# Mumsnet Talk

(108 Posts)
LibraryBook Wed 11-Sep-13 14:19:32

Just trying to understand how different teachers/schools arrive at predicted UCAS grades for A2, to put on the UCAS form?

I'd be grateful for any explanations.

hatsybatsy Wed 11-Sep-13 15:10:17

am not a teacher... but when my grade predictions were done it was based on my mock exams - with homework and term time tests taken into account if there was any doubt.

Wed 11-Sep-13 16:01:13

AS results I would have thought?

LibraryBook Wed 11-Sep-13 17:30:59

The universities see the AS grades in any case, so what is the point of having a separate predicted grade if it's the same as the AS grade?

And what happens if they are reducing subjects from 5 to 4 or from 4 to 3 at A2?

I had hoped it would be a little more scientific than just the achieved grade at AS.

Wed 11-Sep-13 17:36:18

We generally predict the grade achieved at AS or a grade above. We look at how close they were to the next grafe boundary - if over half way they go up. Then we look at each individual case and adjust accordingly.

Wed 11-Sep-13 18:31:26

AS doesn't have an A* grade so perhaps that involves some mathematical juggling?

Blissx Wed 11-Sep-13 19:49:51

As a teacher, they are based on their AS results, individual circumstances, current work ethic and professional judgement. Last year, my school was spot on with the predictions bar 1.2% of cases so we're generally pretty good at it!

LibraryBook Wed 11-Sep-13 21:24:26

Blissx - 'professional judgment' is a bit vague, no?

Kez100 Wed 11-Sep-13 21:49:51

Professional judgement is a darn sight less vauge than some statistical model which creates an average!

There are only 7 A level grades. Knowing the student and having some AS scores to hand - I'd say professional judgement to pick the grade from those 7 would be most accurate and not in any way vague. It's judgement not sticking a pin in a list.

BeenFluffy Wed 11-Sep-13 23:13:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prettydaisies Wed 11-Sep-13 23:19:19

All DD has said is that, in her school, you will be predicted an A* if you get over 90% in your AS exams.

Professional judgement. Or a multifactorial analysis if you prefer...

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 08:28:48

Yes, of course knowing the student might help.

But some schools use basic Alis which is just an average GCSE score.

DS is very happy with his predictions. But a couple of his friends are dropping from 4 to 3 subjects and the teachers are predicting the same grade they acheived in AS. Seems bonkers to me.

tiggytape Thu 12-Sep-13 08:43:39

It depends - maybe they are working less well now than this time last year, maybe the teachers know the step up to A2 will incorporate more areas that these students are weaker at, maybe the AS grade they achieved was only just scraped and any improvement will still leave them inside the same grade boundaries?

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 08:52:39

BeckAndCall Thu 12-Sep-13 09:59:16

At my DDs school, it is entries on AS results, we are told. We were told in a way that made me think there are no exceptions BUT I have no idea if they ever do make exceptions.

As much as anything, the school's reputation is on the line and they wouldn't want to be seen as deliberately overestimating. And they're pretty close to right most of the time, so far as I know.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 10:03:40

In maths we would certainly not predict higher than AS due to dropping a subject, because the A-level modules are harder than the AS ones so it often evens out. Students sometimes go up or down a grade so we look carefully at how they are doing in Y13, planned resits etc.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 10:17:40

Predicted grades are 50% accurate, roughly.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 10:20:28

But the universities can already see the applicants AS grade, I think the predicted grade should be a little optimistic. So as to encourage the student to fulfill potential rather than plumping for safety. That's also why students should make an aspirationsl choice of university (or more than one) on the UCAS form.

hatsybatsy Thu 12-Sep-13 10:41:43

surely that would waste everyone's time? If a kid is predicted AAA, then he will get university offers accordingly. If the prediction was 'optimistic' and he only gets BBB then he has no university place.

The predictions are meant to be realistic - not sure where your 50% accurate stat comes from?

