Turn on thread page Beta
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    i think why alevels look so easy is because of the introduction of the AS level a few years ago, which resulted in ppl who performed poorly in the AS exams would drop the subject or otherwise may not be allowed to continue on at A2 which meant that more of the students taking a full a level in a subject were those who done well during the 1st year therefore likely to do well at A2

    a level pass rate

    2001: 89.6%
    2002: 94.3%
    2003: 95.4%
    2004: 96%

    AS levels were introduced in 2000 i think so the 2002 takers were the 1st to take AS levels so therefore likely to be those who must of performed well during their AS exams - look at the big jump in passes from 2001 to 2002!
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    i hate when journalists focus their attention at the negative side of things when they say A levels r gettin easier. they should be proud that a lot of pple r now going to uni instead of whining how things r getting easier.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    The reason why they are saying it though is because A levels are there to compare students wanting to go to uni. If everyone has A grades then you can't distinquish between those who are really bright, and those who have an A grade but aren't AS bright.

    They need to start challenging those who are really bright, so that they are the ones who come out with the top grades. They're saying they're getting easy because A grade isn't high enough. It's too easy to get an A grade because tow or three levels of ability can gain it, they either need a couple of grades above A grade or they need to make it harder to get one, this can then seperate the levels of ability. I think this is a general thing in most examinations, I think a 'distinction' and a 'merit' certificate should be available.

    Als, it concerns me how people who barely scape 5 c's at GCSE are accepted onto A level courses. They are not advised properly, they don't know about the other courses available to them. And they go into A level and either mess around or waste their time. But have to ask, why is A level even an option for these students? It should be out of the question, and if A levels were difficult then it would be.

    Basically, they're saying its easy because they set up the system to distinquish between student, and now everyone is getting good grades making it almost imposssible. They're concerned because the system is no longer working.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Breaking down the grades into A1,2,3 etc is not really a long term solution
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Maths has definitely become a lot easier. When I took Maths A Level three years ago, I had to do P1-3, M1, and S1-2. P1-3 has now become C1-4 - they've taken out an entire module, which is think is ridiculous. Maths A Level was easy enough then, it doesn't need to be made any more easy.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Lauren)
    Maths has definitely become a lot easier. When I took Maths A Level three years ago, I had to do P1-3, M1, and S1-2. P1-3 has now become C1-4 - they've taken out an entire module, which is think is ridiculous. Maths A Level was easy enough then, it doesn't need to be made any more easy.
    I agree with you, they are spreading out the same content over more modules which makes it easier for students to do well in the exams. I'm glad I done my alevel in maths before it got rebranded into C1-4 modules tho
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by soulsussed)
    The reason why they are saying it though is because A levels are there to compare students wanting to go to uni. If everyone has A grades then you can't distinquish between those who are really bright, and those who have an A grade but aren't AS bright.

    They need to start challenging those who are really bright, so that they are the ones who come out with the top grades. They're saying they're getting easy because A grade isn't high enough. It's too easy to get an A grade because tow or three levels of ability can gain it, they either need a couple of grades above A grade or they need to make it harder to get one, this can then seperate the levels of ability. I think this is a general thing in most examinations, I think a 'distinction' and a 'merit' certificate should be available.

    Als, it concerns me how people who barely scape 5 c's at GCSE are accepted onto A level courses. They are not advised properly, they don't know about the other courses available to them. And they go into A level and either mess around or waste their time. But have to ask, why is A level even an option for these students? It should be out of the question, and if A levels were difficult then it would be.

    Basically, they're saying its easy because they set up the system to distinquish between student, and now everyone is getting good grades making it almost imposssible. They're concerned because the system is no longer working.
    I think you're rather arrogant. You haven't even studied A-levels yet you claim to have sound knowledge of what they mean and how "easy" they are. I got the best GCSE results in my school last year, but I am certainly not finding A-levels easy. They have been a huge burden on my life this year and I'm going to be very lucky to pass a couple of my subjects. A grades are basically out of the equation already.
    Advanced Extension Awards have been introduced to give students a chance to show what they can really do, which I definitely support. I don't think there's that much need for improvement of the exam system. Considering the people who take up A-levels in the first place are of at least average ability, it's no wonder lots of people get straight As. By A-levels schools and colleges no longer have a legal obligation to enter pupils for exams, so if they think a pupil is failing they're unlikely to want to allow them to sit any papers. The able are weeded out from the academically poor way before exam papers are even sat.

