# Do the exam boards set a quota for each grade in each A level subject?

Watch
This discussion is closed.
17 years ago
#1
For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of each
grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5% of
candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.

The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get

What do others think?
0
17 years ago
#2
"David" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
[q1]> For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q1]
[q1]> each grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5%[/q1]
[q1]> of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> What do others think?[/q1]

They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a 1st, you've just got to work for
it". Truth is only a certain often predictable proportion of candidates will get it.

G.Sharma.
0
17 years ago
#3
On Sun, 23 Jun 2002 1830 +0100, David <[email protected]> wrote:

[q1]>For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of each[/q1]
[q1]>grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5% of[/q1]
[q1]>candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]>The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]>What do others think?[/q1]

The boards are right; anyone who believes the quota idea is wrong.

Isn't it A Level Greek where there's a massive %age of As? Compare that to other subjects (I don't
know: Media Studies). If there's a quota system in place how on earth can there be such a
discrepancy?

Have you ever marked internal exams? It's amazing: the %age of candidates in those exams gaining
each grade is scarily similar to the final %ages in most case (given a representative ability
spread). Of course: I must be using the same quotas.

And then there's the comparisons done between cohorts by QCA et al. Of course, they must be
misleading us, just like the exam boards.

Trust me: there are no quotas, exams are just designed to differentiate effectively.

Ian
--
Ian, Cath & Eoin Ford The view from Beccles

Support clubs against Carlton & Granada: Boycott ITV world cup coverage.

You know what to do: delete the dots but leave the .s to reply to us.
0
17 years ago
#4
[q1]> For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q1]
[q1]> each grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5%[/q1]
[q1]> of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q1]

Here are last year's AS figures (from The Guardian):

Percentage of A grades:

All Subjects Male 15.3 Female 18.5 Both 17.0 Art and Design Male 17.8 Female 28.3 Both 24.7 Biology
Male 16.5 Female 19.7 Both 18.5 Business Studies Male 9.9 Female 11.4 Both 10.6 Chemistry Male 21.2
Female 24.7 Both 23.0 Classical Subjects Male 31.5 Female 33.2 Both 32.5 Communication Studies Male
6.8 Female 13.0 Both 10.9 Computing Male 8.3 Female 6.6 Both 7.8 Economics Male 22.9 Female 23.4
Both 23.0 English Male 15.8 Female 16.7 Both 16.4 Expressive Arts Male 5.1 Female 7.9 Both 7.3
French Male 29.0 Female 25.6 Both 26.6 General Studies Male 11.5 Female 11.9 Both 11.7 Geography
Male 15.2 Female 23.7 Both 19.1 German Male 25.6 Female 25.6 Both 25.6 History Male 17.6 Female 19.1
Both 18.4 Home Economics Male 12.3 Female 16.3 Both 16.0 Law Male 11.4 Female 14.4 Both 13.2 Maths
Male 19.2 Female 20.2 Both 19.6 Media,Film,TV Studies Male 10.8 Female 14.6 Both 13.0 Music Male
19.0 Female 22.9 Both 21.1 Other Modern Languages Male 43.2 Female 44.1 Both 43.7 Physics Male 21.3
Female 27.7 Both 22.8 Political Studies Male 19.8 Female 21.5 Both 20.5
Psychology Male 7.5 Female 14.0 Both 12.3 Religious Studies Male 17.5 Female 18.2 Both 18.0 Science
Subjects Male 14.5 Female 13.3 Both 14.1 Sociology Male 11.2 Female 17.1 Both 15.6 Spanish Male
28.5 Female 26.7 Both 27.2 Sport/PE Studies Male 6.6 Female 15.7 Both 9.8 Technology Subjects Male
8.5 Female 13.5 Both 10.3 Welsh Male 11.8 Female 16.2 Both 15.2 All Other Subjects Male 11.7
Female 16.2 Both 14.6

It seems that the limit is generally 20% excluding the "specialist" subjects.

---
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free. Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.323 / Virus Database: 180 - Release Date: 08/02/02
0
17 years ago
#5
"David" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]n.co.uk...
[q1]> For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q1]
[q1]> each grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5%[/q1]
[q1]> of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> What do others think?[/q1]

Two thoughts spring to mind...

1) That the number of people getting the topmost grade has gone up year by year for nearly two
decades now, indicates that there is no quota, and

2) That the grade boundaries get moved around depending on how folk have done, indicates a quota.

--
MESSAGE ENDS. John Porcella
0
17 years ago
#6
In article <[email protected] .demon.co.uk>, [email protected] wrote
[q1]> For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q1]
[q1]> each grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5%[/q1]
[q1]> of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> What do others think?[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]

If the former were true, then why do we see this grade inflation? Of course, it may be different in,
shall we say, more abstract subjects, like the Languages, or the Humanities, as opposed to the more
rigid right/wrong of Sciences / Maths where your answer is clearly either right or wrong...

