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 A-Levels

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Jay leno
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Joined: 04 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:15 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Anyone here taking them? Do we have any young UK baiters?

If so goodluck! I hope you get the results you really want and get into the university you really want aswell! (If not I hear the University of Ladland still has places and the geography course is really good- Just a thought)

Now for a bit of discussion

A-Level results have reached their highest pass rate ever (97.5%) now universities are struggling to take new students purely on grades. Do you think exams are getting easier, or is it infact we are all breeding brainboxes? Does any exam actually mean anything these days? What are your opinions?

I saw Lisas sister study hard but also play hard and Lisa is taking her for her results today so we will see if its paid off, She is quite smart, but she did comment on how easy the exams were (My intake year was the first year to have the 5 points for getting your front sheet right) and the questions seemed to be prepared like teachers.

I remember when doing my A-Levels the teachers were always close to what is on the exam, almost like they wrote the exam themselves, They'd teach you things that magically appeared on the exam, and nothing that didn't

SO whats your opinions?

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thud419
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:36 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I think it's a disinformation problem. There is no way to tell if it is easier or harder, because the syllabus changes all the time, as do the teaching and assessment methodologies.

There's a 97.5% pass rate among people who take the exam, not among the general population. That means that teachers were accurate enough in their judgements that they wasted the time of only 2.5% of their pupils.

There's 60 million people in the UK, which is roughly one million in each year of life. So one million kids are the right age to take A levels, but only about 360,000 will have university places by the end of today (a few more will later.) So it seems that almost 2 out of 3 kids don't take A levels at all. (assuming relatively few take them with no intention of going to university.)

It seems to me that back in my day, three decades ago, A levels were more elitist than that, but it could well be that what has changed is the children's expectations.

It could also be that there is a new strata of soft subjects which give access to soft colleges and/or subjects. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not a new thing either, in my day the General Paper was a gimme.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I can't say much about the UK specifically as I've never been there (save for a layover at Heathrow). What I have noticed, though, is that there seems to be this trend spreading across the world where the goal of education systems has become more about making sure the students officially pass rather than making sure they learn. Something about self-esteem or some PC shit like that. Confused

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Jay leno
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:17 am Reply with quoteBack to top

General studies was an awful paper which I am proud to say I failed and I am proud of that! It asked questions such as

"Does space exploration actually help? Explain why this is a good question"

To which I replied with a mild slap

"If you don't know why it is a good question why the flip are you asking me???"

I've got to take Kelly up soon, even though she used the UCAS loophole where she logged in and saw she got accepted into a university, making her results a formality now. I can guarrentee Orange/Vodafone/o2/Virgin/T-Mobile et al will be loving today as all the cells will be getting jammed and the students bills increasing with all the phone calls being made.

Thud I agree with most parts but the sylabus doesnt change every week it changes every few years and thats only to add a new topic, I will look forward to see the GCSE results next week to see if the trend continues.

This is not only bad for universities but employers aswell, How will we filter out people?

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El Nombre
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:58 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I picked up my A2 results today... took Geography, German and ICT, and i managed to get... CDE :/

C - Geography (still, better than most of ladland)
D - ICT
E - German (was hoping for a D, but oh well, i always was carp at the subject)

Still it's enough, i'm, off to Uni to study games design Very Happy

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Rodus
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:17 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^Dawn of War 3 if your avatars anything to go by Wink
I think it does kids a disservice to say that exams have gotten easier now, especially as many have worked very hard for them. The main problem is that too many are pushed into going to Uni when it's really not suitable for them.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:51 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I work at a UK University (clerical/admin) and can confirm Rodus's comment - many kids nowadays go to Uni as it's seen as the next part of the educational conveyor belt. A lot of them simply don't realise what they are letting themselves in for. Hopefully while at Uni these are the ones we can help to grow and develop into adults who can make their own informed choices for their future.

We can tell that some have been pushed into it, rather than wanting to do it. Case in point, I received a phonecall from a student needing timetable info...
Me: "Which course are you doing?"
Him: "Economics"
Me: "Is that an undergraduate or postgraduate course?"
Him: "It's Economics"
Me: "Ok... is it a BA, a BSc, an MA, an MSc, or an MBA?"
Him: "It's Economics"
and so on.