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 11:27:34

hatsybatsy - but the student might get AAB or even ABB and the AAA offer could easily let them in anyway. This happens A LOT. My son's old independent school predicts a grade up from that achieved at AS (except A* which is discretionary). No wonder independent schools get their kids' bums on seats at the better universities.

Plus, it seems unreasonable not to believe in the capacity for your students to improve and to understand the power of incentive (of having a good university place offer, dangling in front of you).

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 11:35:29

This says that 41.7% of grades were overpredicted. Meaning that believing in a student's capacity to improve or dangling a university place in front of them isn't working, rather is actually causing stress and worry to up to 2 in 5 students who don't get their predicted grades and are possibly thrown into clearing.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 11:43:46

noblegiraffe - don't be dramatic, that's why we have a firm conditional and insurance conditional place.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 11:46:56

51.7% of all predictions were accurate, 41.7% of all predictions were over-predicted by at least one grade, and only 6.6% of all predicted grades were under-predicted.
 Just under 90% of grades were accurately predicted to within one grade.
 A grades were predicted most accurately with 63.8% of A grades having been
accurately predicted.
 C grades were the least accurately predicted with only 39.4% accurately predicted.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 12:03:01

Actually, it's not 2 in 5 students, is it? It's 2 in 5 exam results. Given that students sit 3+ exams each, that means that more students are affected.

So no, I can't support your suggestion of more teachers overestimating predicted grades.

BeckAndCall Thu 12-Sep-13 12:07:08

It's not an independent school thing library - I was talking about an independent school when I quoted the policy above of predicting at AS grade as the rule.

tiggytape Thu 12-Sep-13 12:13:24

A predicted grade should be just that - not an optimistic suggestion as to what could be achieved but at present doesn't look likely. It stands to reason that not all students will receive a higher grade as A Level than at AS level despite having dropped a subject because the step up to A2 in some subjects is dramatic and some students struggle in Year 12 to reach grades that they will more comfortably reach but not exceed in Year 13.

I am not convinced universities reward overly optimistic schools with places for students who fail to meet inflated grades. Surely they would be more understanding of lower-than-predicted-grades from students attending schools known to be very accurate in their assessment of pupils. A lower-than-predicted result there would show a genuine blip whereas a lower-than-predicted result from an ‘optimistic’ school would just reflect true ability and give no special reason to admit them.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 13:12:33

A smaller percentage of university grades were overpredicted 41.7% than were incorrect 48.7% so I don't get your drift.

If a teacher is wrong about the predicted grade, it doesn't matter if they were wrong due to pessimism or optimism. But it may matter to the student.

Anyway, UCAS is a bit of a dog's dinner. Luckily my son got his A grades at AS but then he doesn't have a part-time job like some of his friends who narrowly missed out on the top grade for AS and are therefore denied access to the best universities due tot their predictions.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 13:18:46

They should go and talk to their teacher then. It's quite common for students to come and ask for their predicted grade to be put up because they need it for a certain university. Usually we ask for some sign of renewed dedication, plans to get a tutor, give up job etc, then bump the grade on the understanding that they need to make sure that their insurance offer covers their original prediction,

Thu 12-Sep-13 15:54:00

LibraryBook Are you suggesting that not having a part time job improves grades?
I really cannot see that it's in the student's interest to inflate their grade prediction. They might just get a higher offer than they would have done with a truer prediction.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 16:33:27

secretscwirrels - universtities at the top end have a range of standard offers. A*AA or AAA including further maths, that sort of thing. If you're predicted ABB, you aren't going to get an offer. But interestingly if you are given an AAA including further maths offer, but narrowly miss, and achieve, let's say, ABB, they might let you in. I'm certain it's why independent schools have better success at admissions to Sutton Trust universities.

How dare ordinary kids have aspirations eh?

Thu 12-Sep-13 17:20:33

I don't think it's as straightforward as that though. If you take the example of getting an AAA offer, achieving AAB and being accepted, you risk struggling to keep up.

