Is falling A level standards accepatble? Watch

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MadNatSci
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#41
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#41
(Original post by Ben.S.)
I think the genetics at A level is severely lacking in detail - detail which probably was known and part of earlier undergraduate courses. I see your point though - trig must have been really advanced at some stage. On the other hand, calculus and logarithms used to be on the GCSE syllabus - now calculus is AS/A2 and logs are (or can be) A2.

Ben
My parents deny the existence of any calculus on their O level papers; but even if there were, what is the point of teaching calculus to kids at GCSE? If they're only doing GCSE maths they are not going to be doing anything in future that requires them to integrate or differentiate; so I would certainly argue here that common sense has moved calculus up to a higher level and replaced it with more useful stuff.
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Onearmedbandit
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#42
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If A-level standards are falling, then the logical thing to do would be to use more grades!
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Ben.S.
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#43
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(Original post by MadNatSci)
My parents deny the existence of any calculus on their O level papers; but even if there were, what is the point of teaching calculus to kids at GCSE? If they're only doing GCSE maths they are not going to be doing anything in future that requires them to integrate or differentiate...
...or apply sine and cosine rules or know what vectors are. The point is more that they should be able to do it, not that they are going to have to. Anyway, IA EMB students would have suffered slightly less if they had covered the basic calculus stuff at GCSE...

Ben
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MadNatSci
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#44
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(Original post by Ben.S.)
...or apply sine and cosine rules or know what vectors are. The point is more that they should be able to do it, not that they are going to have to. Anyway, IA EMB students would have suffered slightly less if they had covered the basic calculus stuff at GCSE...

Ben
True, but if you're going to do a science degree you'd normally take A level maths. And anyway everybody suffered, whatever their maths option was last year

I did vectors and trig at GCSE! :confused: And to be honest, very basic differentiation and integration isn't hard, it's just a new set of rules to learn; but they're very simple rules. I still don't think the omission of calculus in itself makes the exams easier. Although I DO think GCSEs are a lot easier than O levels!

Incidentally (and in full recognition of the fact that this is irrelevant) - what options are you taking next year?
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Ben.S.
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#45
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(Original post by MadNatSci)
True, but if you're going to do a science degree you'd normally take A level maths. And anyway everybody suffered, whatever their maths option was last year

I did vectors and trig at GCSE! :confused: And to be honest, very basic differentiation and integration isn't hard, it's just a new set of rules to learn; but they're very simple rules. I still don't think the omission of calculus in itself makes the exams easier. Although I DO think GCSEs are a lot easier than O levels!

Incidentally (and in full recognition of the fact that this is irrelevant) - what options are you taking next year?
Irrelevance duly noted: chemistry A + B and either MCB or maths, although MCB looks more likely. The only thing putting me off MCB is the fact that there are essays in the exams (can't time them properly - missed one out in the cells exam!).
What are you going to take?

Ben
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Ben.S.
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#46
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#46
(Original post by MadNatSci)
I did vectors and trig at GCSE!
I know, but were they any more useful than calculus would have been?

Ben
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MadNatSci
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#47
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#47
(Original post by Ben.S.)
Irrelevance duly noted: chemistry A + B and either MCB or maths, although MCB looks more likely. The only thing putting me off MCB is the fact that there are essays in the exams (can't time them properly - missed one out in the cells exam!).
What are you going to take?

Ben
Oooh scary chemistry!! Erm, pathology, neurobiology and either MCB or BMB, not quite sure which yet...

