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Exams Have Got Easier Study Claims

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3458830/Pupils-B-grade-level-maths-today-scored-E-50-years-ago-study-shows-exams-got-easier.html

  • Research finds standards in maths have dramatically declined since 1960s
  • Concerns that British children are falling behind peers in other countries
  • But Loughborough University findings showed little change in last 20 years

Pupils who score a B grade in A-level maths today would only have got an E grade 50 years ago, a new study of grade inflation suggests.

The research, by Loughborough University, found standards in the subject have dramatically declined since the 1960s as exam papers have become easier.

It confirms long-held views that those who took the maths exams five decades ago would have to be schooled to a much higher standard to achieve a good mark.

Critics have warned that erosion of standards over the last century has led to youngsters in the UK falling behind peers in other countries in maths ability.

And elite universities have complained that the high numbers of students obtaining top grades makes it harder for them to select the truly exceptional candidates.

However, while recent exam papers appear to be significantly easier than those taken in the 1960s, there appears to have been little change in the last 20 years.

Is this due to the expansion of higher education? Bigger numbers doing A-Levels have led to a decline in standards as it was impossible to maintain quality? Or has mathematics changed so what is required is now different and appears easier?

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Education has become all commercial, and that is wrong.

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3458830/Pupils-B-grade-level-maths-today-scored-E-50-years-ago-study-shows-exams-got-easier.html

Is this due to the expansion of higher education? Bigger numbers doing A-Levels have led to a decline in standards as it was impossible to maintain quality? Or has mathematics changed so what is required is now different and appears easier?

Rival examination boards competing for pupils.

Why got to one exam board and get a B when you could go to the other and get an A. My Latin tutor (and this obviously many years ago) let slip that they entered their pupils for a particular exam board as the grades were better.

Exam boards have to make money to stay in business so if one makes their exam easier and gains more entrants then so must the others if they wish to remain in business. It's like countries competing economically by devaluing their currencies in turns.

Fifty years of this and the combined effect is clearly huge.

Nobody designed it that way and children presumably work as hard. But the fact remains that the exams are easier.

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Rival examination boards competing for pupils.

Why got to one exam board and get a B when you could go to the other and get an A. My Latin tutor (and this obviously many years ago) let slip that they entered their pupils for a particular exam board as the grades were better.

Exam boards have to make money to stay in business so if one makes their exam easier and gains more entrants then so must the others if they wish to remain in business. It's like countries competing economically by devaluing their currencies in turns.

Fifty years of this and the combined effect is clearly huge.

Nobody designed it that way and children presumably work as hard. But the fact remains that the exams are easier.

I think this is correct. At my firm our new recruits have academic qualifications that outstrip by miles those of the senior management; yet the ability of these "high flyers" to spell, write concise grammatically correct prose or present evidence to support conclusions is woefully poor. We've wondered if it's just our age and natural grumpiness.

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Rival examination boards competing for pupils.

Why got to one exam board and get a B when you could go to the other and get an A. My Latin tutor (and this obviously many years ago) let slip that they entered their pupils for a particular exam board as the grades were better.

Exam boards have to make money to stay in business so if one makes their exam easier and gains more entrants then so must the others if they wish to remain in business. It's like countries competing economically by devaluing their currencies in turns.

Fifty years of this and the combined effect is clearly huge.

Nobody designed it that way and children presumably work as hard. But the fact remains that the exams are easier.

Indeed. it's been going on for years.

I did my A-levels in 1990, fortunately I had a good supply of 1970s and 1980s past exam papers to practice against and so was able to easily ace my A-levels. It was pretty clear even then the exams i was practicing against were harder than the ones I took, this process has got worse and worse to the extent that a modern A-level is on par with an old O-level.

I also see this with current millennial graduates, recently i was asked by one of our Sales Graduates (from a pretty well respected university) how to calculate what percentage one number was of another.

I think firms need to introduce their own exams, as it clear our current educationalists aren't meeting the mark.

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I think firms need to introduce their own exams, as it clear our current educationalists aren't meeting the mark.

I was at one firm that put all existing managers through difficult language reasoning and maths tests. There was a huge range of results.

It would have been a much better idea to, as you say, do that at the entrance point.

It doesn't mean that you have to pass to get in, but it does inform it.

The worst (by a mile) were the sales guys but that's not surprising, they succeed by their interpersonal skills and that's what they keep honing, not report-writing or calculation.

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I was at one firm that put all existing managers through difficult language reasoning and maths tests. There was a huge range of results.

It would have been a much better idea to, as you say, do that at the entrance point.

It doesn't mean that you have to pass to get in, but it does inform it.

The worst (by a mile) were the sales guys but that's not surprising, they succeed by their interpersonal skills and that's what they keep honing, not report-writing or calculation.

