Turn on thread page Beta

Pupils complaining about "Unfair" exam paper watch

    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by chelseafreak)
    well the solution is very simple then, the students should go and learn the material as they are meant to. the whole purpose of a level lessons is to give pupils a spring board to do their own reserch and learn independantly thus giving them a fighting chance at university. if the exam board inculde material the students don't know about then it is the students fault for not doing work outside of the classroom
    I've already explained this point in a previous post: The new specification should treat the students studying it exactly the same as the old specification treated theirs, it's not fair to suddenly expect students to up their independent learning. However, I think jennybean has worded it excellently:

    (Original post by Jennybean)
    I think it's a very thorny issue because while I respect your point that you're supposed to do your own reading around subjects taught in class, if I wanted to just read books I would have quit formal education and joined a good library.

    For me, the point of being in education is to be taught, and if that doesn't mean being spoonfed and actively assisted to learn the material, it should at least mean clearly pointing out what information should be committed to memory on the students' own time. Although this is only an A Level exam, I find myself sympathising with these students because of my own recent experience with my fourth year final exams at uni. The whole year found the exams incredibly unrepresentative of what we had been taught and what we had been asked to learn. The papers hardly covered what had been emphasised as important (both for exams and for being in practice) and went into huge amounts of detail on subjects that had been covered in ridiculous brevity, or in some cases things that had actually been emphasised as NOT being clinically important. As a result, an unprecedented third of our year has failed - thankfully not including me, although I see this more as a result of luck than anything else.

    Of course the college's response to complaints has been to say that it is our responsibility to further our learning independently, but when most of our days are spent in lectures from 9 til 5 (and most evenings and weekends spent subsequently writing up, understanding and committing to memory the material taught in college) I must question how much more reading we can possibly be expected to do, and furthermore what the point really is of having lecturers to teach us if the information they impart to us is not going to be respected when the exam papers are written.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    It doesn't seem fair to me that the textbook said 'You will not be tested on Spearman's Rank' and there was then a fairly significant question on it in the exam. Yes, maybe the exam board should test student's ability to think and not just regurgitate, but this would be better done asking them to apply knowledge they had rather than asking them a series of random questions about shrews.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by punkyrocker)
    The problem is that the majority of A level students do not do their own reading, and learn outside of the course - by including 80% unknown material in an exam paper, you're effectively failing half the country, and therefore making standardising marks very difficult - it's irresponsible of the exam board.
    I completely agree with this. Although outside reason can be helpful, that is because it gives you extra knowledge, and therefore extra marks. You shouldn't have to do extra reading to be able to answer more than one question.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    PS Helper
    Every one who has ever taken A Levels went through ******** exams!

    With the vague irrelevant questions from OCR, or the monstrosities AQA sometimes includes!

    But you dont see massive numbers of people moping about it, the exam boards will standardise the grade boundaries across all the candidates, so the problem of irrelevant vague questions goes away.

    (P.S - I sat the OCR Human Biology Legacy Exam on monday, and as OCR knew everyone taking it has already completed A2, they used this as an exuse to go all out on abuse, but i just had to take it)
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    You didnt sit the exam paper..

    its frustrating and anoying when specific parts are made clear that you dont need to know them, but in the exam they turn up. its nothing about individual reading.. you read up what your supposed to know according to the spec. i dont think its immature.. think the students have all the right to be angry about it.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    I wouldn't expect A-Level students to do extra reading if they don't want to, and it certainly isn't required of them. Anything which comes up on an exam is based on the subject specification.

    I think the last paragraph of the article sums it up quite well:

    (Original post by BBC News)
    This is the first time this exam specification has been taken, said the exam board spokeswoman.

    As such, "candidates are often uncertain about what will be required of them in examinations".

    "In order to support centres and candidates, we publish detailed specifications which set out the subject content and the assessment objectives which will be used to assess candidates' skills. We also publish specimen question papers and other support material and run national support meetings."
    Everything you'll ever need to pass A-Level exams is made available to you either for free, or for a very small price from some exam boards. Students are complaining that questions were not the same as those in specimen papers - so what? They can't spoon feed all the possible questions and answers before the exam, otherwise they'd just be assessing memory.

    Having looked at some of the questions on the Facebook Group, I agree that they're not easy questions, but they are perfectly valid, and from a stats point of view, I can see what to do on each one, and so I see no problem with them.

    We've got to make A-Levels harder, or at least more intellectually challenging; you can get through subjects like Maths just by memorising a collection of techniques and reading from the formula booklet.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    [QUOTE=Kytiane]
    (Original post by Subcutaneous)

    I was expecting questions on investigative and practical skills. What I wasn't expecting was for 70% or so of the paper to be on that and data analysis.

    And can I just make it clear that I'm personally not too bothered. I'm just going to resit in June. I'm just trying to balance the debate a bit.
    but thats the point. whats the point of an exam if exactly what you expect comes up?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    You're missing the point. There's a difference between being able to answer a range of questions that draw from the principles from what you've been taught and being given a completely unrelated set of questions to what you've been told to study by the specification.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    PS Helper
    (Original post by Kreuzuerk)
    You're missing the point. There's a difference between being able to answer a range of questions that draw from the principles from what you've been taught and being given a completely unrelated set of questions to what you've been told to study by the specification.

