my take on the A level results Watch

chriswhit
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This should possibly go in the general section, save for the fact that I am writing with law and law admissions in particular. These views are purely personal and subjective reflections on the results and any implications they may or may not have.

I think the bottom line is that nobody wins when we reach a situation where nearly one in four candidates get A grades. Why?

The student: Feels under pressure to get the top grades and when they do, they are told that the exams are easy anyway. Thus, the hard work they had put in is not recognised. May feel they have to resit if they get anything less than an A or B, adding to pressures further

The universities: Struggle to differentiate between candidates as so many are predicted A's and B's [hence, I think the LNat and other things!]. Also have to spend longer on introductory things in many subjects so the content and standard of the degree can suffer too. Measures to try and lessen the problem such as introduction of UMS scores represent little more than hair splitting

A solution Make the exams harder! That way, A levels will once more have a reasonable distribution of grades and achievement can be properly rewarded and students geniunely differentiated. At the moment I wonder whether the right students are getting on the right courses at the right places. Faced with 20 students per place where all are predicted A grades, have good Personal Statements and references what is one to do?

BUT

In the present climate there is no way such a solution will be adopted, as we driven along by a government obsessed with stats and trying to 'spin' things so they look better!

THEREFORE I think if you are a student reading this, just ignore all such talk. You can only deal with whats put in front of you and enjoy thoughts of university!
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samba
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It's ridiculous. My sister has just done AS Levels and needs CCDDDD or summit next year to get straight A's.

I'm sure loads of people are the same. Must be impossible for the unis.

I'd suggest scrapping GCSE's probably, and going for a more american style system overall.
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Lewisy-boy
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you hold almost exactly my views (the first post guy!!), however I despise the american system so I cant agree with that!
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guccilittlepiggy
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I quite like the idea of the IB, which does seem to discriminate better and is also more difficult. I don't mean to offend anyone but A levels are easy to the point where they are becoming worthless. I know a chief examiner who thinks the same thing and is shocked by the standard of the papers they see.

But like you've said there isn't much chance of seeing change anytime soon.
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m1kes
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(Original post by chriswhit)
as we driven along by a government obsessed with stats and trying to 'spin' things so they look better!
Which as I am sure you are aware, isn't a new thing. All governments are likely to want to make exam results look higher to suggest that education is getting better - hence why exam results have gone 'up' for the last 26 years.

Other than the above, I agree with most of what your first post said
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Turdburger
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If its so easy to get AAA. Then we should just make the standard number of a levels people sit and the standard offer in terms of 4 or 5 grades.
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chriswhit
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I did a bit of number crunching on the UCAS website and came up with the following figures for last year (2005). What follows is a table for a number of universities which lists the number of applications made, offers given and (on a purely statistical basis) the offers made per application. This is a bit of an imperfect measure, as it doesn't show the average profile of applicant etc. Nonetheless, I think it gives some indication of the difficult decisions admissions tutors must face:

Institution Apps Offers App:Off

Birmingham 1835 235 8:1

Bristol 2493 176 14:1

Cambridge 1321 223 6:1

KCL 3555 245 15:1

Leeds 2445 266 9:1

LSE 2662 207 13:1

Manchester 3554 269 13:1

Newcastle 1120 176 6:1

Nottingham 3571 251 14:1

Sheffield 2356 418 6:1

Warwick 2476 149 17:1
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Happy1
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(Original post by chriswhit)
I did a bit of number crunching on the UCAS website and came up with the following figures for last year (2005). What follows is a table for a number of universities which lists the number of applications made, offers given and (on a purely statistical basis) the offers made per application. This is a bit of an imperfect measure, as it doesn't show the average profile of applicant etc. Nonetheless, I think it gives some indication of the difficult decisions admissions tutors must face:

Institution Apps Offers App:Off

Birmingham 1835 235 8:1

Bristol 2493 176 14:1

Cambridge 1321 223 6:1

KCL 3555 245 15:1

Leeds 2445 266 9:1

LSE 2662 207 13:1

Manchester 3554 269 13:1

Newcastle 1120 176 6:1

Nottingham 3571 251 14:1

Sheffield 2356 418 6:1

Warwick 2476 149 17:1
Grins as got offers from all those in bold

I can see how hard it is for the admissions tutors... however, i don;t like the way our achievements are devalued by the media, constantly making it sound like A levels are the easiest exams in the world. THey're not, by a long shot... but there is definitely scope to make them slightly harder, and to therefore deferentiate between the best and the "good" candidates.

