original post by Subcutaneous)
    Do you know where i can find the paper?
    http://hotfile.com/dl/25760353/b52e505/BIOL4.doc.html
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    (Original post by TheTallOne)
    While I haven't looked at the AQA specification, I've just read the paper. Last year I did OCR Biology.

    There was a large emphasis on statistical analysis of results, yet the first question (on geese) looks quite typical. Second question on caterpillars you analyse a graph again and same for the third. Possibly a difficult question was 3b)i), where they ask how to find the average life expectancy of a population from the graph. I wasn't taught this with OCR last year, so that was the first real question that could have been difficult.

    Q4 - flowers in a wood, first parts on sampling, second on coppicing more on Spearman's rank. Yes, this question could be done by someone who studied GCSE Stats. Q5 - biochemical processes and apple slices has large biological content, similarly does Q6 with succession. Q7 looks like a Physics question I did with AQA last year :p: and again it's more common sense in the first part, before more knowledge on sampling, reliability and results. Then you analyse more graphs and talk about correlation now. Q8 is a series of 3 essays about ATP, energy in an ecosystem and intensive rearing of cattle vs productivity.

    So overall, I think that the paper was quite general, with 1, 5, 6 and 8 requiring knowledge from the course. There was a large element of statistical analysis in 2, 4 and 7 and Q3 was somewhere in between.

    That said I've just looked at the title of the module - Populations and Environment - and it's actually quite a narrow subject. Therefore we have ended up with a non-technical paper which does look like the synoptic paper from the old OCR course. However, now just reading the specimen paper given with it, there's not much difference between that and what was sat on Monday.
    so your saying the complaints are unjustly at this scale?
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    (Original post by DeeDub)
    I don't think the exam is unfair. It just seems sloppy and poorly considered.
    meh... the AS was much the same; a high proportion of 'how science works'. I can't believe people didn't see this coming to some extent. I would agree that there is some failing on the examiner's part but it's nowhere as near as catastrophic as it seems to have been made.
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    i'll have a look, and also compare this tothe module spec, see what i think :beard:
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    (Original post by innerhollow)
    I don't know about the specifics of the exam paper in question, but this is definitely the most accurate examination of the subject of independant learning.

    It's something that should be promoted, and something that should give you somewhat of an advantage in exams. However, independant learning should not be anywhere near the focus of the exam, and thus questions in a completely unfamiliar context should not really dominate the exam paper. In my opinion problem-solving questions are really what test the skill of a candidate, rather than questions on an unrelated topic that the candidate may or may not have read up on.

    Did anyone here actually do the paper by the way? Because your input would be very helpful.
    Always nice to be agreed with. :yy:

    I'd definitely agree that some of the best examination techniques are problem-solving, as you say, or the application of known techniques to less familiar situations - tests of understanding rather than just of the ability to memorise information.

    There's a thread over in the Biology Exams forum (clicky) where more of the specifics of the paper are being discussed by people who actually sat it.
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    (Original post by JAKstriked)
    That's funny.
    So's your face.
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    (Original post by Jeester)
    Oh how nonchalant! It's okay for you, who's already done your A- Levels and in uni, but it's not okay for those thousands of 18 year olds who arn't going to make it to their uni of choice becase of a "bump [down of] grades."
    Well surely everyone will get these bumped down grades so it can't be that much of a disadvantage. The universities can't reject everyone.
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    In some of my classes


    "Is this on the exam board?"
    "No... it's just good for your extra know-"
    - class stops writing and stares blankly. -


    it's quite sad really
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    (Original post by Kytiane)
    Look, please stop trying to catch us out. The textbook in question is the brand new textbook that was rewritten specifically for the new curriculum. Our teachers didn't like teaching from it as it was written in such a rush, it arrived a few weeks late at our school. So yes. We know the textbook was for the exam yesterday.
    im sorry, i obviously didn read on that ppl had already asked this.
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    The exam paper is online... the spec is online... why don't people go compare them themselves.

    Personally, I do think it was unfair (as a university finalist who never took biology mind). Example though is some friends on mech eng at uni.... they know that their professor likes to challenge them... to know that they know the theory and how to apply it rather than just re using methods already gave. So no two questions are even remotely similar. They all worked hard and from the sound of it will get really good marks to reflect that. Alternatively, in one of their other modules, the tutor was a complete arse... telling them it would be mostly maths when it was mostly words. So they focused on the maths, and while studying the wordy side, didn't give it full attention.

    There's the key difference though.... first tutor guy made it very transparent that thinking/application was required. Now obviously its ridiculous to have to tell someone to "think" or apply knowledge differently.... but you don't teach a course as if its going to be one way when its another. The second tutor intentionally misled... they would have been better with no information.

    If this unit of the exam was about challenging the students, then the intentions should be clear. While testing intelligence, application and thinking abilities of students is good... its not what these types of a levels are about. If it wanted to test that, we'd get everyone to sit IQ & comprehension type tests, and leave it at that. Or if they want a radical change from the "hard work to learn stuff" format... give warning.

    Besides... Biology has always been about remembering.... you can't exactly write an essay on the names of the organs or bones etc.
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    Perhaps these guys should sit the IB Maths HL 2009 Paper 2 exam.
 
 
 
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