AS Levels should be compulsory (maths specifically) Watch

Notnek
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(From my experience with new spec maths)

A lot of schools do not offer AS Levels. So the predicted grades that go to universites will be based on school exams as well as the teacher's opinion. It seems that a large percentage of schools who aren't offering AS Levels are still giving students offical AS Level papers - either the actual exam or a specimen/mock paper. Two big problems with this:

- These papers are being shared online. Locked exams are often given to students by their teachers which is fine but then these students may distribute the exams to students in other schools. So a student could easily cheat their way to an A grade and this is what universities will see. For example on TSR, you have an unofficial mark scheme for the AS papers but some schools are going to use these papers as end of year exams!

- Schools are setting their own grade boundaries. Since grade boundaries don't exist for the new spec, often schools are setting boundaries which are similar to the old (easier) exam papers. So you have students who would have got an A in old paper, now getting a C. Hopefully the predicted grades won't be entirely based on this but I bet some schools will just send these grades. There was a similar problem over the last few years for the new spec GCSE but at least these grades weren't important.

I've heard people on TSR say, "well schools shouldn't be setting these exams then or using old boundaries". But the point is that schools do and this isn't going to change any time soon.

My solution : make AS exams comulsory but keep them separate to A Level exams so the only way to progress to A Level would be to pass AS Level exams. Most students not doing AS Level exams officially are being set AS Level exams by their school anyway so it wouldn't change much.

What do others think? Is this not as big a problem as I'm making it out to be? Should AS Levels be compulsory?
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04MR17
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We've discussed this in the Model House of Commons recently.

I see most educational reform as disruptive. And reversal of any recent reform will seem counter-intuitive and is thus pretty unrealistic.

AS exams do serve a purpose. The problem with exams in general is if you're not feeling tip top that day, then that's going to affect you're chances just because that's your only shot at it realistically (nobody wants to resit).

To make AS exams compulsory means everyone graduates with 1.5 A Levels. Including completing an A Level course in 1 year (when it's a 2 year course). This is fine for a subject like Maths which is 100% exams and almost all content will overlap. However, a subject like English Literature where different texts need to be studied for AS compared to A Level would be disastrous to force students to take both.
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Notnek
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(Original post by 04MR17)
We've discussed this in the Model House of Commons recently.

I see most educational reform as disruptive. And reversal of any recent reform will seem counter-intuitive and is thus pretty unrealistic.

AS exams do serve a purpose. The problem with exams in general is if you're not feeling tip top that day, then that's going to affect you're chances just because that's your only shot at it realistically (nobody wants to resit).

To make AS exams compulsory means everyone graduates with 1.5 A Levels. Including completing an A Level course in 1 year (when it's a 2 year course). This is fine for a subject like Maths which is 100% exams and almost all content will overlap. However, a subject like English Literature where different texts need to be studied for AS compared to A Level would be disastrous to force students to take both.
I probably should have restricted the conversation to maths but I thought I'd propose it for all subjects and see how the discussion went. It sounds like it wouldn't be plausible for a subject like English.

But for maths, AS content is half of A Level content so the only thing that has changed in the new system is that students don't have compulsory exams for the first half of the content. This is causing problems that I have mentioned above.

I see most educational reform as disruptive. And reversal of any recent reform will seem counter-intuitive and is thus pretty unrealistic.
It wouldn't be a reversal - it would be an adjustment to the current system and it would be pretty minor adjustment for maths so wouldn't be disruptive.

As with most educational debate, this is completely theoretical because it's very unlikely that anything will change and making AS maths compulsory and other AS Levels not compulsory is even less likely to happen. My post was a plea for something to happen to fix the problems (with a clickbait title ).
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04MR17
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(Original post by Notnek)
I probably should have restricted the conversation to maths but I thought I'd propose it for all subjects and see how the discussion went. It sounds like it wouldn't be plausible for a subject like English.

But for maths, AS content is half of A Level content so the only thing that has changed in the new system is that students don't have compulsory exams for the first half of the content. This is causing problems that I have mentioned above.

It wouldn't be a reversal - it would be an adjustment to the current system and it would be pretty minor adjustment for maths so wouldn't be disruptive.

As with most educational debate, this is completely theoretical because it's very unlikely that anything will change and making AS maths compulsory and other AS Levels not compulsory is even less likely to happen. My post was a plea for something to happen to fix the problems (with a clickbait title ).
If you change one A Level it's only fair you change them all.* Therefore no change for maths.

*except General Studies apparently, which is still modular

U and ur clickbait :shakecane:
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Notnek
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(Original post by 04MR17)
If you change one A Level it's only fair you change them all.* Therefore no change for maths.

*except General Studies apparently, which is still modular

U and ur clickbait :shakecane:
No maths is special and deserves to be treated differently. Fight me.
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_gcx
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To be fair, schools would probably rather get the AS papers free off the maths emporium than pay like £54 per student for exam entries. Though I do agree with the issue of grade boundaries, I hope that schools will adjust the marks in light of the actual grade boundaries. I'll reply to the rest in a bit.
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SuperHuman98
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I agree also the pressure of external exams is good practice
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Notnek
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(Original post by _gcx)
To be fair, schools would probably rather get the AS papers free off the maths emporium than pay like £54 per student for exam entries.
Yes it's silly that schools can still give students the AS papers for free and many schools are choosing this option for cost reasons. If AS maths was made compulsory, the cost would need to be reduced or be included as part of the A Level cost.
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winterscoming
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Personally I wouldn't make A/S level maths mandatory, instead I would change the curriculum of GCSE maths to bring in a lot of A/S material on applied mathematics - particularly statistics and probability. Personally I think these subjects are essential for understanding things which are happening in everyday life - whether it's about enabling people to read through the statistical analysis presented by, the media, or whether it's about understanding how to manage their finances, or being able to understand basic concepts like inflation, risk, economic growth, etc. It would also ensure more time at GCSE level is spent teaching critical thinking and analytical skills.