It makes me wonder how many people were rejected from the better unis such as LSE, UCL, Bristol, Notts, etc but actually got better marks than hose who were accepted.
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Danny5876
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The good thing about A levels is the choice of subject one can pursue. Certainly I worked very hard to get my grades, spending hours on each subject a day.
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Lewisy-boy
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Thats another problem, law schools etc want to be able to find out who is capable of getting the top grades without having to work their but off... I can safely say that for a-levels i did hardly any work... ever, whereas this guy here just geeked it.
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superdillon
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(Original post by Lewis-HuStuJCR)
Thats another problem, law schools etc want to be able to find out who is capable of getting the top grades without having to work their but off... I can safely say that for a-levels i did hardly any work... ever, whereas this guy here just geeked it.
Well that can't be true. All Law schools aren't looking for gifted/robotic individuals, they are looking for talent but not in the way that you are describing it. Besides, how do you suppose they know an applicant who has achieved high grades without putting the work in? This isn't your termly report....there isn't an effort grade that goes next to the grade you achieved.
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Lewisy-boy
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Yea, but I always got top for effort anyway that crap means nought. I am saying that this is the purpose of the LNAT, since preparation is minimal and it relies mainly on talent my opinion is tha tit is designed to merely weed out those who geek it and get the same grades as those who are naturally gifted.
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superdillon
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(Original post by Lewis-HuStuJCR)
Yea, but I always got top for effort anyway that crap means nought. I am saying that this is the purpose of the LNAT, since preparation is minimal and it relies mainly on talent my opinion is tha tit is designed to merely weed out those who geek it and get the same grades as those who are naturally gifted.
What rubbish Lewisy-boy!
You didn't refer to the LNAT test at any point in this thread and its not what you meant!
Providing that they do well, the candidates that "geek it" and the candidates that are "naturally gifted" will achieve the same mark. The LNAT does absolutely nothing to distinguish between these two 'types' of candidates, nor should it. Remember there isn't a box that you have to tick on the front of the test that tells them whether you are a "geek" or "naturally gifted".
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chriswhit
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What are you two like The exchanges between you two are great!!
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Marcods
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There was actually a very interesting article in the Economist last week about the decline of A-Levels. An interesting point that was made, though, is that A-Levels used to be the gold standard of secondary education. That tells me that the A-Level system is fundamentally sound, but needs some serious reform to bring it back to where it was a few years ago.
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LawQueen
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I think we should bring in a new system where applicants are put through "special" tasks! :rolleyes:
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Lewisy-boy
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Its just that me and super hold almost vice versa views at everything!!

Personally I dont agree that you SHOULD be able to do aswell as ppl who are naturally good by just being a geek. But hey, Im gonna get cussed for that. And OK I didn't mean it, but I have inferred that in numerous topics where I have doubted the ability to prepare for LNAT... so my views are consistent.
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superdillon
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(Original post by Lewis-HuStuJCR)
Its just that me and super hold almost vice versa views at everything!!

Personally I dont agree that you SHOULD be able to do aswell as ppl who are naturally good by just being a geek. But hey, Im gonna get cussed for that. And OK I didn't mean it, but I have inferred that in numerous topics where I have doubted the ability to prepare for LNAT... so my views are consistent.
*hits Lewisy-boy over the head with a teapot*
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Lewisy-boy
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Lets agree to disagree on this, as clearly you just geek it for results .
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m1kes
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(Original post by Lewis-HuStuJCR)
Its just that me and super hold almost vice versa views at everything!!

Personally I dont agree that you SHOULD be able to do aswell as ppl who are naturally good by just being a geek.
NB: I am not sure I interpreted the above correct, so forgive me if the following is completely unrelated.

Sorry mate, but that is an absolutely ludicrous statement to make.
How on earth can you justify that a person who works extremely hard should not do as well as someone who is naturally gifted?
You are making an extreme social statement as well as an intelligence one.

Having the motivation to work hard is as much a skill as being intelligent.
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