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Here is an article by the BBC on the topic but with a different view in my opinion. ...sorry, you cannot view external links. To see them, please
REGISTER or LOGINThe interview seemed to be suggesting tweaking the current system to make it more effective, which I can't argue against. The BBC article is reporting on something far more drastic. Scrapping he modular system, possibly scrapping the AS levels and limiting the number of resits. Which I do take issue with.First off I am led to believe that all universities work on some sort of modular system so surely it is hypocritical to say the modular system prepares students poorly for university. AS levels seem like a good idea to me with no apparent downsides. They give a good indication on what universities you should apply to and which should give you offers. They allow you to drop a subject after the first year and still gain some recognition for it. People seem to assume that resits automatically result in a higher grade. In my experience the people who do significantly better on resits are the ones who were just unlucky in the first exam, panicked etc. If you are bad at the subject no realistic amount of resits will get you an A. I agree that there are an excessive amount of resists occurring, I'm not convinced that it's effecting the overall outcome of A levels.This really brings me to my main point, education should strive to be as fair as possible. It isn't and neither is life but I think it's important to strive to make it as fair as possible. Similarly your A level should accurately reflect your ability at a subject and the role of luck should be minimized as much as possible. So anything that reduces the role of luck is beneficial. A non modular system seems to do the opposite. It could be argued that if you took enough resits you'd happen to get lucky once and do well, I think you'd be doing a lot of resists to manage this. I think there is plenty of room for improvement in A levels, however changing the whole system is certainly not the answer, what we need to do is to keep refining and tweaking the current system. The current proposals seem to be being made by people who have not done A levels for donkey's years and have no real idea.My current situation is I've currently got 2 more days of exams until I finish my A levels. I study double maths, physics and chemistry and have an offer from Cambridge to study engineering which hopefully I will meet And anyone who says A levels are easy can't have taken further maths.
At Cambridge University we rely very little on coursework, at least in the life sciences. Assessment is structured around rigorous examination that is fair and comprehensive.
It's fair because everyone knows the exam is coming and everyone gets the same paper and the same teaching. It's comprehensive because it aims to test the majority of the course, so people cannot learn one thing in detail and "get lucky".
Then the question of retakes or "second chances". Let me post a theoretical scenario at you. Let's say you need complex, delicate surgery to correct an internal problem. Corrected, you'll be fine, but if the surgery goes wrong, there's a serious chance you'll die. Let's say you're offered a choice of three surgeons who could perform the work for you, all of whom have a piece of paper saying "medical / surgery degree; licensed to butcher people etc" and the GMC says they can operate.One of the surgeons had to re-sit all his exams through 5 years of medical school, several times, because he failed most stuff first time around. But ultimately he scraped a pass in his finals and is now working at the hospital you've attended.The second surgeon was a middle of the road candidate. She did passably well throughout the course and qualified without incident.The third candidate was top of the year in every exam, won prizes, and has published papers on correcting the problem you're suffering with.Given a choice, which candidate would you pick to operate on you? And bear in mind, if they get it wrong, there is no re-take - you'll probably die.The point I am trying to make with my slightly extreme example is that in some instances excellence is necessary, and that means excellence the first time, not after 2 retakes.
The problem the present system has is that over one third of candidates at A level are now returning As. As a mathematician you must be acquainted with a Normal distribution, and must therefore recognise that one third of the population sitting at one end of the grade spectrum is a heavy skew and totally unrepresentative of the bell-shaped curve of results one would expect from a population? This is partly the consequence of modularisation and resitting. And it's making candidates' lives harder, not easier.
Because, where in the past people would receive a clear steer towards where their talents were really placed, the present system fools people into thinking they are competitively good at things that they are really average at. This makes it hard for universities and employers to select the best candidates and also does no favours for the poor candidates who end up struggling but have wasted 3 years of their lives working for a degree in a subject they aren't brilliant at.
I'd like to see A levels restored to a competitive process where a proportion of the population achieve each grade, rather than the absolute grading that goes on now.
University exams (and certainly at Cambridge) are not modular; and what you do in the first couple of years generally does not count towards your degree score, which is usually based solely on the final (usually third) year performance.
Wow Geezer, you are being picky. The English was pretty good by most of today's standards and especially if typing straight into the quick reply box. It's better than many who post on this site. I know some quite senior engineers whose written English is appalling (and whose first language is English). And as I'm also someone who tends to be somewhat verbose in writing, I will disregard the "walls of text" comment :-) This isn't Twitter afterall.
Note that Geezer's gone all AmericaniZed and started putting a Z into everything where a S would be so much more engliZh...