Trig can be handy in real life for calculating angles and things. Vectors are, admittedly, fairly useless rubbish (I've never been a fan of physics ) but they still have more obvious applications than calculus. When I started my GCSE maths course I was still at the stage of wanting to do an arts course; we moaned enough about the irrelevance of basic algebra, so if we'd been given calculus I expect the rebellion would have been more impressive... OK, maybe not. But I still don't think it's necessarily that bad to leave calculus out of the GCSE course. And I certainly don't think A level maths is easy; especially when we took it, the amount of work that needed to be covered was still huge. I know they've decreased the workload a bit now but I still don't think it's a walk in the park.
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ace_justncase
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#48
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#48
(Original post by Jonatan)
Firstly, people 20 years ago were not immensely more stupid than people these days (eaven though some here like to think that about their parents). Thus when universities have dramatically increased their demands on intake (Imperial has gone from requireing BB to AAB for Physics study as an example) and as the proportion of students achieving top scores has increased greatly, one must only conclude that the standrads have fallen. The question is if this is a problem. Should one try to expand the syllabus such that the level of the curriculum is equivalent to what it was 20 years ago, or is it more suitable to have a lower level on A levels, and instead move much of the syllabus up to graduate work?
I would go for the latter, my mum thinks it's a disgrace the falling standards, but i think the easier the better for our grades, and move it up to graduate work.
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Ben.S.
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#49
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(Original post by MadNatSci)
Oooh scary chemistry!! Erm, pathology, neurobiology and either MCB or BMB, not quite sure which yet...

Trig can be handy in real life for calculating angles and things. Vectors are, admittedly, fairly useless rubbish (I've never been a fan of physics ) but they still have more obvious applications than calculus. When I started my GCSE maths course I was still at the stage of wanting to do an arts course; we moaned enough about the irrelevance of basic algebra, so if we'd been given calculus I expect the rebellion would have been more impressive... OK, maybe not. But I still don't think it's necessarily that bad to leave calculus out of the GCSE course. And I certainly don't think A level maths is easy; especially when we took it, the amount of work that needed to be covered was still huge. I know they've decreased the workload a bit now but I still don't think it's a walk in the park.
I really want to do neurobiology, but can't since it clashes with one of the chems!!!

Ben
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MadNatSci
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#50
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#50
(Original post by Ben.S.)
I really want to do neurobiology, but can't since it clashes with one of the chems!!!

Ben
I'll lend you my notes if you're desperate!
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Kaos
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#51
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I don't believe that standards have fallen, we just have far better facilities nowadays.
I come from a working class background and I would naturally struggle to afford books. The internet offers me an amazing wealth of information from which I can revise, which has helped me to get my grades.
Added to this, we know have far better resources in the form of revision guides etc.

Saying that A levels are easier now is like saying that a minute is a shorter period of time because athletes are speeding up. Our tests aren't getting easier. We're getting better guidance for them.
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Ben.S.
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#52
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(Original post by Slartibartfast)
given that people are bound to be of the same average intelligence from year to year.
making A-level grades done in quotas would be good, so that it will not matter how easy the paper is, as long as people are sorted proportionally.

ie top 10% get A next 20% get B etc.
That would be problematic, as mark distributions are skewed when papers are easier or more difficult than normal - you could end up with grade boundaries (and widths) varying ridiculously from year to year.

Ben
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Kaos
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#53
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If we did things by percentages, then it would be better for determining the best applicants. Very few people get 5 100% scores, so it would help pick apart the applicants for university, even at the top level.
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Ben.S.
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#54
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#54
(Original post by Kaos)
If we did things by percentages, then it would be better for determining the best applicants. Very few people get 5 100% scores, so it would help pick apart the applicants for university, even at the top level.
I don't doubt that - I think UCAS should ask for UMS scores as well as grades (which Cambridge does as part of its application routine now, I think). However, there's only so much that numbers can tell you about the suitability of an applicant. Also, with the system you are suggesting, standardising exams and grade boundaries across all boards would become very complicated.

Ben
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london
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#55
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#55
(Original post by Jonatan)
Firstly, people 20 years ago were not immensely more stupid than people these days (eaven though some here like to think that about their parents). Thus when universities have dramatically increased their demands on intake (Imperial has gone from requireing BB to AAB for Physics study as an example) and as the proportion of students achieving top scores has increased greatly, one must only conclude that the standrads have fallen. The question is if this is a problem. Should one try to expand the syllabus such that the level of the curriculum is equivalent to what it was 20 years ago, or is it more suitable to have a lower level on A levels, and instead move much of the syllabus up to graduate work?
It is not just A-Levels it is also GCSE's. The old O-Level had CALCULUS and people took that exam at 16. Standards have definately fallen. They should just put all the Advanced Extension Award questions into the A-Level Papers that way everyone would do them.
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