New, Untested A Level Exams Stressing Students

Awaiting any examination results is stressful, but when you factor in the issues associated with this year's A Level exams, no wonder the 2017 student cohort is feeling the pressure...
New, Untested A Level Exams Stressing Students
By C Hoppe
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The 2017 changes to thirteen A Level examinations are causing students awaiting this year's results additional stress.

This year saw significant changes to: Art and design, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, English language and English language and literature, English literature, history, physics, psychology and sociology.

Assessment of the above subjects is now primarily by exam, with, according to the Ofqual website, "other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills".

In addition, the A Level course work ceased being modular and January examinations were removed from the curriculum.

Talking to the UK's Guardian newspaper, students said, they felt "ill-prepared with no past papers, no marking schemes and no clarity about grade boundaries."

The pressure was added to, by the removal of marks for coursework and AS levels being 'decoupled' and no longer count towards A Level.

One student who sat economics, geography and biology told the paper:

"I feel like I’m a lab rat being tested on… No past papers. No examiner reports. Misleading specimen papers. No mark schemes. No practice. It’s been awful. So much relies upon these results, and I’m terrified.”

Students were reassured they would not be disadvantaged by the exams watchdog Ofqual.

The watchdog promised the use of comparable outcomes to ensure that the 2017 results would be similar to last year’s.

“While the subject content has been updated to support students’ progression to higher education, the level of demand of the content and its volume have not changed,” said Ofqual’s executive director for general qualifications, Julie Swan.

“The exam boards will use statistical predictions when setting grade boundaries, making sure this year’s students are not disadvantaged because they are the first to take the qualifications.”

She went on to say, “so a student who might have expected to get a grade B last year, for example, should expect to get a grade B this year.”

However, many students who contacted the publication said the level of support from the exam boards had been 'laughably non-existent.'

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