    Nope, its in the spec.

    However what they did was asked a question on a very vague spec point and combine it with a synoptic question.

    And with synoptic questions they can ask ANYTHING from AS as well.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    There seems to be so many different complaints about this exam it's hard to keep up! I can see 2 problems that may be justifiable:

    1) The textbook stating SRCC will not be examined. The old textbook used to say we wouldn't have to do SRCC, but we would have to know why it may be used and to be able to interpret results. If it did make a blanket 'No SRCC' statement then this is wrong and needs correcting.
    2) The people arguing that the best students will be hard to discriminate against as this paper is actually pretty simple.

    People saying 'zOMG shrews, wtf? I know nothing about shrews, when has Miss ever mentioned shrews?' are actually detracting from any reasonable argument as any information you need about shrews is given in the question. The answers require you to show knowledge of study design and to interpret results...

    I did AQA A-level ecology paper in 2006 and this is not significantly different to what we had to learn, in fact I would have been pretty happy with this paper. Whilst I appreciate the spec has changed from the bits I can pull out on this thread I too can justify every question on the paper with regards to the specification.

    If they still have a synoptic paper now you can be pretty sure that any topic that didn't come up here will feature on there instead and so all the hours of revision won't have been for nothing. It can also be said that as study design/interpretation of results features heavily here it should take a back seat in other papers, although if you do coursework (as I did) then obviously it will feature there.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by little_penguin)
    There seems to be so many different complaints about this exam it's hard to keep up! I can see 2 problems that may be justifiable:

    1) The textbook stating SRCC will not be examined. The old textbook used to say we wouldn't have to do SRCC, but we would have to know why it may be used and to be able to interpret results. If it did make a blanket 'No SRCC' statement then this is wrong and needs correcting.
    2) The people arguing that the best students will be hard to discriminate against as this paper is actually pretty simple.

    People saying 'zOMG shrews, wtf? I know nothing about shrews, when has Miss ever mentioned shrews?' are actually detracting from any reasonable argument as any information you need about shrews is given in the question. The answers require you to show knowledge of study design and to interpret results...

    I did AQA A-level ecology paper in 2006 and this is not significantly different to what we had to learn, in fact I would have been pretty happy with this paper. Whilst I appreciate the spec has changed from the bits I can pull out on this thread I too can justify every question on the paper with regards to the specification.

    If they still have a synoptic paper now you can be pretty sure that any topic that didn't come up here will feature on there instead and so all the hours of revision won't have been for nothing. It can also be said that as study design/interpretation of results features heavily here it should take a back seat in other papers, although if you do coursework (as I did) then obviously it will feature there.
    I see very little wrong with the paper. The complaints appear to be concerned with only two of the questions on the paper, or so I can see. One which introduces a new type of graph called a bubble graph, which students are then told how to interpret fairly easily, and with a questions which asks about the application of Spearman rank correlation test, which are both fine.

    1) The current textbook reads, "You will not be required to know tests on significance, such as Spearman rank correlation or the chi-squared test, for theory examination purposes. However, you will be required to select and apply such tests when analysing the results of experiments and investigations carried out as part of your ecological fieldwork."

    2) Evidently, a lot of people didn't do too well in this examination, and I think that the better candidates will be suitably separated from the less-able candidates. From the questions I've seen, I don't see anything wrong with them. They test knowledge and ability in the subject and in the use of statistical analysis well, but so many people are posting on the Group saying they still don't understand the questions. I think it's worked rather well?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I never saw the point of A – levels really.

    Students who are motivated just want to go on to further study and usually by sixteen most people have some idea of what their talents are, those who want to make money take places in industry, those neither motivated by further academic study or make a bit of cash go on social welfare, those who want to make cash but are not interested in working but want cash make babies.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by DarkWhite)
    I see very little wrong with the paper. The complaints appear to be concerned with only two of the questions on the paper, or so I can see. One which introduces a new type of graph called a bubble graph, which students are then told how to interpret fairly easily, and with a questions which asks about the application of Spearman rank correlation test, which are both fine.

    1) The current textbook reads, "You will not be required to know tests on significance, such as Spearman rank correlation or the chi-squared test, for theory examination purposes. However, you will be required to select and apply such tests when analysing the results of experiments and investigations carried out as part of your ecological fieldwork."

    2) Evidently, a lot of people didn't do too well in this examination, and I think that the better candidates will be suitably separated from the less-able candidates. From the questions I've seen, I don't see anything wrong with them. They test knowledge and ability in the subject and in the use of statistical analysis well, but so many people are posting on the Group saying they still don't understand the questions. I think it's worked rather well?
    The textbook is ambiguous there as it says you will not be required to know the actual tests but makes no mention of whether you have to be able to interpret them. As it appears as a topic in the textbook someone, somewhere should have picked up on it, asked their teacher who would refer to the spec and if there was any doubt within the spec, then directly ask the exam board. There was a problem in my OCR Chem textbook and one day our chemistry teacher read out a letter from OCR asking us to amend our textbooks.