Not that I have a problem with pure mathematics, but when there's a choice between spending time teaching subjects like Calculus which most people aren't going to use in their later life, compared with teaching applied maths which is relevant to everybody, I'd choose the latter.
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Doones
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Unfortunately this ship has sailed...
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Notnek
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Unfortunately this ship has sailed...
Okay solution 2 : don’t release the AS or mock AS papers to teachers to force more schools to enter students for AS exams.
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Doones
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(Original post by Notnek)
Okay solution 2 : don’t release the AS or mock AS papers to teachers to force more schools to enter students for AS exams.
It's a budget issue afaik. State schools have no incentive (or money) to get Y12 students to sit the AS now so they don't offer it.

I think I read that AS exam uptake is down over 60% this year.

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_gcx
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(Original post by Notnek)
Okay solution 2 : don’t release the AS or mock AS papers to teachers to force more schools to enter students for AS exams.
Also, I think I said this in the other thread, schools probably appreciate the flexibility of not having AS exams anymore. I don't really see why A-levels needed to be reformed to be linear. I don't see why they couldn't have just re-jigged the modules to make them harder.
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Black Water
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(Original post by _gcx)
Also, I think I said this in the other thread, schools probably appreciate the flexibility of not having AS exams anymore. I don't really see why A-levels needed to be reformed to be linear. I don't see why they couldn't have just re-jigged the modules to make them harder.
I agree, I don’t see the point of making it linear now. The old specification worked perfectly fine, now they’ve just changed it for no reason.
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CountBrandenburg
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I should probably jump on here since 04MR17 has mentioned the MHoC , and I was in charge of education.
Notnek as someone doing the new a level for maths I wouldn’t exactly say the AS is half the content or half the difficulty. Think of the new year 1 stuff as the foundation and the skills learnt from that seem to be by and large applied to the year 2 stuff. I personally have no problem with schools doing internal exams and setting their own boundaries, a competent school will know roughly what their cohort should be achieving and thus set the boundaries adequately. Yes I’m not a fan of schools’ over predicting for a level subjects, but in a case like maths in particular I see no real reason to need to sit the AS in it ( I’d argue that the current maths stuff is too soft anyway!)
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Black Water)
I agree, I don’t see the point of making it linear now. The old specification worked perfectly fine, now they’ve just changed it for no reason.
I guess it's probably because a lot of people in government have spent the past 15+ years arguing that the new A/S level system is "too easy" and that "A-levels were harder back in the day" - unfortunately, those people finally won power so they've been successful in reverting the A-Level system back to how it used to be in the 'good ol days'.
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Black Water
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(Original post by winterscoming)
I guess it's probably because a lot of people in the government have spent the past 15+ years arguing that the new A/S level system is "too easy" and that "A-levels were harder back in the day" - unfortunately, those people finally won power so they've been successful in reverting the A-Level system back to how it used to be in the 'good ol days'.
No wonder a lot of people hate A-Levels nowadays. In the old specifications students weren’t hating it as much as now. I guess everything is easy nowadays for everyone. GCSE’s, A-Levels they’ll be doing the same thing in a few years time with the same reason of it being easy.
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username3766884
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My school makes all AS levels mandatory to progress onto second year (you have to get Ds or above or else you have to change your subjects or leave the school.)

Personally I think this is incredibly unfair compared to many other schools as my predicted grades are going to be so much lower than what I’m actually capable of simply because it’s difficult to put effort into exams that you know mean very little. Instead they should base your predicted grades off your module test scores throughout the year and your achievements at GCSE. For example, I was predicted I think 5As and 4Bs at GCSE but I actually achieved 7A*s and 3As. If universities were using my predicted grades to give me offers they would think that I was far less capable than I actually am and I probably wouldn’t receive the same ones.
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Black Water
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(Original post by megan.louiseeee)
My school makes all AS levels mandatory to progress onto second year (you have to get Ds or above or else you have to change your subjects or leave the school.)

Personally I think this is incredibly unfair compared to many other schools as my predicted grades are going to be so much lower than what I’m actually capable of simply because it’s difficult to put effort into exams that you know mean very little. Instead they should base your predicted grades off your module test scores throughout the year and your achievements at GCSE. For example, I was predicted I think 5As and 4Bs at GCSE but I actually achieved 7A*s and 3As. If universities were using my predicted grades to give me offers they would think that I was far less capable than I actually am and I probably wouldn’t receive the same ones.
If you got 7A*’s and 3A’s at GCSE’s this would give you very good AS predictions. If you can then do well in AS Levels then you’ll be predicted A/A*’s for A-Level. Are you talking about potentially maybe not doing as well in AS?
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username3766884
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(Original post by Black Water)
If you got 7A*’s and 3A’s at GCSE’s this would give you very good AS predictions. If you can then do well in AS Levels then you’ll be predicted A/A*’s for A-Level. Are you talking about potentially maybe not doing as well in AS?
My current predictions are AAAA but they’re almost definitely gonna go down as I know I’ve messed up my AS exams. Will probably end up with ABB as my predicted grades unfortunately x
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