Stephan
--
Stephan Bird MChem(Hons) AMRSC [email protected] REMOVE
0
17 years ago
#7
[q1]> For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q1]
[q1]> each grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5%[/q1]
[q1]> of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> What do others think?[/q1]

It's simply not true - the story comes around once in a while. The exam boards publish breakdowns of
% of students gaining each grade every year. This figure does vary from year to year.

Steve
0
17 years ago
#8
"Gaurav Sharma" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> "David" <[email protected]> wrote in message[/q1]
[q1]> news:[email protected]...[/q1]
[q2]> > For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q2]
[q2]> > each grade at each subject in public[/q2]
examinations.
[q2]> > Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5% of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will[/q2]
[q2]> > receive a grade B, and so on.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q2]
[q2]> > top grades.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > What do others think?[/q2]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a 1st, you've just got to work[/q1]
[q1]> for it". Truth is only a certain often[/q1]
predictable
[q1]> proportion of candidates will get it.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> G.Sharma.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
well if everyone does badly, comparexd to say the year before, the examiners will generally
interpret this as a harder exam. however, there 'shouldn't' be quotas. so someone at some pint,
chief examiner and chums, has to make a subjective judgement as to where to draw the bloody lines.

will
0
17 years ago
#9
[q1]> They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a 1st, you've just got to work[/q1]
[q1]> for it". Truth is only a certain often[/q1]
predictable
[q1]> proportion of candidates will get it.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> G.Sharma.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
That's rubbish, Big G. The only thing that stops people getting a first is their own performance.
Don; forget that we get extra brownie points for the number of good degrees we give. John
0
17 years ago
#10
I always thought that the raw marks were standardised in some way, my statistics is limited, but
wouldn't something like a normal distribution be used if there was a quota system in place.

--
Aonghus
[email protected] [replace xxx with com to reply]

"Stephan Bird" <[email protected] mREMOVE> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
[q1]> In article <[email protected] .demon.co.uk>, [email protected] wrote[/q1]
[q2]> > For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q2]
[q2]> > each grade at each subject in public[/q2]
examinations.
[q2]> > Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5% of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will[/q2]
[q2]> > receive a grade B, and so on.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q2]
[q2]> > top grades.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > What do others think?[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> If the former were true, then why do we see this grade inflation? Of course, it may be different[/q1]
[q1]> in, shall we say, more abstract subjects, like the Languages, or the Humanities, as opposed to the[/q1]
[q1]> more rigid right/wrong of Sciences / Maths where your answer is clearly either right or wrong...[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> Stephan[/q1]
[q1]> --[/q1]
[q1]> Stephan Bird MChem(Hons) AMRSC [email protected] REMOVE[/q1]
0
17 years ago
#11
"Gaurav Sharma" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> "David" <[email protected]> wrote in message[/q1]
[q1]> news:[email protected]...[/q1]
[q2]> > For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q2]
[q2]> > each grade at each subject in public[/q2]
examinations.
[q2]> > Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5% of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will[/q2]
[q2]> > receive a grade B, and so on.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q2]
[q2]> > top grades.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > What do others think?[/q2]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a 1st, you've just got to work[/q1]
[q1]> for it". Truth is only a certain often[/q1]
predictable
[q1]> proportion of candidates will get it.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> G.Sharma.[/q1]

According to my mates who do law, that's just plain not true. The law school enver give more tyhan a
couple of people firsts, apparently, and everything is compared to other peoples works, rather than
a standard system. So if everybody writes a great essay, they just rank them and almost randomly
distribute marks. 80% is "publishable quality". How do they decide what is publishable? I have a
serious problem with this sort of system. It smells like another one of Warwick's
make-ourselves-look-better/more important-than-we-really-are schemes.
0
17 years ago
#12
"JHP" <[email protected] t.co.uk> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
[q1]>[/q1]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a 1st, you've just got to work[/q2]
[q2]> > for it". Truth is only a certain often[/q2]
[q1]> predictable[/q1]
[q2]> > proportion of candidates will get it.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > G.Sharma.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q1]> That's rubbish, Big G. The only thing that stops people getting a first is their own performance.[/q1]

Well yeah, I wasn't denying that, but still I've got to accept there's going to be people like me
who get lowly 3rds to make other students look good. <requests an "awwww" from the audience>