    I made no mention of less able candidates - going on the reaction there will be 2 distinct groups of students, those that did very well and those that did very badly. My point was that those that did very well will include A*, A and B grade students and there may be no way of seperating them as they should all score very highly. Same for the lower end, some C grade students may end up with Es... Although all this remains to be seen and if it is an issue can only really become one on results day.

    I really don't see the fuss at all, A level blodge has always been like this -any student who has sat A-level Bio in the past 10 years would agree that it is Biology and it is relevant to spec. There are always sneaky questions but there are also always answers to these questions in the spec, the exam board commission couldn't approve them if not.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    Grade boundaries will definitely be low. When the new spec was introduced in 2001 the grade boundaries were really low then too and I mean up to 10 UMS lower than they usual are. Biology has always been like this anyway. Thats why you usually need around 65% raw marks for an A.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by little_penguin)
    The textbook is ambiguous there as it says you will not be required to know the actual tests but makes no mention of whether you have to be able to interpret them. As it appears as a topic in the textbook someone, somewhere should have picked up on it, asked their teacher who would refer to the spec and if there was any doubt within the spec, then directly askthe exam board. There was a problem in my OCR Chem textbook and one day our chemistry teacher read out a letter from OCR asking us to amend our textbooks.

    I made no mention of less able candidates - going on the reaction there will be 2 distinct groups of students, those that did very well and those that did very badly. My point was that those that did very well will include A*, A and B grade students and there may be no way of seperating them as they should all score very highly. Same for the lower end, some C grade students may end up with Es... Although all this remains to be seen and if it is an issue can only really become one on results day.

    I really don't see the fuss at all, A level blodge has always been like this -any student who has sat A-level Bio in the past 10 years would agree that it is Biology and it is relevant to spec. There are always sneaky questions but there are also always answers to these questions in the spec, the exam board commission couldn't approve them if not.
    Doesn't seem ambiguous at all to me. It says they don't need to know the tests but should know how to select and interpret their results.

    Yeah, I understand where you're coming from, but I'm saying that I don't see any reason why the most ale won't achieve an A*, the less able an A, the less able again a B and so on. If the exam was difficult, I'd expect more of a separation between A* and A grade candidates.

    Definitely. It's all based on the specification so I don't see the fuss.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SpamBa)
    It doesn't seem fair to me that the textbook said 'You will not be tested on Spearman's Rank' and there was then a fairly significant question on it in the exam.

    er no there wasn't...it was a question about the use of statistical tests in general and was only 2 marks
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Actually, reading again you're right and so people should know that SRCC interpretation may figure. It sounds like the same piece written in my old textbook...

    With regards to results it's going to be more difficult for the exam board as raw marks will show bimodal distribution and the UMS need to show a more normal distribution. It's up to AQA now though and all the students can do is sit and wait and retake if necessary. Although if an A* student only gets an A because of the paper then it will still be a high A in all likelihood and therefore not do any huge damage to their overall mark... This whole thing has been blown out of proportion, it may possibly be annoying but is really nothing new.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Meliae)
    I found the main problem was having to work out what those bubble graphs and such were about and read all the information for the questions as it was all unfamiliar. I didn't have time to read any of the shrew info or study the graphs so just had to guess. It was difficult to process it all under time pressure and try and work out what exactly they're looking for. Biology mark schemes tend to be unpredictable anyway in my experience. Still, I think when it comes to the actual marking, they seem to be a lot more flexible.

    If i'm correct, i remember i needed to have atleast a C in gcse maths to have done a science at my school, surely the a-level paper is assuming you have basic knowledge of data handling? You just need to use the information given to you about the graph and suggest a reason why a conclusion may have been made- it's not rocket science and nothing new to what you should have done in practicals
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Revolution is my Name)
    The point is, though, that the exam seems to have been on seemingly random topics, whilst much of the specification was ignored. So you can hardly go away and teach yourself something can you or do wider reading or whatever, if the exam board likes to just shove in random stuff for the hell of it that it's impossible to predict? And even if the exam did contain something they probably should have read about independently or whatever, then you open up a whole kettle of fish where you're effectively deciding students' grades randomly; one reads up on one topic, another on another topic, and hey ho, one of those non-specification topics comes up, the other doesn't. Is that really fairer? Whereas you can't go wrong if you just stick to specification and textbook, and expect everyone to learn that and test them on that.
    ...did you even do the exam?
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Kreuzuerk)
    You're missing the point. There's a difference between being able to answer a range of questions that draw from the principles from what you've been taught and being given a completely unrelated set of questions to what you've been told to study by the specification.

    ive not. if you look at the exam paper, then the specification, all questions are from the spec and are related to the a-level learning. I think the issue here is some students got confused and thrown off by the examples used, but the point of the questions was definately related to the spec
 
 
 
Turn on thread page Beta
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: January 27, 2010
The home of Results and Clearing

2,867

people online now

1,567,000

students helped last year
Poll
Do you want your parents to be with you when you collect your A-level results?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.