Bristol uni engineering require A*AA, reduced to AAA if further maths is included. However, their average UCAS point score per student is 515 points (Guardian League table). That's the equivalent of A* A* A at A2 and 2xA at AS level.

A student with AAB at A2, and 1xA at AS has 400 UCAS points.

Thu 12-Sep-13 17:22:04

What are Sutton Trust unis? I thought Sutton trust was for the under privileged?
I think the top unis require STEP for Maths degrees which is considered a better measure of mathematical ability so they will sometimes let you in if you do well at STEP but miss the A* in FM.

Thu 12-Sep-13 17:30:16

Oops, just reread your post, you're actually suggesting that said student might get the offer of a place on A*AA course with an actual score of ABB! Not even AAB.

I think that is very unlikely

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 17:44:42

JGB - no that's not what I said. I said the holder of an AAA offer including further maths could under some circumstances be let in if they narrowly missed the grade. In face on maths degrees, Newcastle will assure you of your place if you get AA in maths and further maths so you could reasonably fail any other bits of the offer.

And ha ha ha at not keeping up. Having a few more ums marks doesn't necessarily make someone brighter. Sorry but it just doesn't work like that.

hatsybatsy Thu 12-Sep-13 18:11:23

ah ok. it's clearer now. your son has not been predicted the grades he would need to apply to a top flight university....

His teachers are the ones who know his academic ability best you know. part time job or not.

callamia Thu 12-Sep-13 18:20:21

In my experience, a startling amount of predicted grades are over-optimistic, which means a lot of students disappointed on results day. This year seemed particularly bad.

Universities won't work only from predicted grades - AS levels are also a reasonable indicator, unless there's a good reason why they were lower than the predicted grades.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 18:28:20

hatsybatsy - eh?

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 18:32:07

callamia - yes I agree, the universities can already see the AS grades.

Luckily for him, my son doesn't have a job.

SlowlorisIncognito Thu 12-Sep-13 20:02:19

LibraryBook Please bear in mind that every year people do get rejected from university places that they have missed by just one or two grades. Many students hoping for places at a top university don't actually include a sensible insurance choice, and have no choice lower than AAA grades. Therefor, it's not as simple as saying overpredict, and if the predictions are wrong then they will still get a place.

I think an AS+1 prediction is fair enough if the student is close to the grade boundary and has shown the teachers that AS was a wake-up call, and they are prepared to work harder at A2. It shouldn't be standard though. A2 is harder than AS, so it's not guarenteed to go up a grade. Predicting any more than AS+1 can actually harm an application, as some universities consider this an unrealistic prediction (unless the teacher can justify it, e.g. via extenuating circumstances).

Schools/colleges can build up a reputation with universities where they regularly send pupils, and they don't want this reputation to be one for unrealistic predicted grades, as it may disadvantage future applicants from their school.

To be honest, it would make much more sense if everyone applied to university after a gap year with the actual grades they have achieved.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 20:16:51

SlowisIncognito - Ah that's interesting about schools having accuracy reputations with universities. Are there any statistics kept do you know?

Blissx Thu 12-Sep-13 20:35:12

Blimey, you seem very harsh, LibraryBook and conveniently ignore the fact I said predicting grades is usually a combination of things as you abviously have a bee on your bonnet about this and wanted to jump on anything teachers put forward. On the one hand, you want predicted grades to follow a 'formula', as teachers cannot have professional judgement, but on the other hand, all students should be treated as individuals, should they not? We can't win!

I would feel worse giving a student false hope and have them waste one of their 5 UCAS options, which would happen if we gave a blanket 'one grade up from AS to all' rule. Yes, it works for some students but not for others. Hence my school considers all students individually. Where do you get your 50% statistic from?

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 20:56:08

Blissx - Sorry to appear harsh. But it is a bit peculiar that there is no uniform way of predicting grades, some use GCSE grades, some use AS grades, some use AS Grades plus 1, some use discretion, some a combination of all of those things. It's a decision that has a huge and life-defining impact on the student and the predictions are only correct 50% of the time, so there isn't much in the way of accuracy to preserve.