G.Sharma.
0
17 years ago
#13
"Ray Pang" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> "Gaurav Sharma" <[email protected]> wrote in message[/q1]
[q1]> news:[email protected]...[/q1]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > "David" <[email protected]> wrote in message[/q2]
[q2]> > news:[email protected]...[/q2]
[q3]> > > For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a[/q3]
set
[q3]> > > quota for the award of each grade at each subject in public[/q3]
[q1]> examinations.[/q1]
[q3]> > > Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5% of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will[/q3]
[q3]> > > receive a grade B, and so on.[/q3]
[q3]> > >[/q3]
[q3]> > > The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of[/q3]
candidates
[q3]> > > determines how many get top grades.[/q3]
[q3]> > >[/q3]
[q3]> > > What do others think?[/q3]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a 1st, you've just got to work[/q2]
[q2]> > for it". Truth is only a certain often[/q2]
[q1]> predictable[/q1]
[q2]> > proportion of candidates will get it.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > G.Sharma.[/q2]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> According to my mates who do law, that's just plain not true. The law[/q1]
school
[q1]> enver give more tyhan a couple of people firsts, apparently, and[/q1]
everything
[q1]> is compared to other peoples works, rather than a standard system. So if everybody writes a great[/q1]
[q1]> essay, they just rank them and almost randomly distribute marks. 80% is "publishable quality". How[/q1]
[q1]> do they decide what is publishable? I have a serious problem with this sort of system. It smells[/q1]
[q1]> like another one of Warwick's make-ourselves-look-better/more important-than-we-really-are[/q1]
[q1]> schemes.[/q1]

Further to that, apparently (there's that word again), nobody can get 100% out of principle. What's
the point of using percentages if you don't actually use them?
0
17 years ago
#14
In particular modules, I have knocked up quite a few 100s, in Maths, Econ, Geog, General Studies (AS
level) - so I think you can get 100% UMS.

"Ray Pang" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> "Ray Pang" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...[/q1]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > "Gaurav Sharma" <[email protected]> wrote in message[/q2]
[q2]> > news:[email protected]...[/q2]
[q3]> > >[/q3]
[q3]> > > "David" <[email protected]> wrote in message[/q3]
[q3]> > > news:[email protected]...[/q3]
[q3]> > > > For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a[/q3]
[q1]> set[/q1]
[q3]> > > > quota for the award of each grade at each subject in public[/q3]
[q2]> > examinations.[/q2]
[q3]> > > > Someone somewhere decides that, for example, 5% of candidates will receive a grade A, 10%[/q3]
[q3]> > > > will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q3]
[q3]> > > >[/q3]
[q3]> > > > The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of[/q3]
[q1]> candidates[/q1]
[q3]> > > > determines how many get top grades.[/q3]
[q3]> > > >[/q3]
[q3]> > > > What do others think?[/q3]
[q3]> > >[/q3]
[q3]> > > They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a[/q3]
1st,
[q3]> > > you've just got to work for it". Truth is only a certain often[/q3]
[q2]> > predictable[/q2]
[q3]> > > proportion of candidates will get it.[/q3]
[q3]> > >[/q3]
[q3]> > > G.Sharma.[/q3]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> > According to my mates who do law, that's just plain not true. The law[/q2]
[q1]> school[/q1]
[q2]> > enver give more tyhan a couple of people firsts, apparently, and[/q2]
[q1]> everything[/q1]
[q2]> > is compared to other peoples works, rather than a standard system. So if everybody writes a[/q2]
[q2]> > great essay, they just rank them and almost randomly distribute marks. 80% is "publishable[/q2]
[q2]> > quality". How do they decide what[/q2]
is
[q2]> > publishable? I have a serious problem with this sort of system. It[/q2]
smells
[q2]> > like another one of Warwick's make-ourselves-look-better/more important-than-we-really-are[/q2]
[q2]> > schemes.[/q2]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> Further to that, apparently (there's that word again), nobody can get 100% out of principle.[/q1]
[q1]> What's the point of using percentages if you don't actually use them?[/q1]
0
17 years ago
#15
Gaurav Sharma ([email protected]) wrote:

[q1]> They tell us the exact same thing for degrees; "everyone can get a 1st, you've just got to work[/q1]
[q1]> for it". Truth is only a certain often predictable proportion of candidates will get it.[/q1]

Not at all. In my department, we awarded 25 Firsts this year. In other years we've awarded as few as
five. It just happened that this was a really excellent year.

Matthew Huntbach
0
17 years ago
#16
"Ian/Cath Ford" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
[q1]> On Sun, 23 Jun 2002 1830 +0100, David <[email protected]> wrote:[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q2]> >For a long time, there has been a widespread belief that there is a set quota for the award of[/q2]
[q2]> >each grade at each subject in public examinations. Someone somewhere decides that, for example,[/q2]
[q2]> >5% of candidates will receive a grade A, 10% will receive a grade B, and so on.[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> >The exam boards deny this. They say that the performance of candidates determines how many get[/q2]
[q2]> >[/q2]
[q2]> >What do others think?[/q2]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> The boards are right; anyone who believes the quota idea is wrong.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> Isn't it A Level Greek where there's a massive %age of As? Compare that to other subjects (I don't[/q1]
[q1]> know: Media Studies). If there's a quota system in place how on earth can there be such a[/q1]
[q1]> discrepancy?[/q1]

Different quotas for different subjects!