    However, perhaps the education system is at fault. When someone like yourself who clearly has little grasp of the workings of the English language decides to sit English Literature (which, in case you were wondering, you do need to be able to write in), it's a sign of the times. You're probably predicted an A* or similar for English, and have never been told your English is appalling (don't worry, I had a Polish English teacher for GCSE who thought I was some literary genius). I can only hope the exam system at least weeds me out from you.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Lauren)
    Maths has definitely become a lot easier. When I took Maths A Level three years ago, I had to do P1-3, M1, and S1-2. P1-3 has now become C1-4 - they've taken out an entire module, which is think is ridiculous. Maths A Level was easy enough then, it doesn't need to be made any more easy.
    Absolutely agree.

    Its all over the papers today. How the can minister say that standards haven't dropped with a straight face, in spite of overwhelming evidence and vocal criticism from teachers and employers? It sickens me.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yelwalkietalkie)
    I think you're rather arrogant. You haven't even studied A-levels yet you claim to have sound knowledge of what they mean and how "easy" they are. I got the best GCSE results in my school last year, but I am certainly not finding A-levels easy. They have been a huge burden on my life this year and I'm going to be very lucky to pass a couple of my subjects. A grades are basically out of the equation already.
    Advanced Extension Awards have been introduced to give students a chance to show what they can really do, which I definitely support. I don't think there's that much need for improvement of the exam system. Considering the people who take up A-levels in the first place are of at least average ability, it's no wonder lots of people get straight As. By A-levels schools and colleges no longer have a legal obligation to enter pupils for exams, so if they think a pupil is failing they're unlikely to want to allow them to sit any papers. The able are weeded out from the academically poor way before exam papers are even sat.

    However, perhaps the education system is at fault. When someone like yourself who clearly has little grasp of the workings of the English language decides to sit English Literature (which, in case you were wondering, you do need to be able to write in), it's a sign of the times. You're probably predicted an A* or similar for English, and have never been told your English is appalling (don't worry, I had a Polish English teacher for GCSE who thought I was some literary genius). I can only hope the exam system at least weeds me out from you.
    Sorry, if I come across as arrogant, I never meant to. I was just giving my opinion of the system. I wasnt talking in presumption I was abe to achieve higher grades, for all you know I vould be the one in the 'not AS bright' catergory, which depends on what subjects you look at me for (terrible at maths).

    A levels are difficult, but is it difficult to achieve the grades thats my point. Just because you are suffering at A level doesn't mean that my post was arrogant because it contradicts what you are experiencing. I think you are arrogant to tell me I don't have the right to an opinion on the matter just because I haven't yet done A levels.

    People shouldn't be allowed to enter the courses at all, I have a couple of friends who sit foundation for everything at GCSE, struggle to et a C, and now are moving on to Alevels. I just think there are better options out there for them, but they can just cope with A level so they're let on the courses.

    Why do I have little grasp of how to use the english language? I don't make a huge effort to use correct spelling and punctuation in my post if thats what you are referring to. I never meant for this discussion to become personally either, which is what you have made it. I am predicted an A in both english's as you mention it, but hope to achieve an A* especially in lit, which is why I am taking it next year. I have been told my spelling is appauling. But, sorry, I fail to understand what all that has to do with anything.

    Maybe the exam system will weed us out to having different strengths indifferent areas, but my post was never suggesting that I was more superior to others, as clearly is your line of thought.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    Regardless of whether A-levels are getting easier or not, they do need to be made tougher to provide a better differential marker for university entrance. It 96% are passing and 22% are getting A's then how on earth are universities supposed to assess the academic ability of individuals using their A-level results?
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    Regardless of whether A-levels are getting easier or not, they do need to be made tougher to provide a better differential marker for university entrance. It 96% are passing and 22% are getting A's then how on earth are universities supposed to assess the academic ability of individuals using their A-level results?
    Quite. All they can do is interview the 22% getting A's which obviously isn't possible to do properly given the numbers involved. It seems unjust that folks that have no doubt worked hard to achieve their A grades then need to depend on their performance in a 10 minute interview with a professor that quite possibly didn't get his leg over the night before.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    The system is clearly in need of reform. If there are six possible grades, 30% of candidates should not be getting the highest grade. The obvious solution would be to introduce an A* but this wouldn't address the real issue - that it is possible to achieve top grades at A-Level through nothing but memorisation.

