Are A Levels Getting Too Advanced? Watch

OneUnitedWorld
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Advanced Levels, A Levels, were always meant to be challenging and tough, but so many people have been commenting that the content of the exam does not reflect that of the syllabus.

Simply look at this year's Edexcel Mathematics A Level examinations. Not only was paper 3 supposedly "leaked", but paper 1 and 2 stretched the syllabus to breaking point and beyond. I can't really comment about this as I've been sitting OCR (MEI) Mathematics, but I've seen the same said about multiple papers in multiple subjects.

So that prompted me to start the debate: is it just getting too advanced and too tricky for what we're taught?

A Levels are supposed to bridge the gap between university and Secondary School, teaching us in depth knowledge about subjects we are fascinated by and have chosen to sit. However, the 2019 set of examinations seemed to have been of a difficulty that has not been seen in past papers.

What do you all think? Personally, I found that my examinations have really pushed the limits on the curriculum, to the point where we were asked to calculate something that the curriculum said we wouldn't have to.

Please add below, I'm really interested to see what you all think!
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gydalf
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I don't really agree, apart from OCR B MEI Further mechanics major, **** that mess
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18DC18
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OCR MEI is too hard the rest idk
(Original post by OneUnitedWorld)
Advanced Levels, A Levels, were always meant to be challenging and tough, but so many people have been commenting that the content of the exam does not reflect that of the syllabus.

Simply look at this year's Edexcel Mathematics A Level examinations. Not only was paper 3 supposedly "leaked", but paper 1 and 2 stretched the syllabus to breaking point and beyond. I can't really comment about this as I've been sitting OCR (MEI) Mathematics, but I've seen the same said about multiple papers in multiple subjects.

So that prompted me to start the debate: is it just getting too advanced and too tricky for what we're taught?

A Levels are supposed to bridge the gap between university and Secondary School, teaching us in depth knowledge about subjects we are fascinated by and have chosen to sit. However, the 2019 set of examinations seemed to have been of a difficulty that has not been seen in past papers.

What do you all think? Personally, I found that my examinations have really pushed the limits on the curriculum, to the point where we were asked to calculate something that the curriculum said we wouldn't have to.

Please add below, I'm really interested to see what you all think!
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JohanGRK
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Someone hasn't done his Solomon papers...
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black1blade
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A levels used to be much harder with more detailed content that better prepared people for uni. I do agree though that from my experience with the new spec phys and chemistry, they seem to enjoy making the questions obtuse which I don't feel is the same thing as being advanced. Actually advancing the subject would be to add back in topics taken away that would better prepare people for further study in their subjects. Simple things like actually including the derivations for stuff in physics since I don't feel like you can understand a lot of topics in physics if you don't understand the derivation *cough* diffraction *cough*.
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OddOnes
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The main problem I had was that there was so much content to memorise yet only a small amount was in the actual exam. It could be something really obscure that could easily have been missed during revision or something completely irrelevant. I don't think it's fair and I think the system is set up for only a few with good memorisation to succeed. Most teenagers don't find this easy.
University is much fairer, if you put the effort in you will come out with a good grade.
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OddOnes
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(Original post by black1blade)
A levels used to be much harder with more detailed content that better prepared people for uni. I do agree though that from my experience with the new spec phys and chemistry, they seem to enjoy making the questions obtuse which I don't feel is the same thing as being advanced. Actually advancing the subject would be to add back in topics taken away that would better prepare people for further study in their subjects. Simple things like actually including the derivations for stuff in physics since I don't feel like you can understand a lot of topics in physics if you don't understand the derivation *cough* diffraction *cough*.
I disagree for other subjects, when I did A level English Language the papers from previous years were much easier to score higher grades on. They had easier texts to analyse and lower grade boundaries.
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black1blade
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(Original post by OddOnes)
I disagree for other subjects, when I did A level English Language the papers from previous years were much easier to score higher grades on. They had easier texts to analyse and lower grade boundaries.
I didn't mean recently, I meant in the 70s.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by OddOnes)
University is much fairer, if you put the effort in you will come out with a good grade.
That's only because everyone (more or less) gets a 2:1 these days, and that's treated as decent by pretty much everyone

