Students can get an A with almost half the questions wrong in new 'tougher' A-levels, leak reveals

Posted on: 2018-08-16 07:00:00

Document detailing pass marks required for two of the country’s biggest exam boards, OCR and EdExcel, surfaced online on Wednesday night sending pupils into a panic on the eve of results day.

 Just 55 per cent is enough to achieve an A grade in the new OCR Advanced Biology A-level, the leaked documents shows, while 59 per cent will secure an A in Biology.

Meanwhile, students who answer 66 per cent of questions correctly in the reformed Mathematics A-level will be awarded an A, as will those who achieve 64 per cent in Advanced Physics.  

On Thursday students across the country will receive their A-level results, many of which have been re-designed, with coursework and modules axed.

The package of reforms, initiated by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, followed concerns from universities that schools leavers were insufficiently prepared for the rigours of higher education.

Universities also complained that thousands of students were predicted As or A*s at A-levels and GCSEs, making it impossible for them to distinguish who the top candidates were.

 To prevent students from being penalised for taking the new, harder exams this year, Ofqual ensures that the proportion of children awarded pass marks is roughly the same as last year through a process they call “comparative outcomes”.

But experts have warned that artificially lowering the pass marks to ensure consistency between different cohorts creates an illusion that students are doing better than they actually are.  

Thousands of students are expected to enter the clearing process after receiving their A-level results on Thursday, as universities attempt to outdo one another to attract school leavers.

A dip in applications has left even top ranking institutions, including the majority of Russell Group universities, scrabbling to fill places, as a decline in the population of 18-year-olds has led to applications to British universities falling by 1.6 per cent.

Students are being urged to enrol for two year degrees through clearing, with some universities offering savings of up to £30,000.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-Chancellor at Buckingham University, which is one of the biggest providers of two year degrees, said: “They were always a very good option but nobody talked about it and nobody knew about it. “It appeared cranky and odd. But now it has entered the mainstream”.

Tuition fees for two year degrees at a handful of universities - including Staffordshire and London Metropolitan – are £18,500, representing a considerable saving from the usual £27,750 for a three year course.

In London, living costs alone can be over £20,000 per year for students, according to University College London analysis.

An OCR spokesperson said that the leak is “disappointing”, adding that they do not officially release grade boundaries ahead of results day so as not to “add to pressure on students”.  

A spokesperson for Pearson, which owns EdExcel, said: "We set the grade boundaries for each exam paper, each year. This ensures a fair system, so that students of the same ability will get the same grade in different years, even if there are marginal differences in the demand of papers."  

A spokesman for Ofqual said: "Grade boundaries have been set using statistics to carry forward standards from previous qualifications. “Senior examiners have confirmed that the standard of work in each subject is appropriate for the grade."

Source: The Telegraph

Available on the go

Once you are registered, you can access all of these key benefits straight from your phone. Find us on:

Get it on iTunes Get it on Google Play