But then you end up with ******tards like me who can ace these tests but not actually do any productive work. So I don't think that's the answer either.

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[quote name="Mikhail Liebenstein" post="1102890522" timestamp="1456181950

I think firms need to introduce their own exams, as it clear our current educationalists aren't meeting the mark.

Most places do SHL tests now. But they're so absurdly easy it's laughable. The practice tests are a touch harder but you'd be surprised what the bell curve looks like for them (most firms are happy with the 50th percentile which usually equates to 30% correct!). Google practice SHL numeric tests.

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I was at one firm that put all existing managers through difficult language reasoning and maths tests. There was a huge range of results.

It would have been a much better idea to, as you say, do that at the entrance point.

It doesn't mean that you have to pass to get in, but it does inform it.

The worst (by a mile) were the sales guys but that's not surprising, they succeed by their interpersonal skills and that's what they keep honing, not report-writing or calculation.

Funnily enough my wife was supposed to do an on-line test as part of her conditional employment for the role she is in now. She was busy with her then current role and put the test off right up until the deadline so I stepped in and took it for her in the kitchen at 10 o'clock at night after a stressful day with the children, tired and ready for bed. I scored 78% which ranked as financial controller and higher than anyone else including the finance director at her place. She's terribly proud of herself lop

Surprise Surprise the two sales directors that have come into the company since she has been there have scored terribly (she got to see as she was part of the selection panel), one guy scored low 20s proved to be no good at job and dismissed and the newest sales director scored 40 but can do the job to a reasonable standard.

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Not sure.

There's an element of competition to be easier by exam boards.

I think the biggest scam going is schools getting kids to do loads of pointless, easy A levels.

I've seen a student from a nominally good school turn up with 5 A levels A-C - geography, english lit, psychology, politics, media studies.

Useless for HE. Useless for work.

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How about schools return to getting the basic grounding correct and let like oh I don't know employers train recruits the particular skill sets they require (which tend to be bespoke anyway).

Just like the old days.

let the schools focus on the core principles instead of spreading jam thinly pandering to employers. Too many range of subjects imo.

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Not sure.

There's an element of competition to be easier by exam boards.

I think the biggest scam going is schools getting kids to do loads of pointless, easy A levels.

I've seen a student from a nominally good school turn up with 5 A levels A-C - geography, english lit, psychology, politics, media studies.

Useless for HE. Useless for work.

Useless for certain degrees (or even vocations)?? Are you sure??

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Maths A-levels were so far beneath anyone with a brain as to feel meaningless back in my day (1979). What do you need for Grade A? 95%? 98%? No, only about 60%! Good grief, WTF is the point of that? Cambridge entrance exams, by contrast, were genuinely challenging.

My nephew had the same experience in 2009. A-levels that were an insult to the intelligence, but different and much harder exams he took for his Cambridge entrance.

Got that message from other universities, too. At other universities I applied to (now Russell Group) I got the message "we offer EE, but almost all our students have AAA or more". The A-level came nowhere near to distinguishing the sheep from the goats.

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How about schools return to getting the basic grounding correct and let like oh I don't know employers train recruits the particular skill sets they require (which tend to be bespoke anyway).

Just like the old days.

let the schools focus on the core principles instead of spreading jam thinly pandering to employers. Too many range of subjects imo.

Schools exist to keep teachers in jobs and voting Labour.

Why else do you think Brown ruled that people have to stay at school til hey were 18 rather than set a educational level and sack teachers who fail to get pupils to that level.

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Maths A-levels were so far beneath anyone with a brain as to feel meaningless back in my day (1979). What do you need for Grade A? 95%? 98%? No, only about 60%! Good grief, WTF is the point of that? Cambridge entrance exams, by contrast, were genuinely challenging.

My nephew had the same experience in 2009. A-levels that were an insult to the intelligence, but different and much harder exams he took for his Cambridge entrance.

Got that message from other universities, too. At other universities I applied to (now Russell Group) I got the message "we offer EE, but almost all our students have AAA or more". The A-level came nowhere near to distinguishing the sheep from the goats.

Don't they look for Further Maths too?

As in Maths, Further Maths and Physics should still stand you goodish.

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Don't they look for Further Maths too?

As in Maths, Further Maths and Physics should still stand you goodish.

Further maths was of course included in my comments. And Higher Maths.

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Back in my O and A level days at a school in NI we heard than London Examining Board exams were much easier to pass than NI Examining Board exams. Naturally we asked why we could not do the London ones. The reply was that no one would ever take use seriously if we did.

Edit to add: It was the late 60s.

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I don't think it makes much difference how difficult the exams are. By-and-large the people taking the exams (today or 20 or 50 years ago) are only competing with their peers, and easier exams just means that to excel you have to take more of them, and have to get even better results.