Getting a high 2:1 or a First at a good uni is often a question of luck, particularly if you're doing an essay subject
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za1341
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I think the problem comes from the gap between GCSE to A-level. Most people aren't prepared for that transition, and spend most of year 12 trying to deal with the fact that they've dropped from an A* student to a D student. It's not impossible to do well in A-levels if you put in the hours and effort from the beginning, but it's hard when it feels like the exam boards are working against you.
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HydraFly
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I also found most students really got studying close to the end of year 12 (when UCAS predictions were being made), not using year 12 as effectively. This just makes year 13 more stressful than it should be... That's where the 'bridging the gap' between GCSE and A Level needs to happen - at the start of year 12, where students are forced to work harder.
(Original post by za1341)
I think the problem comes from the gap between GCSE to A-level. Most people aren't prepared for that transition, and spend most of year 12 trying to deal with the fact that they've dropped from an A* student to a D student. It's not impossible to do well in A-levels if you put in the hours and effort from the beginning, but it's hard when it feels like the exam boards are working against you.
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reira9
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I think that as an advancing species, we cannot have our education system to be of the same level of difficulty forever. As the world develops, technology becomes more and more evolved. We can now do things that we couldn't do 100 years ago, people would have never imagined that we could fly in the sky, or that we can literally do just about anything sat at home, from our computers. It is necessary to make our education system harder as time goes by, the younger generations should be capable of way more than what we were capable of doing. To us, this might be very difficult but these same syllabuses might be comparably easier for someone from the future of the same age, if you get what I mean.
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Tolgarda
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(Original post by OddOnes)
The main problem I had was that there was so much content to memorise yet only a small amount was in the actual exam. It could be something really obscure that could easily have been missed during revision or something completely irrelevant. I don't think it's fair and I think the system is set up for only a few with good memorisation to succeed. Most teenagers don't find this easy.
University is much fairer, if you put the effort in you will come out with a good grade.
This isn't about being 'fair' or 'unfair'. Isn't the job of those that write the questions for the exam is to do everything in their power to expose the holes in the students' knowledge, so that the highest achievers can be easily identified? It is good that A Levels do this.
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Royal Oak
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Basically it's not as easy to pass exams by memorising the mark scheme and regurgitating answers so exams have got 'harder'.
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Afterlife?
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Surely non of this even matters since the same proportion of people are getting each grade tier every year
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JVaughan1
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They’re not ‘harder’, per say, than they ever really were. They’re just changing. In all the reformed qualifications in Wales, for example, the WJEC are simply changing the APPLICATION of the content at both AS and A-Level. So, for example, in WJEC History AS, they now expect A2 style essays, which they never did before. I think people (including myself) struggle at times because at GCSE, you can do very little essay/question technique practice, and still get an A/A*. That was certainly my biggest takeaway fromAS, and I spent more time this year writing essays and criticising technique, which (at this point I think) made the exams slightly easier as it was a familiar scenario that I could just get on with. I guess what I’m trying to say in a nutshell is that exams aren’t harder. The (somewhat blissful) ignorance of application technique simply makes them appear so. People need to spend less time grinding over the same material, and give a bit more time to past papers and question technique. Of course, I’m a staunchly humanities-based student, so perhaps I’m wrong for maths and science. This is just my experience.
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OddOnes
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(Original post by Tolgarda)
This isn't about being 'fair' or 'unfair'. Isn't the job of those that write the questions for the exam is to do everything in their power to expose the holes in the students' knowledge, so that the highest achievers can be easily identified? It is good that A Levels do this.
And teenager's mental health is at an all time low because everything is set up to work against them. A levels are just the start of it.
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Tolgarda
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(Original post by OddOnes)
And teenager's mental health is at an all time low because everything is set up to work against them. A levels are just the start of it.
Mental health is at an all-time low because teenagers continue to procrastinate as exams get harder. Welcome to the real world. We need rigorous qualifications.

This is nothing. Honestly, if you really want a system that works against you, I suggest that you take a nice little trip to the Far East.
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RuneFreeze
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(Original post by black1blade)
A levels used to be much harder with more detailed content that better prepared people for uni. I do agree though that from my experience with the new spec phys and chemistry, they seem to enjoy making the questions obtuse which I don't feel is the same thing as being advanced. Actually advancing the subject would be to add back in topics taken away that would better prepare people for further study in their subjects. Simple things like actually including the derivations for stuff in physics since I don't feel like you can understand a lot of topics in physics if you don't understand the derivation *cough* diffraction *cough*.
Yeah I agree with this. I think the difficulty in a lot of papers isn't that the questions are hard per se, but they just make the questions really weird. For example, there wasn't actually any hard integration questions in any of the A level papers. As in, you never actually had to think for more than a second about how to do them. One was straightforward partial fractions and one was just using a substitution that they gave you!
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