Grade distribution for A levels - Unfair?

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PandaPancake0
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Was looking at grade statistics for the 2019 A level batch, and some statistics struck me as quite odd. Why is it that some subjects are awarded a significantly greater proportion of A stars than others? How is this fair? You have subjects like RS (Edexcel) with 4.2 percent of people getting A stars and then Politics or Physics with 7 percent and 9 percent A stars respectively. It doesn't really even out over all the exam boards as well. Could someone please explain to me why this is so? And is there something I'm not understanding with this. I'm choosing my A levels soon, and should this impact my choice at all? Surely it would be advantageous to choose Physics instead of a subject like RS?
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Compost
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When grade boundaries are set Ofqual moderates the standard across different exam boards to try to ensure that the standard for a subject is the same for all boards.

When grade boundaries are set they also look back at the prior attainment at GCSE of the candidates - as an example, the average GCSE attainment of students studying Media Studies is lower than that of Further Mathematicians so it makes sense that a smaller % of the Media candidates get top grades at A level. Despite this, some subjects are consistently harder than others. The government tells schools (based on past data) what grade a candidate should do at different subjects given their GCSEs. A student with given ability will on average, do worse in some subjects than others because they are harder (even with the corrections I've already mentioned). Modern foreign languages and Sciences are relatively hard, as is History. RS and Politics are both easier than this.

That said, these are the average differences, interest in the subject, ability in specific areas and quality of teaching can all be more significant. Do what you're interested in as this is more likely to boost your grade.
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Emily_B
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(Original post by PandaPancake0)
I'm choosing my A levels soon, and should this impact my choice at all? Surely it would be advantageous to choose Physics instead of a subject like RS?
It's more advantageous to choose 1) subjects you're interested in 2) things that relate to what you want to do at uni. For example, humanities subjects at uni tend to prefer more humanities/essay based subjects at A level, so why take physics and chemistry over RS and geography unless you change your mind last minute? Also, you're less likely to get an A* at physics A level if you didn't do great at it at GCSE...
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PandaPancake0
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(Original post by Compost)
When grade boundaries are set Ofqual moderates the standard across different exam boards to try to ensure that the standard for a subject is the same for all boards.

When grade boundaries are set they also look back at the prior attainment at GCSE of the candidates - as an example, the average GCSE attainment of students studying Media Studies is lower than that of Further Mathematicians so it makes sense that a smaller % of the Media candidates get top grades at A level. Despite this, some subjects are consistently harder than others. The government tells schools (based on past data) what grade a candidate should do at different subjects given their GCSEs. A student with given ability will on average, do worse in some subjects than others because they are harder (even with the corrections I've already mentioned). Modern foreign languages and Sciences are relatively hard, as is History. RS and Politics are both easier than this.

That said, these are the average differences, interest in the subject, ability in specific areas and quality of teaching can all be more significant. Do what you're interested in as this is more likely to boost your grade.
Ah that makes sense. Very, very helpful answer, thanks a lot!
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