    The Legal Institute in Belfast (home of our version of BVC and LPC courses) provides a pretty good example of the problem with A-Levels. Entry to the Institute is based entirely on a fiercely competitive exam that tests analytical ability; marks are actually deducted for showing legal knowledge. The two main suppliers of candidates for the exam are Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster, the former requiring AAA to study Law and the latter requiring BBC. Which gets more students into the institute? If A-Levels really do prove academic ability, the answer should be Queen's. For years now, Ulster has taken more of the places at the institute than Queen's despite both universities having a similar number of law students.

    Students with weak A-Levels can outperform those with the best when faced with an exam that doesn't reward hammering information into your skull. This highlights the main weakness of the current exam system; not enough emphasis is placed on analysing information and too much is placed on memorising it. Standardised 'Did you remember this correctly?' exams are obviously the easiest form of testing to use on a national level but universities will suffer because of it.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alewhey)
    Of course A-levels are getting easier. Anyone who thinks that we are just getting smarter is just kidding themselves. Has anyone seen a paper from 20 years ago? Last year my school was teaching physics out of an old O-level textbook, and there were things in there that were way beyond what we were learning!

    I understand that lots of people on this forum worked very hard, and most will probably get A's for their effort. But this is exactly the point! It should not be possible to get the top grade at A-level by virtue of effort alone. A grades should be reserved for people who are both hard-working and very clever (and possibly the lazy genii), in my opinion. Without wanting to offend anyone, let me point out that the people who really deserve A's are exactly the people who would be upset that A levels are getting easier...

    As for having being tested from day 1 - this was introduced to make A-levels easier, not harder. Now you can cram for a few weeks, ace the exam, and forgeddaboutit. Screw up? Just try again. And again. And again...
    Having taken further maths, this was particuarly obvious to me. Three of the modules (P4-6) were pretty much unrelated so I got into the habit of learning one, doing the exam, and then forgetting the content whilst learning the next one. Compare that with learning them over the course of two years and then recalling them all together, in perhaps just two or three more intense and longer exams, and you can appreciate how much easier we have it. And come on - AS's are still a doss...

    What we must remember is that by making A-levels harder, there are no losers. The very best stand out from the crowd, instead of being lost in a sea of A's. The slightly less talented may start getting B's, but university offers will adjust accordingly so there is no problem here. A-levels start getting the respect they deserve again, so there would be no stigma for getting a B or any lower grade in any case.

    As a final point, I would like to add that either Oxford of Cambridge (I forget which) did some studies to find out which are the best indicators of success at university and found that GCSEs are far better predictors than A-levels, presumably because the sheer amount of them means you cannot get all A/A*s without being pretty smart, regardless of the hours you put in. When A-levels stop being predictors of university success, you know something has gone badly wrong.
    I agree with this. I realise that no-one wants to be told that the exam for which they've worked very hard is easier than it once was, but it is not possible for general standards to have improved so much so quickly - the significant year-on-year improvements must be down to other factors, too. Making the exams easier to pass is an obvious explanation.

    I don't envy universities - having to differentiate between hundreds of students achieving the same excellent grades doesn't make their job any easier. Adding distinctions in grading such as A* is only a temporary solution; what next, the A**?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Maybe A-Levels are getting easier,I wouldnt know, all I know is that I worked 2 months solid to achieve my A's, and I certainly didnt enter the exam hall without any preparation to come out with good grades.
    Statistics such as 96% passes and 22% A grades dont show the whole picture. Many schools inflate those figures artificially for league table purposes etc. In the first year, the weaker students are weeded out and they're not allowed to then go on to A-Levels, but are given other options such as retaking exams. In my school at least, all those with D's at AS level were advised to not continue and concentrate on AS for a second year. The college can then claim 100% pass rates for such and such subject.
    So if only stronger students are allowed to take the exam, obviously the pass rate will be higher, and they'll get more A's
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Manatee)
    I agree with this. I realise that no-one wants to be told that the exam for which they've worked very hard is easier than it once was, but it is not possible for general standards to have improved so much so quickly - the significant year-on-year improvements must be down to other factors, too. Making the exams easier to pass is an obvious explanation.

