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A-level maths standards down on 1960s but not on 1990s watch

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    Just a reminder - Correlation does not imply causation.
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    (Original post by etjayne)
    Just a reminder - Correlation does not imply causation.
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    Physics organisations have been trying various things to get more students to do Physics. Whether it is dumbing down or not is not for me to say but looking at "Advancing Physics" by OCR, I see a drift away from technical skills to a subject that is more like Physics Studies. In other words, we have a course where you learn about Physics and what Physicists do in their line of work but you do not learn a great deal about how to actually do anything. The Syllabus has to assume only GCSE Maths, which creates a huge limit on what skills can be tested.

    Please indulge me whilst I have a short rant about something. (or go off and read something else)

    A personal bug bear of mine in A-Level Physics is the concept of an "Ohm Meter" which has led too many students (and electricians) to think that there is some kind of meter that you can put into a live circuit which will give a measure of resistance. I think the digital meter is responsible to some extent in that the device is too divorced from the underlying Physics. A moving coil meter (which can only measure current) puts the user in touch with what they are doing and they have to think a great deal about how to use a particular meter to achieve a measurement or something.
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    (Original post by nerak99)
    Physics organisations have been trying various things to get more students to do Physics. Whether it is dumbing down or not is not for me to say but looking at "Advancing Physics" by OCR, I see a drift away from technical skills to a subject that is more like Physics Studies. In other words, we have a course where you learn about Physics and what Physicists do in their line of work but you do not learn a great deal about how to actually do anything. The Syllabus has to assume only GCSE Maths, which creates a huge limit on what skills can be tested.
    Absolutely nailed it.

    I was looking at the GCSE and Physics A level these days and what you say is true. Full of descriptive material (wind farms, climate change, power generation - especially the GCSE) and a lack of nuts and bolts physics. Maybe this will change back to former times with the new linear spec. And the maths content comment is also spot on.
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    (Original post by zetamcfc)
    Yup, no calculus :eek: (From what I gathered from friends doing it)
    That's not particularly new though... afaict the calculus in A level physics was just as hidden under the bonnet when I did it (1987) as it is now... perhaps there's a good reason not to tread too much into maths territory.

    But looking at the specs and comparing with what I remember doing there's been a reduction in difficult classical stuff like thermodynamics and AC electrics and an increase in quantum stuff... but the quantum stuff that's come in is imo really quite easy material, more descriptive.
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    we are getting off maths a bit but the Physics A level these days is physicsology.
    Physics is applied mathematics and therefore you should not be allowed to take physics unless you take maths
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    (Original post by TeeEm)
    we are getting off maths a bit but the Physics A level these days is physicsology.
    Agreed.
    Physics is applied mathematics...
    It is at the levels being discussed here. But at much higher level there is more to it than that. Look at statistical inference where almost all the mathematics originally came out of physicists/astronomers not mathematicians - and is still doing today. Mathematicians have always had a poor to nonexistent understanding of the scientific method and inductive logic. Might explain the much higher incidence of the religious types in mathematics than the physical sciences.
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    (Original post by etjayne)
    Agreed.

    It is at the levels being discussed here. But at much higher level there is more to it than that. Look at statistical inference where almost all the mathematics originally came out of physicists/astronomers not mathematicians - and is still doing today. Mathematicians have always had a poor to nonexistent understanding of the scientific method and inductive logic. Might explain the much higher incidence of the religious types in mathematics than the physical sciences.
    :erm:
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    (Original post by Zacken)
    :erm:
    Why puzzled. Mathematicians have always been at odds with the use of inductive logic. Do you know what I am meaning here?
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    (Original post by etjayne)
    Why puzzled. Mathematicians have always been at odds with the use of inductive logic. Do you know what I am meaning here?
    Sorry; read that out of context, you're right.
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    (Original post by Zacken)
    Sorry; read that out of context, you're right.
    I know I am right. (LOL)

    Sometimes when you write such a thing down people immediately think of "proof by induction" and say, hold on, mathematicians know about that. Of course that is a deductive methodology.

    I am talking, of course, about inference, prior probabilities and the frequentist versus Bayesian debate.
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    STEP is getting harder though..
    look at step papers in the late 1980-s they are a joke - and you were allowed to use a calculator too. then look at 2014 and 2015 step 2 and step 3 papers. way harder lol.
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    (Original post by imsoanonymous123)
    STEP is getting harder though..
    look at step papers in the late 1980-s they are a joke - and you were allowed to use a calculator too. then look at 2014 and 2015 step 2 and step 3 papers. way harder lol.
    I cannot honestly comment on STEP as I have never actively been involved with it.
    Perhaps you are right
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    As an A level, it's supposed to be reasonably challenging yes but it also needs to be accessible. Not everyone studying Maths at A-Level will be doing something STEM related at university. It's designed in a way that non-mathematical oriented minds can also do well provided they put in a lot of hard work and time. I think the A-level does exactly this, and there are always a few tricky parts to questions in recent A level papers designed to differentiate between the A and the A* grade pupil.
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    I can easily believe that A-level maths is much easier now than 30 years ago, which makes sense, as university entry requirements have also risen. A B in A-level maths 30 years ago would have presumably got you into quite a good university to study maths. A B nowadays gets you into Nottingham Trent, which wasn't around 30 years ago (but if it was, it seems plausible that its entry requirement would have been an E).

    I imagine that the dumbing down of physics has been worse than that of maths: I can get top marks in physics without really feeling that I understand it, which shouldn't be the case.
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    (Original post by kprime2)
    It's designed in a way that non-mathematical oriented minds can also do well provided they put in a lot of hard work and time.
    The only reason why they are seen to have a "non mathematical oriented mind" is that they didn't put in the hard work and time in the first place...
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    (Original post by imsoanonymous123)
    The only reason why they are seen to have a "non mathematical oriented mind" is that they didn't put in the hard work and time in the first place...
    I disagree. I see having a mathematical oriented mind as a state of being. Some people excel in problem solving and thinking logically, while others are more creative minded and are geared to excel in the humanities or arts.

    As I'm sure you and many other users on this forum will agree, A level mathematics hardly focuses on rigorous problem solving. It is more mechanical and anyone can achieve an A* provided they put in enough practise. This is why many top universities use STEP/AEA/MAT to help identify those with actual mathematical ability.

    I think the A level is fine just as it is. In the recent years, I think exam boards are setting more challenging papers. The maths papers pre-2014 are considerably easier than some of the recent papers.
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    (Original post by kprime2)
    I disagree. I see having a mathematical oriented mind as a state of being. Some people excel in problem solving and thinking logically, while others are more creative minded and are geared to excel in the humanities or arts.

    As I'm sure you and many other users on this forum will agree, A level mathematics hardly focuses on rigorous problem solving. It is more mechanical and anyone can achieve an A* provided they put in enough practise. This is why many top universities use STEP/AEA/MAT to help identify those with actual mathematical ability.

    I think the A level is fine just as it is. In the recent years, I think exam boards are setting more challenging papers. The maths papers pre-2014 are considerably easier than some of the recent papers.
    nah anyone can get an S grade on a step paper if they put in the hard work over an extended period of time... like anybody that isnt born with a mental defect of some kind
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    (Original post by imsoanonymous123)
    nah anyone can get an S grade on a step paper if they put in the hard work over an extended period of time... like anybody that isnt born with a mental defect of some kind
    >complains about getting an S1 offer for ages
    >says anyone can get an S
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    i thought this too as well. I was shocked to see how low you needed to get an A* at GCSE. Why can't they just set it to 180/200 or 190/200 every year?
 
 
 
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