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So, are A-Levels really getting easier? watch

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    ahhhhhhh
    finish this useless debate...Alevels are worth nothing thats true...the real challenge which proves ur something is people like paul jefferys...won 2 gold medals in International Maths Olympiad...by the way im gettin my results tomorrow but its not gonna make me happy if i get 5 As its not a big achievement... :mad:
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    (Original post by Llamas)
    There's already a wealth of information in A-Level results that the universities currently don't have access to, namely indivudal module UMS marks. Currently an A could be anything from 80%-100%. Making A-Levels harder still wouldn't help the fact that an 'A' would still cover a wide range of ability in the high end. We also have AEA's and Step papers. There's no reason to expect A-Levels to be a perfect catch all discriminator of ability. Most people who take A-Levels won't even get one A, and probably have little sympathy for Oxbridge admissions tutors deciding between straight A students.
    Universities should have more information yes, but you also need to make the papers harder. Whether that is done in the A-Level itself, or by making AEA's part of the conditional offer, either would work.

    The problem with just handing over more information, is the randomness of your individual performance on the day, is larger than what they are discriminating on. If you stretched the top end further, then such statistical "wobble" would not have so much bearing on your overall result, as you would have the ability to show greater knowledge.

    If we simply had, say addition under heavy time pressure for Maths, then to be outstanding you need to achieve 100% or very close, yet the occasional slip is inevitable. If you have to outline your mathematical thinking behind a detailed proof, there is a greater chance to shine.

    (Original post by Llamas)
    Giving the top 10% of students an A etc was an awful idea when they did it and is an awful idea now. What that means is that you're no longer enforcing any kind of standard at all, just saying you are relatively better than others in your year. That makes an A-Level's value volatile from year to year and makes it even more difficult for universities to figure out how smart people really are. If one year has a large number of able students it wouldn't be difficult to forsee B's being given out to those who might have gotten an A the year before, or perhaps the next year.
    In my opinion that is actually the benefit of such a system. By removing the links over the years, you cannot be compared with anyone other than your peers. In employment people who differ from you greatly in age, are likely to have vastly different experience anyway. When it comes to university applications, you are competing with your peers.

    (Original post by Llamas)
    Many people might not "need" a degree for whatever job they end up in. but it's indubitable that they will be better at that job because of it, and it helps keep their options open in the future. An over qualified workforce will be more flexible and innovative. If an employer is looking at someone with A grade A-Levels then chances are they're looking at the university they went to and not the A-Levels.
    If you are over-qualified, then it costs. The government could set compulsory schooling till you are 21. It would result in a vastly better educated workforce, who are likely to be flexible and innovative as you said. It would also be astronomically costly, and drive taxes up, and kill off business. After all, if you have been studying the finer points of quantum theory, who wants to then turn around and become a brickie.
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    (Original post by dave134)
    Universities should have more information yes, but you also need to make the papers harder. Whether that is done in the A-Level itself, or by making AEA's part of the conditional offer, either would work.

    The problem with just handing over more information, is the randomness of your individual performance on the day, is larger than what they are discriminating on. If you stretched the top end further, then such statistical "wobble" would not have so much bearing on your overall result, as you would have the ability to show greater knowledge.

    If we simply had, say addition under heavy time pressure for Maths, then to be outstanding you need to achieve 100% or very close, yet the occasional slip is inevitable. If you have to outline your mathematical thinking behind a detailed proof, there is a greater chance to shine.

    In my opinion that is actually the benefit of such a system. By removing the links over the years, you cannot be compared with anyone other than your peers. In employment people who differ from you greatly in age, are likely to have vastly different experience anyway. When it comes to university applications, you are competing with your peers.

    If you are over-qualified, then it costs. The government could set compulsory schooling till you are 21. It would result in a vastly better educated workforce, who are likely to be flexible and innovative as you said. It would also be astronomically costly, and drive taxes up, and kill off business. After all, if you have been studying the finer points of quantum theory, who wants to then turn around and become a brickie.
    It's up to the universities how finely they would discriminate on a marks based offer. A university could however, just stipulate that they required you to get A's in all of your modules, instead of just overall. I'm sure universities are well aware of the problems with accuracy when you're comparing students on the basis of a couple of marks. Let them make that decision themselves.

    I'm not sure, but I think universities can already put AEA's and Step papers in offers.

    You can already compare peers using the existing system, and would be able to do so completely with complete mark information. Why should we revert to the old system for something we can already do?

    Yes, the government could set compulsory education up to 21. But that's not what I nor anyone else has suggested. I don't think we have a serious over qualification problem in Britain.
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    (Original post by Llamas)
    I'm not sure, but I think universities can already put AEA's and Step papers in offers.
    They certainly can. Cambridge definitely does and I think Oxford may as well; and Warwick asks for STEP papers in Maths.
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    Were Advanced Extension Awards or International Baccalaureates around 10 years ago?
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    (Original post by amylouise)
    People who claim that A-levels are too easy are dumb w*nks.

    It's not easy to get an A, it's just not impossible. If you work hard, & try your best, & reach your potential, it can happen. I got 2 A's at AS & I'm expecting at least 2 at A2, if not 3. I worked HARD, really HARD. It didn't come easy. It was a lot of work, and I refuse to let my A-levels be belittled by a discussion that is completely out-of-touch with the real world.
    Well it depends largely on the individual surely, I could list literally hundreds of people who found A-Levels too easy and not a challenge. Many can exceed the required 480/600 with less work than getting an A* in that subject at GCSE. When thousands every year do little work to get As it means that for many it's no longer a challenge. Obviously not saying that's the case for everyone.