I wonder if it might be better for students to predict their own grade and fine them for inaccuracy.

My godson improved his grades from DDCE to get AAB and is off to Birmingham in a week or two. It isn't that abnormal.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 21:52:18

Er yes, that is abnormal. He'd have pretty much had to resit his AS to go from a D to an A, and now that January modules have gone, that would mean sitting all resits and A-level exams in June of Y13.

D to A is very unusual.

BackforGood Thu 12-Sep-13 22:15:28

Really, you are not "trying to understand" at all are you ?
Lots of knowledgeable people have explained, and you just argue with them all.
Not sure why you are continually trying to convince yourself that it's better for a 6th former not to have any work experience, either

DDCE to AAB is exceptionally abnormal, i have never known a student achieve that. As Y13 is harder than y12 i generally say to students if they work as hard in y13 as in y12 then they will achieve 1 grade lower. If they up their game then they will stay on the same grade, they need to work significantly harder to move up a grade and ime that is very rare. This is all assuming they drop from 4 to 3 subjects.

LibraryBook Thu 12-Sep-13 23:57:28

Backforgood - what do you mean about the work experience?

Perhaps it depends on the school. At an academically selective boys' school there's a lot of pulling up by bootstraps after AS, and a lot of grade increases. Perhaps that doesn't happen much in non-selective maintained schools.

We have grade increases in my non selective school. Most of my year 13s improved by a grade on A.

DDCE in a selective school would presumably be a significant underachievement, so where there is a real problem with year 12 results in such a school, I suppose such a marked increase might be more likely.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 00:17:08

It's probably also fairly subject dependent. Also maths builds on cumulative knowledge, so that going back and resitting C1 having grappled with C3 and C4 is perfectly possible, without any extra work really. This would not be possible in History, say, where you may be entirely done with the Tudors or whatever.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 00:26:31

As only 50% of predictions are accurate, perhaps it's better if teachers predict only half of the results and the student predicts the other half?

I suspect some teachers are much better than others at it. It would be good if we could see their individual accuracy stats.

Dominodonkey Fri 13-Sep-13 00:32:33

libray

No idea why you are asking teachers this. Every one of your posts suggests you think you know everything already.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 00:48:28

Dominodonkey you shouldn't have bothered name changing.

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 07:42:20

At an academically selective boys' school there's a lot of pulling up by bootstraps after AS, and a lot of grade increases. Perhaps that doesn't happen much in non-selective maintained schools.

Indeed, in my bog standard comp we encourage them to work hard from the start of Y12 instead, so that they achieve their full potential at AS.

I'm a maths teacher, btw, and simply going back and resitting C1 would be extremely unlikely to raise a D to an A. Also, if they were crap at the non-calc stuff, then doing C3 and C4 won't help.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 08:35:51

noblegiraffe - do you also teach further maths?

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 08:38:33

"Indeed, in my bog standard comp we encourage them to work hard from the start of Y12 instead, so that they achieve their full potential at AS."

Quite. Parents need to realise that ASes are 50% of the final marks, and think through the consequences of that. This isn't the 1980s. These aren't old A Levels. For maths, it's not like doing OA or AO maths at the end of the lower sixth as a check-point. C1 and C2 provide precisely as many UMS points as C3 and C4.

In order to pull up your overall result by working harder in Y13, you need to score two extra UMS in Y13 for every one extra UMS you need overall: on average, you will need to improve by two grades in order to get one grade better overall.

BackforGood Fri 13-Sep-13 08:46:11

Library - you seem to be almost boasting that your ds hasn't got experience of holding down a part time job and all that entails. Personally, I'd see that as a really positive thing on a young person's CV

Interesting what they do with statistics though - in the selective school near here, if they haven't got at least B in every AS, then they have to leave - they are not allowed to go into the 2nd year, so naturally, if you are then looking at % grades at the end of Yr13, the pupils who were allowed to stay on are all quite likely to get a handful of A or A*s, as they've not allowed all the pupils to actually finish their A levels.

