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    With all of the education reform plans being spouted off left right and centre in the last year or so, my attitude has been largely "it won't affect me, so..." and "why can't they make their minds up about this?" and "are these people even qualified to be doing this?"* just but recently I've been wondering something else.

    Why are they messing around with when exams are instead of dealing with a very real problem? Changing exam dates isn't going to do much about the so called problem of grade inflation, if anything it will make it worse - there is a very good reason (other than increased revision time) why people tend to do better when they retake AS material at A2, and that reason is largely due to the increased amount of context A2 gives AS (except in subjects like history where I believe the AS and A2 content are completely different, but don't quote me on that as I don't take history). So putting everything at the end of A2 will likely work to make the problem of grade inflation worse. But what about the exam boards themselves?

    The exam boards set the questions, set the grade boundaries and set the curriculum. Sometimes they do a good job of this. Sometimes they do a pretty bad job of this. I, in revising for my June exams, have been doing quite a few exam papers - I'm actually in the middle of one right now (timing has thusly gone out of the window) - and I think it's a bad thing when I find two mistakes in two days.

    In the June 2011 F324 Chemistry paper (OCR): In the mark scheme, in the section for question 5)b) it says this: "54.2/118 x 100 = 64/63.96". 54.2/118 x 100 actually equals somewhere around 45.9. While 63.96 is the answer you're looking for, the correct way of doing it is 118/100 x 54.2.
    Yes, it's fairly nitpicky, but I'm sure these get checked before they're used, and you don't even need a calculator to realise that 54.2/118 x 100 is NOT 63.96. This paper has also been out for a good year and a half now... has no-one honestly noticed this?

    Less nitpicky, today's error is in the June 2012 Unit 2 Biology paper (AQA). The mark-scheme says: "Allow more crops/many harvests. Ignore references to yield". I would consider - and google does too - "yield" and "crop" to be the same thing. Even worse, the examiners report states this: "The commonest mistake was to write about profit in terms of more plants rather than the faster rate of growth", but if the mark scheme allows answers stating there are "more crops", it's hardly a mistake is it?

    I'm very aware mistakes are rare, and that I've run into two in so short an amount of time is probably coincidental. But I'm sure that if I were actually looking for these mistakes - and trust me, I'm not, I am genuinely just accidentally running across them - I'd find quite a few more.

    My point stands though that less time needs to be wasted moving exam times around, and more time needs to be spent on scrutiny of the exam boards themselves. If exams/courses are getting easier, it is not the fault of students. It is the fault of exam boards. These mistakes too, are the fault of exam boards.

    I've not even mentioned "exam technique" yet. Or money.

    Rant over for now, I think I'm going to head back to my revision.

    - - -

    *I say this because the UK cabinet is reshuffled all the time and I find it hard to believe that all the people in the cabinet have the knowledge required for everything they may at any point be asked to do. In the US, the cabinet is non-legislative yet made up of experts in said fields (the cabinet is also never really reshuffled, more replaced), yet the seeming opposite occurs here. Michael Gove, while being Education Secretary, seemingly has no qualifications to do with education**, apart from having been through the education system himself... back in 1971/2 to 1988.

    ** No, I have no delusions for even a second that I'm more or even as qualified, but I don't have the power to legislate so that doesn't really matter.
 
 
 
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