Why do people get bad grades at GCSE/A level? Watch

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Pro Crastination
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#1
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Here's a controversial thread concept that just popped into my head. I'm not sure I agree with it myself, but, admittedly, the thought has arisen in my mind on a couple of occasions in the past. I hope the TSR community will be split on this.

Opening argument:

I can understand when people can't quite make the A/A* grade because of a silly mistake or two during an exam, and slip to a B/A because of it. However, what I can't understand is how people can be content with, or even proclaim they "aspire to reach" a C grade, as if that's some sort of huge achievement.

What I have found with my A levels and GCSEs is that to score an A or above requires a decent amount of effort (more so in some subjects than others), but it is not anything harder than would be expected on a regular basis during one's working life. Why, then, do a good proportion of people simply excuse themselves by claiming they're "just not that clever" and settle for mediocre grades by putting minimal amounts of effort in?

"But some people want to have a life!" I suppose this would be the immediate counter. I'm not arguing that everyone should be aiming for 95+ UMS and practicing to ace their Oxbridge interview as soon as they hit secondary school. All I'm saying is that the vast majority of people are capable of scoring in range of AAA-ABB at A level (one can easily lead a healthy social life with these aspirations) the willingness is simply not there, however. That is what I find so alien.

So yeah, who would agree with that? Who would disagree?
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HollyHamill
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I feel personally, that my teachers put a cap on what they thought I could achieve and that really did affect how well I thought I could do. They told me I was expected DDC, however I've so far achieved As and Bs in both my coursework and my practice papers. I'm not a massively negative person but I'm not full of confidence and therefore when teachers told me that was what I was capable of I accepted it.


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Amy is the best
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The vast majority of people become ensnared by other vices such as relationships, jobs and such and so 'revising' becomes the least of their priorities. Only those people who are truly devoted succeed or those people who's life is quite empty, for whatever reason, such that revision becomes the only reason for their existence.
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sandpitturtle
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I get what you mean, and think of this too sometimes, but there are some subjects that I can work really really hard for and still get a B maybe an A, also some people have dyslexia like my brother who worked extremely hard for his gcses nd got Cs and Ds and a B, which he was proud of so I think in the end its just a matter of doing your best and the grade you get it what your best is

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carehow
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I got bad A Level grades as I was ill throughout my A Levels. I then got an offer to study a foundation year from a russell group university and the grades I needed to get were low. My priorities became "survive and meet the requirements". The grades are an inconvenience, but I don't regret them. I think everybody has different reasons for getting the grades they do.
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Old_Simon
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Teachers have opted out of their responsibilities for years. They quickly project their own value judgements and expectations onto the pupil instead of asking how to improve the grades and move the kid upwards and forwards. Most D graders acquire that tag aged about 8 or less.
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Pro Crastination
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(Original post by HollyHamill)
I feel personally, that my teachers put a cap on what they thought I could achieve and that really did affect how well I thought I could do. They told me I was expected DDC, however I've so far achieved As and Bs in both my coursework and my practice papers. I'm not a massively negative person but I'm not full of confidence and therefore when teachers told me that was what I was capable of I accepted it.


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I really sympathize with your position. I don't think it's fair that teachers see a predicted grade and don't bother to consult with the student with regards the what the student wants out of their course. On so many occasions I've had people tell me that their coursework feedback was really positive, so they assume they'll be good for an A grade and make no alterations, then they get a C, for instance. I normally deduce that their teacher has seen them reach their predicted grade, lavishes them with praise, and moves on to the next person. It doesn't help in terms of providing grade mobility (I think I've just coined that term).

Most D graders acquire that tag aged about 8 or less.
It's a real shame, and I can't help but think it contributes to their concluding they just aren't very bright, so they have no reason to work hard in school. As much as my OP claimed that people use this as an 'excuse' (this is what I used to believe), I think now, people genuinely believe they are incapable. Their parents tell them, "oh, don't worry, you're obviously not an 'academic' person", their teachers praise them for barely passable grades... It's a horrible cycle.

I got bad A Level grades as I was ill throughout my A Levels. I then got an offer to study a foundation year from a russell group university and the grades I needed to get were low. My priorities became "survive and meet the requirements". The grades are an inconvenience, but I don't regret them. I think everybody has different reasons for getting the grades they do.
Examples such as these are wholly understandable, but I'd argue they apply to the minority, rather than the majority.
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bertstare
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Blaming teachers for poor GCSE performance is the saddest cop out argument you'll ever hear. A CGP textbook which is about 50 pages long is more than enough to get an A or A*, and I'm sure you don't need a teacher to read and memorise a CGP book
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underestimate
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Sometimes it could depend on encouragement and the "proposed" value of the subject, therefore the indovidual would be less encouraged to try hard and they wont succeed. This could mostly be said for GCSEs as some subjects arent classed as important enough by the schools and families so the person does badly.
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Pro Crastination
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(Original post by bertstare)
Blaming teachers for poor GCSE performance is the saddest cop out argument you'll ever hear. A CGP textbook which is about 50 pages long is more than enough to get an A or A*, and I'm sure you don't need a teacher to read and memorise a CGP book
I'd absolutely agree with you on the point about the A*/A grade by using CGP. I didn't learn a thing in my secondary school science lessons (I was at an overcrowded comp-turned-academy), I basically taught myself Biology/Chemistry/Physics by learning the CGP books inside out.