The lot of of the A-level student isn't 'easy' for the current generation - they still have to work their socks off (just like those students of 20 or 50 years ago) - if the changing difficulty levels just means they need 3 A or A* plus one or two other good A-levels, rather than A in chosen subject plus 2 good A-levels (30 years ago) or A,B or C in chosen subject plus one or two other A-levels (50 years ago). It really doesn't make any difference that the grading has changed over this time.

I suppose it gives people something to moan about, but there isn't really an absolutely 'best' approach.

There has been a bit of a change in that more students take 4 or 5 A-levels, which could be seen to have increased breadth of learning at the expense of depth at fewer subjects - but a) this isn't a bad thing (even if the university moans that they need the depth - the 'world' might end up being a better place with graduates who have a broader learning) and b ) they still have to be good - the university will just have increased their requirement from C in subject (say) to A.

From my experience (which is now 5 years old as I don't work with recently recruited graduates any more) there is little problem with the knowledge and skill set of graduates (I suppose the time at HE might have sorted them out, but I doubt it), but I have noticed that more recent graduates are less able to produce 'just good enough' work - they've had years where they have to really excel and so can't do anything but excellent - which is useless if excellent takes 3 weeks but in the 5 days they've had to do the work they only get 1/3 of the work done. Years ago graduates were much better at producing mediocre work (what was required) at very short time-scales. I think this tells us something quite profound about the changes in the way students have managed their education over the years, but I can't work out exactly what it is.

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I have a whole raft of certificates at O level from different places. We did Nuffield Chemistry and maybe Nuffield Physics.

Half way through my A levels (the summer holiday) I self-taught a Biology O level and got a B in the November exams - the last chance to take an O level.

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Education has become all commercial, and that is wrong.

Yes, commercial, very expensive and far easier than it used to be........ They want me to work as a nurse, they can pay for my training and pay a small bursary/expences or why bother...there are plenty of jobs where they will train you whilst paying you....doctor anyone?

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I don't think it makes much difference how difficult the exams are. By-and-large the people taking the exams (today or 20 or 50 years ago) are only competing with their peers, and easier exams just means that to excel you have to take more of them, and have to get even better results.

Problem is that you are testing different skill sets.

If you set an easy exam, then you are testing exam technique as much as anything: timing, absolutely reading the question etc. So as long as the complete dunce has done loads of practice questions, he will do well because he has leant that not dropping a mark for giving your answer to the wrong number of decimal places is really important. The genius on the other hand may fly through the paper, find the questions easy, but drop a mark for carelessness, and then get an A rather than an A*.

If you want to test mastery of the subject, then you set an exam which the dunces will fail, the middle ground will get 60% and the best people struggle to get more than 90.

I remember this from the 80s and it has got far worse now. A level papers - as long as you did the revision, did a load of practice papers, you'd be good. Cambridge Entrance Papers (I think they used to be called AS) were on a different plane of complexity. A levels seemed easy, but I was regularly getting sub 50% in the AS papers at the beginning, and by the end of the year had managed to drag it up to about 60 - 70%. I remember one Physics paper that was trying to get you to derive quantum mechanics from first principles. If you had a knowledge of the subject, you had a small advantage, but all the information you needed was in the question. If you were a genius, you've be able to answer the question with no subject knowledge at all.

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Problem is that you are testing different skill sets.

I'd agree with that.

For example, we really have everything driven by the syllabus. If it's in the syllabus then learn it, if it isn't don't.

Now this is probably obvious, but it changes the way people learn - from being a pure activity to something which is very driven. The graduates I saw were good within their syllabus, but relatively hopeless outside of it. I'd be in favour of all exams having a paper (or section in the paper) called 'anything' - an easier question but outside of the syllabus - testing the general knowledge/ability about the subject rather than how well they attended their lessons. Every recent graduate I suggested this to were aghast at the thought - how would you revise for it!!! But actually this is more like the real-world.

I'd also agree about the risk side of an easier exam - easier for a good candidate to drop a grade when getting an A* entails perfection (rather than 85% or whatever in a more difficult exam) - in that respect 'easier' exams are a bad thing.

But I'd stand by my original statement - the current lot of A level candidates work very hard, and at least as hard as students of old. All this talk of easier exams serves to diminish their achievements when in reality the easiness of the exam is not that relevant (if you just have to get better results than you used to have to).

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The kids are getting stupidier as well as sicker and more emotionally delicate.

http://professorconfess.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/cats-and-education.html?m=1

I like my pork well done and crispy. Should I eat raw meat more? I don't mind a rare steak or pickled fish.

The article sounds suspiciously like tripe to me. :huh:

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I like my pork well done and crispy. Should I eat raw meat more? I don't mind a rare steak or pickled fish.

The article sounds suspiciously like tripe to me. :huh:

Real men take their meat like they take their women... RAW!

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