--
MESSAGE ENDS. John Porcella
0
17 years ago
#17
Ray Pang ([email protected]) wrote:

[q1]> According to my mates who do law, that's just plain not true. The law school enver give more tyhan[/q1]
[q1]> a couple of people firsts, apparently, and everything is compared to other peoples works, rather[/q1]
[q1]> than a standard system. So if everybody writes a great essay, they just rank them and almost[/q1]
[q1]> randomly distribute marks. 80% is "publishable quality". How do they decide what is publishable?[/q1]

As academics, we spend a major part of our working lives reading published papers, and doing
research work trying to write and get published our own papers. From this, we get a pretty good idea
of what is "publishable".

I considered one of the third year projects I marked this year as publishable. I mean by this if the
final report was condensed into a shorter academic paper, it would stand a good chance of being
published in an academic journal. As it happened, my judgement was shared independently by the
external examiner (from Cambridge) who looked at it and agreed with my assessment.

I had no idea when I marked the projects I saw what people who marked the other projects had given
them. Each project is marked independently by two people, with an external examiner looking at a
selection of them as well. If there are any large differences between the marks given by different
examiners, there is a discussion over the marks, and if no-one agrees they have been too harsh or
too generous, a third examiner is called in (without knowing the marks from the others).

Matthew Huntbach
0
17 years ago
#18
[q1]> Well yeah, I wasn't denying that, but still I've got to accept there's[/q1]
going
[q1]> to be people like me who get lowly 3rds to make other students look good. <requests an "awwww"[/q1]
[q1]> from the audience>[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> G.Sharma.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
Yeh right. John
0
17 years ago
#19
"Matthew M. Huntbach" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
[q1]> Ray Pang ([email protected]) wrote:[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q2]> > According to my mates who do law, that's just plain not true. The law[/q2]
school
[q2]> > enver give more tyhan a couple of people firsts, apparently, and[/q2]
everything
[q2]> > is compared to other peoples works, rather than a standard system. So if everybody writes a[/q2]
[q2]> > great essay, they just rank them and almost randomly distribute marks. 80% is "publishable[/q2]
[q2]> > quality". How do they decide what[/q2]
is
[q2]> > publishable?[/q2]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> As academics, we spend a major part of our working lives reading published papers, and doing[/q1]
[q1]> research work trying to write and get published our own papers. From this, we get a pretty good[/q1]
[q1]> idea of what is "publishable".[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> I considered one of the third year projects I marked this year as publishable. I mean by this if[/q1]
[q1]> the final report was condensed into a shorter academic paper, it would stand a good chance of[/q1]
[q1]> being published in an academic journal. As it happened, my judgement was shared independently by[/q1]
[q1]> the external examiner (from Cambridge) who looked at it and agreed with my assessment.[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> I had no idea when I marked the projects I saw what people who marked the other projects had given[/q1]
[q1]> them. Each project is marked independently by two people, with an external examiner looking at a[/q1]
[q1]> selection of them as well. If there are any large differences between the marks given by different[/q1]
[q1]> examiners, there is a discussion over the marks, and if no-one agrees they have been too harsh or[/q1]
[q1]> too generous, a third examiner is called in (without knowing the marks from the others).[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> Matthew Huntbach[/q1]

Fair point. What I'm against is that if there were 100 "publishable standard" pieces, then only a
few would be awarded 1sts, purely out of a strange principle.
0
17 years ago
#20
"Peter Windridge" <[email protected] m> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
[q1]> In particular modules, I have knocked up quite a few 100s, in Maths, Econ, Geog, General Studies[/q1]
[q1]> (AS level) - so I think you can get 100% UMS.[/q1]

Oh I *know* you can get 100% in A/AS-level modules. It's just that in law at Warwick Uni I'm told
that it's impossible.
0
X
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

### Oops, nobody has postedin the last few hours.

Why not re-start the conversation?

see more

### See more of what you like onThe Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

### Poll

Join the discussion

#### What factors affect your mental health the most right now? (select all that apply)

Lack of purpose or routine (160)
15.55%
Uncertainty around my education (167)
16.23%
Uncertainty around my future career prospects (98)
9.52%
Isolating with family (71)
6.9%
Lack of support system (eg. Teachers, counsellors) (38)
3.69%
Lack of exercise/ability to be outside (90)
8.75%
Loneliness (102)
9.91%
Financial worries (46)
4.47%
Concern about myself or my loved ones getting ill (94)
9.14%
Exposure to negative news/social media (73)
7.09%
Lack of real life entertainment (eg. cinema, gigs, restaurants) (90)
8.75%