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Are A LEVELS Getting Easier ??? watch

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    As the A grader percentage increases yet again (suposeidley) and the number of pass grades do you think A levels are getting easier and what could be done to high light intelligent students.

    Having A Set Percentage (The top 20% form the A grade) ?
    The Introduction of A Star Grades ?
    The Introduction of Pass Merit or Distinction A Levels? ?
    Extension Papers?

    What would you suggest?
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    Maybe a bit, but not much.
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    I suggest make the papers harder by adding on extension papers.
    If it's graded so that only 20% get an A, the ppl who got the A don't necessarily have to be clever. Could have been a particularly stupid year group
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    I know a girl who is particularly hard working. She is not that clever at all, and literally lives in the library: From 7am until 4pm (obviously with lessons in-between). If you were to have an off topic conversation about nuclear power with her, she would not have a clue. However, if Nuclear Power was on the syllabus, she would have learnt all the arguments for and against in parrot like fashion.

    A-levels are undoubtedly deep in their content, but lack the breadth that we need in this day and age. This girl is extremely hard working, has achieved AAAA at AS, and will probably achieve AAA at A-level. But, what sets her apart from a very clever student with AAA? The answer is nothing, and so my friends, there is an inflation of A grades. What happens in inflation? The commodity becomes worthless. Unfortunatley, an "A" grade at AS/A2 does not have that "wow" factor.

    So, my answer in short is that A-levels per se are not getting easier, but its the way in which the A-levels are set. Too much on one topic, and not enough topics make exams easier to predict, leaving more room for "training", and not enough room for ingenuity. So people like this girl get straight A's as a result.
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    I think DemonDemonic's suggestions are sensible in the light of todays evidence of record A Level passes. The education system no longer distinguishes the difference between top-level candidates and mediocre ones.

    Personally, at the moment, I wouldn't want to go as far as saying that A Levels are easy until I get my results.
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    This is a very touchy subject for many of us in the build up to Thursday or what I like to call "make or break" day.

    Are exams getting easier? Probably, but this should not matter. The more important question to ask though is what effect will this have on the percentage getting high grades? Little to nothing.

    If the exams get easier then in theory the conversion from raw marks to UMS should compensate for this. Having said this people may retort that many people are getting high raw marks, so fails to distinguish between the top candidates. The truth of this however, in my opinion, is that the numbers of people actually achieving top marks is not growing at a fast enough rate, nor is the % of those getting A's high enough to justify such remarks. Many newspapers overblow said growths to write a story, to sell their papers, a growth of 0.5% in people getting A's is not nearly as eyecatching as EXAMS BEING DUMBED DOWN which catches the eye of all those who may not use the phrase IT WAS ALOT HARDER IN MY DAY but sure as hell would like to think it was...

    I couldn't care less whether they are or are not getting easier because has no one ever thought perhaps they were just too damn hard in the first place?
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    how should we know whether or not they are easier. we did not get a taste of A-levels 5,10,15 years ago.
    perhaps they are the same difficulty as always, but the students are getting brighter? or the education system has improved!
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    I vote NO because I believe it wasnt harder for the last 8/9 years (considering OCR Biology "new" syllabus), but considering the last 20 years, then YES it is easier today.
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    My suggestion is simple: Instead of using grades in Alevel...USE NUMBERS!!!
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    (Original post by Reloader)
    how should we know whether or not they are easier. we did not get a taste of A-levels 5,10,15 years ago.
    perhaps they are the same difficulty as always, but the students are getting brighter? or the education system has improved!
    I'm sorry but I do believe that exams are getting easier the amount of times I have had to use an old text book and the teacher says don’t do questions x,y and z as there not on the syllabus any more. As has been said they are narrowing the syllabus which has the result of knowing what you need to revise. Also just doing past papers from as little as 5 years ago I have found them to be harder and gets me worried about the real thing which turns out to a walk in the park (in relative terms)
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    Having A Set Percentage (The top 20% form the A grade) ?
    It doesn't ensure continuity in difficulty between years. Besides, they already use the mean mark to determine the raw to ums conversion.

    The Introduction of A Star Grades ?
    The exams will only get easier until more get A* grades. It also prevents the comparing of two candidates with A-Levels (one pre A*, one after).

    The Introduction of Pass Merit or Distinction A Levels? ?
    This will make seperation of candidates even harder.

    Extension Papers?
    This is an idea that is already effective but I'd hate to see them put in the back of A-Level papers; they should be seperate exams entirely. Also, making extension papers mainstream will mean students are taking yet more exams.

    I also disagree with using UMS as a final result. Would you really want your employer to favour someone with 560/600 over your 550/600 just because you were ill on the day of one of your examinations?