What I think a few were getting at were the expectations that teachers influence. If one is made to believe, from a young age, that they are not all that bright (because they got streamed into a lower set, for instance), then they'll probably take it as truth.
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Handles
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Perhaps their teaching has been poor? Many people won't understand topics unless they are outlined to them specifically by a teacher. That's actually the case for me, and it's why I've found YouTube channels like ExamSolutions and EconplusDal (and PajHolden, of course) so useful. They're far better than textbooks or the revision sessions that my Sixth Form puts on, which is to just go through past papers in Maths (no explanation of the topics, so no one turns up, but Maths teachers still get annoyed at us).

Like you say, though, I don't understand why people aim for anything lower than a C. I heard someone today saying, "I'm just aiming for a D so I can get back into Sixth Form next year." I think some people could do better at other establishments, like colleges or in apprenticeships, but such places often receive stick so their worthiness is lowered, and thus people feel they have to go to Sixth Form. There are over 400 people in my Sixth Form, and that's due to a mix of the school lowering grade requirements (some people got into Geography with a D at GCSE), adding extensions to the centre (two currently ongoing), and an increased range of subjects. And that all leads to class sizes getting far too big, so teachers can't focus on individual pupils as much as they once could.

Sorry, that sort of turned into a rant.
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MehdiB
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Because they don't put enough effort to revise


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WGR
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Typical TSR

Maybe not everybody is as academic as you?
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delicious one
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(Original post by Pro Crastination)
Here's a controversial thread concept that just popped into my head. I'm not sure I agree with it myself, but, admittedly, the thought has arisen in my mind on a couple of occasions in the past. I hope the TSR community will be split on this.

Opening argument:

I can understand when people can't quite make the A/A* grade because of a silly mistake or two during an exam, and slip to a B/A because of it. However, what I can't understand is how people can be content with, or even proclaim they "aspire to reach" a C grade, as if that's some sort of huge achievement.

What I have found with my A levels and GCSEs is that to score an A or above requires a decent amount of effort (more so in some subjects than others), but it is not anything harder than would be expected on a regular basis during one's working life. Why, then, do a good proportion of people simply excuse themselves by claiming they're "just not that clever" and settle for mediocre grades by putting minimal amounts of effort in?

"But some people want to have a life!" I suppose this would be the immediate counter. I'm not arguing that everyone should be aiming for 95+ UMS and practicing to ace their Oxbridge interview as soon as they hit secondary school. All I'm saying is that the vast majority of people are capable of scoring in range of AAA-ABB at A level (one can easily lead a healthy social life with these aspirations) the willingness is simply not there, however. That is what I find so alien.

So yeah, who would agree with that? Who would disagree?
Definitely agree. Not a huge amount of talent is really required for secondary school qualifications.
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MidnightDream
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You pretty much summed it up in your username :laugh:

I kid, I guess teaching is poor and it is harder to learn by yourself but not totally impossible. However the thing I've noticed is sometimes it's the amount of effort you put in. The majority of my friends have tutors but they don't revise, like at all, they could do so much better because they are so clever they just cannot be arsed until it's a tad too late. Maybe it's motivation thing
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delicious one
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(Original post by WGR)
Typical TSR

Maybe not everybody is as academic as you?
You don't even need to be academic - most literate human beings are capable of at least a B if they put in a little time.
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bertstare
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(Original post by Pro Crastination)
I'd absolutely agree with you on the point about the A*/A grade by using CGP. I didn't learn a thing in my secondary school science lessons (I was at an overcrowded comp-turned-academy), I basically taught myself Biology/Chemistry/Physics by learning the CGP books inside out.

What I think a few were getting at were the expectations that teachers influence. If one is made to believe, from a young age, that they are not all that bright (because they got streamed into a lower set, for instance), then they'll probably take it as truth.
I would hope no teacher genuinely tells a student that they "aren't that bright", especially like you said at a young age. I used to be a total div earlier on in school, and always used to be in lower sets (which is fair enough, no point hindering the better performing kids) but was never told that I should just accept that I would never do well lol

Apart from that though, I think the responsibility is almost entirely with the student. School level work is just not difficult at all, and everything can be self taught
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TNA123
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I only saw my GCSEs and A Levels as stepping stones, they've gotten me to my next step and that's all I needed them for. I didn't want my memories from 14-18 being clouded by tons of stress, you're only a kid
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aspirinpharmacist
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-Health problems
-Family problems
-Lack of confidence
-Crippling exam anxiety
-Bullying
-Countless other things that can affect how someone studies.

I know a lot of people at school who worked just as hard as I did for exams, if not harder and got lower grades than me, I liked school and for the most part I liked studying and stuff made sense to me. I wasn't one of the cool kids and doing well at school was pretty much what I based my self-worth on, which isn't healthy, but it was basically my reason for studying :lol: If you're constantly being told you're 'not that academic' it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, you don't believe you're capable of getting higher grades so you don't engage as much.

Edit: Relating to something another poster said, when I say health problems I'm including mental health problems. That stuff can totally knock you out.
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Northern Downpour
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They don't want to?
Some people have an idea of what they want their life to be like and perhaps getting top grades is not necessary for it? If you want to become a model, go into fashion and arts, who the hell cares about gcse physics?

Edit: Those question marks signify uncertainty, not indignation or sarcasm.
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