    AEA / STEP is a very good idea in theory to differentiate between the best candidates, and are a good indicator of how good you are (you need to be damn intelligent to get a Merit/Distinction, not just memorise and regurgitate), but they need to be available to everyone; at present only a handful of schools offer them.
    (Original post by amylouise)
    I wish d*ck head politicians would keep their mouths shut & start complaining about something that they actually have half a clue about. The fact that these people influence the education system is sad.
    Perhaps "d*ck head politicians" are airing their concerns since an increasing glut of candidates with multiple A grades is making it impossible for leading universities and employers to differentiate between the good and the very good, with resultantly negative consequences for the economy, not to mention the concept of meritocracy (i.e. outstanding person who gets 95%+ in four subjects being deemed no different to a good candidate who scrapes 80% in the four).
    (Original post by amylouise)
    I don't know how people can diss A-levels. In America, the SATs are equivalent to A-levels, and they're multiple choice exams that anyone could pass.
    And the American papers are a much better indication of how good a candidate is than the memorise-and-regurgitate world of A-Levels.
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    (Original post by JamesH)
    Were Advanced Extension Awards or International Baccalaureates around 10 years ago?
    AEAs replaced Special Papers
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    (Original post by MadNatSci)
    They certainly can. Cambridge definitely does and I think Oxford may as well; and Warwick asks for STEP papers in Maths.
    They only make STEP papers in Maths now don't they?
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    (Original post by shiny)
    They only make STEP papers in Maths now don't they?
    Yep, but a lot of colleges ask for AEAs in other subjects now (just ask crana!)
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    Hmm...having read all the opinions of you guys I will just say one more thing.

    Whilst I don't think A-levels have got any easier, I can't deny that they are different.

    Here is one example;
    A History A-level twenty years ago would have been based on being able to regurgitate dates and facts as exactly that; facts. Now the A-level is far more focused on sources, debates within history, the opinions of various historians and the causes of events. It is no longer as desciptive as it once was.

    English A-level at one point would have focused a lot more on grammar, spelling and suchlike. Nowadays, it is far more to do with theme, symbolism and the comparison of texts.

    The nature of learning has changed from a way of looking at facts as facts and taking them for granted to a questioning nature - asking why things are as they are and comparing various aspects of the disciplines in a hope to ascertain links and parallels

    Also take into account that ability to drop subjects one is doing badly in at A/S, the greater independence and self-direcetion of young people (as others have said), the modular structure and capacity for retakes, a far higher standard of learning resources (with the acession of the internet and far more user-friendly libraries). I also would advise you not to underestimate the power of coursework in allowing students to suceed. In the "good old days" of A-levels, those academic people who weren't so strong in exams didn't have a chance to show what they could do. Nowadays coursework allows some of the pressure to be eased off. Finally, bear in mind that there is a far greater range of subjects available than there were "back in the day". This means that people take A-levels in subjects that actually interest them and that they will do well at.

    Right, that's my rant over.
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    (Original post by MadNatSci)
    Yep, but a lot of colleges ask for AEAs in other subjects now (just ask crana!)
    I don't know but AEAs/Special Papers were always less tough than STEP in my day?

    * daydreams about the good old days *
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    (Original post by shiny)
    I don't know but AEAs/Special Papers were always less tough than STEP in my day?

    * daydreams about the good old days *
    I couldn't compare.. I would never have touched STEP with a bargepole but that's cos it was maths, and I wouldn't have touched the Maths AEA with a bargepole either!
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    To be honest, the AEA past papers I did for French and Biology weren't that bad. True, my actual AEA papers were crap, but not impossible. I got distinctions on past papers...they weren't that different from the A-Level papers.

    If you're very good at maths, you can do further maths, but there's nothing really if you have an aptitude for languages. I'm good at Science, but better at French. Yet there's no such thing as 'further french' or 'further german' to push you harder.
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    (Original post by Wise One)
    the modular structure and capacity for retakes
    Do people agree that the ability to repeatedly resit papers until you get a good grade is just stupid and there should be a limit of 1 resit?
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    Only the best of the two most recent retakes counts, so there isn't really much of a problem then. Also, one would assume that there is an upper limit to the marks one can get depending on intelligence...? Maybe I am just being meritocratic.
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    (Original post by Llamas)
    . My friend who took Further Maths 5 years ago said that the stuff on the A-Level I took this year was harder than when he did it.
    Maths hasn't changed that much since 1998 really. I did mine around that time and almost everyone was doing the same modular syllabuses as we have now. I think I was one of a few people in the country at the time who was doing one of the older syllabuses which still had terminal exams etc which are now extinct
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    (Original post by Invisible)
    Yes, I agree.
    i agree too
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    (Original post by Jools)
    Do people agree that the ability to repeatedly resit papers until you get a good grade is just stupid and there should be a limit of 1 resit?
    Yes. I do not agree that A-Level papers are geting easier, but surely multiple resits is just ludicrous.
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    (Original post by Wise One)
    Also, one would assume that there is an upper limit to the marks one can get depending on intelligence...? Maybe I am just being meritocratic.
    What are you saying, that this is a good or bad thing? I'd say yes, you can't get over say 90% if you're not intelligent, but this is a good thing since intelligence should be one of the key things that A-Levels should measure (along with effort).
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    I was just saying that it wouldn't matter how many retakes one might take because you wouldn't be able to push your mark up ridiculously high unless you had a good reason for mucking it up first time round...so whether or not there's a limit on retakes shouldn't really make all that much difference.
 
 
 
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