    What I think is needed is the complete scrapping of A-Levels and their replacement with a tough, new academic qualification system where it is almost impossible to achieve the top grade. While the specifications might only need a small rethink, the style of the papers and questions should be very different and much more challenging.
    I think that vocational subjects should be kept seperate from academic ones as it's ridiculous to compare them via similar examinations.
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    It's tough to say. I think allowing people to re-sit modules allows more people to gain the higher marks.

    My suggestion is simple - don't allow re-sit's of individual modules.

    Also using UMS marks is no good. Above 550/600 you are seeing who has been 'coached best' not necessarily who has the best knowledge.
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    I'm not sure the content is any easier, and I think students have a far higher burden of coursework and misc. crap enforced on them (general studies, crit thinking etc) than my generation (I did O levels / A levels in the 1980s), but I certainly think that the "process of taking A levels" is now a lot easier.

    By that, I mean the modular system in maths in particular, and the introduction of AS levels generally, has made it a lot easier to cram a few topics into a short period of time and regurgitate them word-perfect, rather than having to retain more of the course through understanding and practice, which the old system forced you to do.

    There are other, external, factors which have raised exam performance e.g. study guides - existed in my time, but now much more of an "industry", web sites / discussion boards (didn't exist in my day), ability to get hold of mark schemes / detailed scoring (no way when I was at school), increased societal pressure to do well in exams (when I did mine you were basically a geek if you did A levels), lack of other alternatives (apprenticeship schemes).

    I don't envy the workload imposed on young people now, but I do question whether having the A levels themselves provides significant benefit when so many people have them. A levels traditionally were a way of preparing the most talented people for Uni (let's face it, I've yet to find a JOB that makes use of A level skills), but I think there are now lots of people getting good grades at A level who are not equipped to handle Uni work.

    The system is failing in my opinion, but it is difficult to address because any potential solution introduces a new class of "failures" e.g. people who can't do AEAs, people who can't get A*s or A**s or A***s etc.
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    For God's sake, NO!!!!! These politicians and journalists who go on about how much easier A-levels are now have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. They haven't done A-levels recently, so how would they know if they're any easier? Exams now are different to exams in the past; not harder, not easier, just different. The pass rate and the numbers getting As are higher because students are working harder due to the increased importance of qualifications and teaching has improved.
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    The CIE papers are definatly getting easier, no doubt about it.
    Almost repeating whole questions?
    Actually following a pattern?
    Yes it is repetitive and easier compared to 5 years ago.
    Just look @ the # of A"s on their website stats.
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    No way!
    I'm sure they must try and make them harder every year. And whenever there's a major overhaul of the way people are examined, it becomes 10x harder because the teachers have no idea whats going on and neither do the students taking the exams.
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    It's tough to come to a conclusion on this, as it's a moving target. As the general level of education in the population increases, you'd expect attainment at A-Level to increase. There's also increases in standard of teaching (up until this year, no teaching qualification was needed to teach A-Level, and even now you can obtain it "on the job") - and the emphasis on "sharing good practice" tends to lead positive strategies being distributed more equally.

    A-Levels have changed a lot over the past twenty years; for instance, there's been a shift from norm to partial criterion referencing. Most importantly, the introduction of AS means that you're assessed as you go along - rather than doing a couple of high-stakes exams at the very end as it used to be (you were expected to recall everything from your two years of study). Furthermore, modular resits are a more realistic option now - and lower attainers don't tend to carry on to A2. All of these factors would results in an inevitable rise in attainment; but I don't think this necessarily means that A-Levels are easier - rather they are fairer and offer a more valid insight into ability.

    On a personal level, when I did my A-Levels (not that long ago!) there was a lot of emphasis on "retaining facts" rather than a genuine understanding of the subject - and this has shifted massively now. In terms of content, the modular nature of contemporary A-Levels means that they are broader (rather than narrower) than pre-2000 (although they are perhaps a bit too broad - sacrificing depth).
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    (Original post by Wayvelength)
    No way!
    I'm sure they must try and make them harder every year. And whenever there's a major overhaul of the way people are examined, it becomes 10x harder because the teachers have no idea whats going on and neither do the students taking the exams.
    There's a mechanism to ensure standardisation over time - hence the raw-mark, UMS-mark business. If a question is significantly more difficult than prior years, the mark boundary is shifted down to ensure fair grades are given. Similarly, if a paper is easier than prior years, the boundaries will be shifted up. Another reason why "A-Levels are getting easier" is a moving target.
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    This was explained to us by our head of school. A-levels are not easier; rather we are better prepared. We have access to past papers, the syllabus and have the ability to query our grade. We are also a lot more used to the exam system, being forced to take national level assessments from primary school ie SATS. This contrasts strongly with my parents stories of being taught history lessons which had no relevance to the exam because the teacher was bored.
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    (Original post by kellywood_5)
    For God's sake, NO!!!!! The pass rate and the numbers getting As are higher because students are working harder due to the increased importance of qualifications and teaching has improved.

    No, it's not. The pass rate is increasing because of the ability to retake modules as many times as you want.
 
 
 

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