Fri 13-Sep-13 09:17:43

library I have just left a job in an academically selective school as a maths teacher. DDCE would be considered a massive underachievement by any student there. This is because of the grades they need to enter the 6th fom and how this impacts on their minimum target grades. For a student who has massively underachieved at AS if they pull themselves together then they could turn it around like the example you gave. However for the record this is still an unusual situation.

We find that the students we teach that needed to retake didn't do as well in general as those that didn't. The extra time they spent revising for their retake modules greatly affected their current learning in Y13. They are also all told from the start of y12 that what they do that year will be the biggest influence when applying to uni as we will base our references on their work ethic and achievement in year 12, not what they tell us they might do in year 13.

As I said earlier we apply a formula to our students based on their AS grades to start and then go through each invidividual student and consider all sorts of things, the things that have already been listed above by very many teachers. If we are borderline we will tend to predict the higher grade, but make it clear to the student that we feel they are borderline and that they need to consider that when applying to universities.

What is a 'Sutton Group Uni'? Did you mean Russell Group?!

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 09:24:35

"My godson improved his grades from DDCE to get AAB"

With resits, presumably (even with 100% UMS in the A2 papers at the end of Y13, that wouldn't be sufficient).

Much harder now, as January 2013 was the last opportunity to take module resits other than in the summer.

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 09:28:10

Library my school does, I don't personally. It's dead man's shoes to get to teach it

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 09:41:12

BackforGood - You've misunderstood. I was just saying my son doesn't have a part-time job to worry about, so has had no excuse not to get good grades (which he did). His best friend works 4 evenings a week in a supermarket and got Bs at AS. He would like to be predicted A grades and feels he can get As if, among other things, he gives up his part-time job. But his teacher is rigidly sticking to the B predictions.

I've never heard a school kicking an A level student out for not getting a B grade at AS. That sounds a little extreme. (Can you name the school?) But I know kicking out or at least not being able to continue happens at D grades and lower in some schools.

Fri 13-Sep-13 10:19:44

What backforgood said is true.
This article was entitled "we shoot a few just to encourage the others".
It's about how many selective and independent schools maintain their position in the league table.

The most selective private and state schools are increasingly using public exams to weed out their worst-performing pupils, forbidding them from returning in September,

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 11:01:07

Maybe the teacher believes that with teaching qualifications and experience of teaching A-level that their professional judgement of whether DS's friend can get an A should not be overridden by what DS's friend with no experience of A2 reckons he can get.

I can see their point.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 11:37:50

noblegiraffe - yes, of course I see that point too. But there is no professional judgment attached in this case. It is school policy to predict the achieved AS grade for A2. Final.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 11:38:40

Which would suggest that nobody ever changed their grade between AS and A2.

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 11:47:24

Statistically, predicting a B from a B is the safest bet. In fact a B is more likely to drop to a C than it is to go up to an A

See page 4.

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 12:22:47

"I've never heard a school kicking an A level student out for not getting a B grade at AS. That sounds a little extreme. (Can you name the school?)"

www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/forum/11plus/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=28405&start=10

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 12:23:49

noblegiraffe - if you look at the 2009 graph. If you got a D at AS in 2009, it was statistically more likely to move up one or two grades than it was to stay the same, and much more likely to move upwards than downwards.

And what you say of B grades is of course correct, but it is also true that a third of B grades to elevate. That's not to be sniffed at is it?

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 12:31:17

do elevate, not to elevate.

I've just emailed that link to the boy's mother, it is actually very encouraging. Performance between AS and A2 isn't fixed.

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 12:32:57

"If you got a D at AS in 2009,"

2009 is another country. Because there were still January resits, and January modules. There are no more January exams. So in 2009, you could take C1 in JanY12, C2 in JunY12, C3 in Jany13 and C4 in JunY13. If you wanted to resit, you would thus be able to do it a few months after completing study, alongside one other module.

