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Are Exams Getting Easier?


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Every year there are more passes and at higher rate (more A passes etc) and there is always a debate. I've heard a lot from the students saying "no its still hard" and not to mock them. I'm sure they do work hard but my Dad sent me some sample papers from around about when he was taking his exams as a lad. He just mentioned how hard he found trying to do them now and how much he'd forgotten and sent them to me to have a go.

 

I found the GCE maths paper pretty hard and couldn't complete them in the allotted time. I thought I'd see what I would be like taking a recent GCSE and they just seemed pretty straight forward. I also couldn't believe the actual reliance on calculators with some questions saying "Use a calculator to work out..."

 

I guess education moves with the times and society but just as a matter of interest I thought I'd post up the exams so you could see the difference.

 

GCE Maths 1957 and 1962

 

O_level_1957.doc

1962_O_Level_Maths_Paper_1.doc

1962_O_Level_Maths_Paper_2.doc

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The whole lot mystifies me, but then again I did think myself lucky to get a C in my maths GCSE.

 

I was far more concerned with ladies' bits and suchlike when I was a teenager, and nothing much has changed in all honesty, so down with maths and up with skirts, or something.

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There was a programme (might have been last year, maybe the year before) where they sent a bunch of teenagers to do the exams from the (60's?) - I can't fully recall the whole outcome but for sure, a lot of them struggled.

 

I think these days, there's a lot more support around. I know I struggled with certain subjects back in the day (maths being one of them) and there wasn't an awful lot of help to be had. I'd certainly have liked the internet to have been around in its current form back then, that's for sure.

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most people just carry on learning and hone the skills that are needed in everyday life.

 

if they cannot do maths in their head without the aid of a calculator they will learn when they end up in mc donalds

Edited by manxman2
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These qualifications in the 1960s were taken by far fewer people than they are today.

 

They served an entirely different function and filtered the top pupils into a far smaller group destined eventually for university which was far more elitist and restricted than it is now.

 

With massively increased access that top level filtering isn't needed nearly as much nowadays.

 

There is a problem as the top universities are having increasing difficulty finding the best candidates as grades have opened up to filter for much more open higher education. So they are introducing their own entrance exams.

 

I find the debate slightly stale - you do not need everyone to be a maths' wizard - but you do need to ensure basic numeracy skills are taught. Requiring everyone to do calculus isn't necessary and infact may be counter productive as its difficulty may be a block which stops the less numerate starting in the first place.

 

I favour units, a bit like the American system - everyone needs maths 101, but don't make everyone think they have to reach maths level 5 and have to do it no matter how little it interests or inspires them - that isn't a way to create an educated work force.

 

I think of these early papers as teaching more numerate kids the skills to get to a univesity place when only 5% went. Of course they are more difficult than now, but I don't see that as necessarily being a problem - shutting of the maths 101 understanding and not attempting to ensure general numeracy is a far bigger problem and one that tends to be lost in the noise generated in the "exams are getting easier" debates.

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Of course they are more difficult than now, but I don't see that as necessarily being a problem - shutting of the maths 101 understanding and not attempting to ensure general numeracy is a far bigger problem and one that tends to be lost in the noise generated in the "exams are getting easier" debates.

 

It's a problem because the top fifty percent (or so) of exam takers are all getting the same grade - A*. That means there is no way to distinguish between the average and the really bright.

 

There is no need to make the exams harder (unless people really are getting every question 100% right - which I doubt). They just need to mark them to a higher standard so that the marks reflect the spectrum of ability.

 

Then the universities won't need to spend a fortune duplicating the exams, which is a ridiculous waste of time and money.

 

S

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A Levels are certainly a lot easier for students now then they were 10 years ago. Most students at my school only have to learn one term's work before the exam - many of the answers only require short answer responses too. The GCSE exam is in some ways more challenging - particularly with the amount of work over two years that a student has to revise for the exam.

Edited by ed fournier
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