Things are further complicated by the fact that Universities are now being fined by HEFCE (the HE funding council) if they go over their allotted recruitment quota. Yeah, that's a good move in a recession... people can't get jobs, decide to study for a new career, but can't get a place because the quota's been met. HEFCE say it's to preserve quality of teaching. Hmm, we'll see.

@El Nombre - congrats, hope you enjoy your course!

C

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Caligula
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:56 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I agree with Rodus. Where back in the old days (my apologies for everyone over 45, but everyone double my age I lable as 'old' Wink) most people started a study and finished in it. Today we are in a waterfall-system. Most students aim as high as possible, notice they can't cope with the high pressure and take an easier class the next year. I don't quite know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. Getting into uni is fairly easy nowadays, but when it comes down to actually finishing a study, it is still hard.

In the class I took we started off with about 200 students. Now, three years later there are still about 60 of them left. And that doesn't include me, I switched class too. The actual selection doesnt happen anymore before you go to uni, but in uni itself. I remember exams that were only passed by about 40% of all students. Students who passed all their exams without having to re-do any in august was about 30%. Is it a good thing? I don't know. It just means that you can't say 'wow, we got smart youth nowadays' when the number of students starting uni are higher. You should take the number of those who graduate into account. Uni isn't as elite as in the old days anymore.

But ofcourse, I'm speaking from my Belgian point of view, I don't know if this trend is going on in other countries aswell.

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N N N
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:12 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

If such a large percentage of students are passing these exams then how come there's a huge and growing market of kids with little or no qualifications looking for their first ever job .... STILL!

How come there's a growing number of ex-students armed with degrees that also can't get jobs?

The kds might be passing their exams but the country is failing them.

Back on topic I think the pupil selection for taking an A level is better controlled than it was formerly plus the teaching standards being higher and then there's the peer pressure to get that elusive job driving the kids harder.
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Jay leno
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:25 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

@El Nombre COngrats! What uni are you off to?

(Kelly got 3 A's and she STILL cried over it although now Im stuck a car full of streamers)

Not to take the thunder out of these kids results (Which they all worked hard for no doubt) but its becoming obvious that exams are becoming easier. Seeing the A2 business exam (I sat the course in 04/05) and the questions are no doubt easier, I had to explain about quangos and give an example of how one works. Now the questions are "What is a Limited company" I would have cheered if I got that question.

As I say not to take the thunder away. Congrats to everyone who passed!

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thud419
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

When I got my first job after university, it was at the same company as a mate from school. He was about a year ahead of me on the management ladder, so if I had been bothered, which I wasn't, university didn't actually do me any good. But I didn't go there to be able to advance faster or earn more money; I went there to learn.

Of course when I was there I got a full grant; none of this loan carp. One of my flat-mates in the first-year spent the whole grant on an electric guitar and had to do bar work for the rest of the year, but bar work was about the only job you could do as a full-time student. These days students tend to get a full- or part-time job to be able to survive. I don't remember having that much free time - I was in lecture theaters or labs pretty much every morning and afternoon. But I think that's more to do with teaching and assessment methods than any reduction in work-load.

@El Nombre, congratulations on your results. I always say that the guy who said school days are the best days of your life never went to university. It's great fun.

Edit: The rise in A level passes may be due to the schools league tables. Teachers are unwilling to enter risky pupils for the exams.

@N N N, The job market in software engineering has always been stupid: everyone wants a couple of years of real work experience and nobody is willing to train anyone, whether they've got a degree or not. But it's been like that for at least thirty years.

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Jay leno
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:10 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

We will see the GCSE results next week. ALthough I think there will be a high pass rate

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:19 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I remember as a high school senior taking a battery of tests to be eligible for college admission and scholarships. I have always done well on tests, as I can regurgitate information easily. (That's why I make a good trainer. Wink)

Back then (40+ years ago) high school students had three choices in their high school "tracks" - general, business, and college prep. For the most part, only college prep kids took the PSAT and SAT exams. That is probably still true today. In fact, many school districts now offer "vocational high schools" to train students for careers rather than college.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:30 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm headed to Swansea Met, really looking forward to it, but first, a holiday which i won't spend worried Very Happy

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