Now, someone who is not working at a sufficient level will not know their C1 or C2 result until they've taken both at the end of Y12, and their first opportunity to resit one or both (most likely both) will be alongside C3 and C4 at the end of Y13. That's a substantially harder task that for previous cohorts, especially as people tend not to just do badly in one AS. and therefore will have similar issues in other subjects as well.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 12:46:18

Yes, good point. I don't know how that will work out. But perhaps it will be neutral in that there was previously lots of resitting going on, even at the A and B grades.

Do the grade boundaries lower if there are fewer students scoring very high marks?

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 12:50:05

"Do the grade boundaries lower if there are fewer students scoring very high marks?"

Not necessarily, no. A Levels haven't been norm-referenced since the 1990s. It might be seen as grounds to look at the criterion-referencing, so might trigger discussion when deciding the scaling from raw to UMS, but unlike in the past there is no defined proportion of the cohort who will get particular grades.

titchy Fri 13-Sep-13 13:01:04

Library, almost by definition a re-sit is going to produce a higher mark - they know what to expect and how hard they need to work. Coupled with the fact that exams and resits were spread across the year made it much easier to improve a low AS.

That isn't possible anymore, and although I'd guess a re-sit taken at the end of year 12 would also produce higher grades on average, it would almost certainly be at the expense of the A2 exams so the overall grade at A2 would be unlikely to go up now.

And who only knows what will happen in a few years when AS's don't exit

titchy Fri 13-Sep-13 13:01:43

Sorry a resit taken at the end of year 13

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 13:13:26

If you got a D at AS in 2009, it was statistically more likely to move up one or two grades than it was to stay the same, and much more likely to move upwards than downwards.

That's probably due to students who are unlikely to improve on their D grade dropping the subject, so you are left with the more hopeful D grade students, IYSWIM.

And what you say of B grades is of course correct, but it is also true that a third of B grades to elevate. That's not to be sniffed at is it?

Where did you get a third from? I can see nearly 20% going from a B to A/A*, not a third. As mentioned, that would have been in a year with more resit opportunities than now, too. When there were January modules we spent time carefully analysing UMS totals and advising students on a borderline to resit select earlier, lower scoring modules in the hope of tipping them over into the next grade. Without those January results, we're flying blind.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 13:17:30

If grades fall across the board, perhaps the removal of the cap on AAB students will be lowered to include BBB students. Although prospectuses for 2014 are asking for A*AA-AAB for RG universities, which would suggest that lots of places may remain unfilled, come results day.

ontheallotment Fri 13-Sep-13 13:21:30

"Do the grade boundaries lower if there are fewer students scoring very high marks?"

I think they may do. Since a year or two ago something called 'comparable outcomes' rather than criterion referencing has been used to set grade boundaries. This is supposed to ensure that a year group isn't disadvantaged or advantaged compared to previous year groups especially when there is a syllabus or exam structure change. So if they use the same methodology this year, the final grades should be similar to before even without the resits. But there may be some political pressure to reduce them.

titchy Fri 13-Sep-13 13:22:05

It's ABB now library. And it won't be lowered to BBB in the near future.

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 13:23:31

"Although prospectuses for 2014 are asking for A*AA-AAB for RG universities, which would suggest that lots of places may remain unfilled, come results day."

You really don't have much of an idea how this stuff works, do you?

Fri 13-Sep-13 13:25:28

noblegiraffe It's dead man's shoes to get to teach it Off topic slightly but is that really true? I thought there was a shortage of FM teachers?
DS1 is aiming to teach FM.

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 13:26:56

Grade boundaries change according to the difficulty of the paper. They decide how difficult the paper is in part by looking at how students actually did on it compared to how they were expected to do. So yes, if fewer students than expected score high marks, this could lower the grade boundaries.