    I don't envy universities - having to differentiate between hundreds of students achieving the same excellent grades doesn't make their job any easier. Adding distinctions in grading such as A* is only a temporary solution; what next, the A**?
    Which brings us to the adage, "if it ain't broke don't fix it"

    Not that long ago one would be considered borderline genius with 2 B's and a C. I remember being in spellbound awe learning that a local farmer's son had achieved an A and two B's and was accepted into the RAF as a fighter pilot as a result. Those sorts of grades these days would just about get you on a foundation course in graphic design at Luton University!

    A couple of A's and a B then would have been enough to get you into Oxford. Now, 4 or 5 A*'s is not altogether uncommon and won't necessarily secure you a place.

    Why not simply return to the old marking system and if necessary make the A level harder and return it to it's former glory as the gold standard?
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Just as a little note, I'm working in a school on results day today, and the offers seem to be a lot higher than when I got my results. Surely this reflects the fact that more students are getting higher marks (which seems to be because of easier exams).
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Howard)
    Why not simply return to the old marking system and if necessary make the A level harder and return it to it's former glory as the gold standard?
    Because that would be seen as elitist and therefore politically incorrect. I think it's considered preferable to award high grades to increasing numbers of people and let the universities sort out the ensuing confusion. (Incidentally, I'm reminded here of the recent suggestion that "failure" should be redefined as "deferred success", presumably because we can't hurt people's feelings. The underlying result may not change, but it can be given a bit of cosmetic help .)
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    I'm quite glad they don't do this at university...with medicine for example. Absolute grades are necessary with that kind of subject. Why not others?
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Manatee)
    Because that would be seen as elitist and therefore politically incorrect. I think it's considered preferable to award high grades to increasing numbers of people and let the universities sort out the ensuing confusion. (Incidentally, I'm reminded here of the recent suggestion that "failure" should be redefined as "deferred success", presumably because we can't hurt people's feelings. The underlying result may not change, but it can be given a bit of cosmetic help .)
    Yes. We can't allow failure. There must be "prizes for all" :rolleyes:
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Not a Lawyer)
    The system is clearly in need of reform. If there are six possible grades, 30% of candidates should not be getting the highest grade. The obvious solution would be to introduce an A* but this wouldn't address the real issue - that it is possible to achieve top grades at A-Level through nothing but memorisation.

    Students with weak A-Levels can outperform those with the best when faced with an exam that doesn't reward hammering information into your skull. This highlights the main weakness of the current exam system; not enough emphasis is placed on analysing information and too much is placed on memorising it. Standardised 'Did you remember this correctly?' exams are obviously the easiest form of testing to use on a national level but universities will suffer because of it.
    When I was a visiting student at Oxford, my American friends and I used to call one of our history classes "Quiz Show." The lecturer would ask random factual questions that reflected nothing about your understanding of broader issues, then refuse to move on unless someone answered it. He would let 8 or 9 people attempt to answer the question until someone got it right. He once went through the entire map of Africa asking the dates of independence for each country, which took about 20 minutes. We could have been discussing something much more interesting and perhaps using our mental abilities to discuss and debate.

    British students definitely outperfom American students in learning memorizing every detail of a subject, and I think the A-levels test students in the same way they will be tested at the university level. However, as an employer I would be much less happy with that type of educational background because it doesn't teach quick or independent thinking.

    I have a lot of cousins in the UK, and the amount of stress that they faced doing their A-levels seems too great for a 17 year old as far as I am concerned. Even if the tests are getting easier, the experience of A-levels is not, from their experiences. I don't know that much about A-levels but on the basis of mental health for the students I think it should be reformed. Cumulative grading is a better indicator of someone's performance in school, because those kids who simply are amazing at studying for exams will have to consistently perform. And it is much less stressful!
 
 
 
Poll
Black Friday: Yay or Nay?
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.