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 13:35:09

secret I meant at my school it's dead man's shoes. I expect if I changed schools I could find one that would be happy to let me teach it. In my department, I've been teaching 8 years and am the least experienced, so well down the list. My maths department is pretty unusual though.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 15:27:50

friday16 - Of course I know how it works. I'm just saying it would be absolutely absurd if grades fell hugely and universities were thus unable to fill their programmes. There has to be a bit of a fit between A level results and university admissions.

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 15:35:53

"I'm just saying it would be absolutely absurd if grades fell hugely and universities were thus unable to fill their programmes"

Why do you believe that a fall in grades would result in universities being unable to fill their programmes? Do you believe that universities are unable to, and indeed do not (a) offer or (b) confirm at below the general offers listed in the prospectus?

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that A2 results dropped by two grades between now at October 2014. Do you think that (a) universities would just confirm places for students holding firm offers but who missed their grades (b) universities would take unfilled places into clearing and accept whatever grades were going or (c) universities would shrug their shoulders and lose huge piles of money? Reality is (a) for universities holding a lot of firms, and (b) for universities holding a lot of insurances. (c) will never happen again. The situation with Southampton (and others) last year was because of misplaced machismo about "we're so popular we never go into clearing". This year, the entire Russell Group went into clearing, and announced it before results were published.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 15:38:42

titchy - yes, I meant ABB, thanks. But there was some discussion about it being lowered to BBB.

and this

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 15:40:37

friday - eh? That is what I've been saying.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 15:45:52

friday16 - The entire Russell Group didn't go into clearing. The following Russell Group universities had no need to enter clearing in 2013 Ox, Camb, Imperial, LSE, UCL, Bristol.

Fri 13-Sep-13 15:52:51

Not really sure what this thread was aimed at but I do have a question for teachers....

Recent stats show that students in R group unis have a lower average UCAS tarrif than students from state schools. The obvious implication is that indy schools over predict more than state.

Similarly there is good evidence that gender bias, and race bias occur (eg girls doing physics don't get the same predictions as boys and ethnic minorities do badly for predictions across the board.

The question is what can be done about it?

We (admissions tutors) can't ignore predicted grades, we can't bias against students from indy schools our hands are tied....so how can we fix this and start getting better diversity in RG unis?

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 16:01:30

Independent schools are actually more accurate at predicting grades than maintained schools.

And UCAS tarriff is not a very good guide. An A in A level further maths for example is worth the same UCAS points as an A in general studies when you are implying to Imperial for Physics.

RG universities don't admit using UCAS points tariff, normally, they ask for specific grades, often in specific subjects.

titchy Fri 13-Sep-13 16:28:38

Library the THES and Which may want to discuss lowering SNC to BBB but HEFCE have been told not to, and until we get a change in Gov and policy BBB unlikely.

RG having lower tariff than others - haven't seen the data (source?) but RG applicants don't have as big a need to put down all their grade 8s. They may well also take more students with non-tariff qualifications - overseas or the pre-u for example.

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 16:31:47

Indy schools are 'better' at predicting grades not because of any special skill but because they predict more A/A* grades due to selective intake and these are easier to predict. State schools are good at predicting the top grades too.

titchy Fri 13-Sep-13 16:37:48

Actually look at the league tables and order by entry standards, Oxbridge imperial etc right at the top!

Dominodonkey Fri 13-Sep-13 17:42:19

Please don't make unfounded accusations op. I have only ever had one user name and this is it.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 18:21:32

Dominodonkey - sorry.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 18:27:13

titchy - what ARE you talking about? NObody said RG have a lower tariff. Of course the better unis have higher entry standards. But it is possible that someone could have 750 UCAS points (more than most of those doing medicine at Oxford) and not have a hope in hell of receiving a RG offer let alone an offer from Oxford. You must get that? What is your degree from by the way, and what subject?

titchy Fri 13-Sep-13 19:12:56

Icebeing said RG students have lower tariff in her15.52 post.

titchy Fri 13-Sep-13 19:15:10

If the rest of your post is directed at me I agree with you RG entry standards (and tariff scores of entrants) is much higher!

Not sure why my (or any other posters') degree or alma mater is relevant.

LibraryBook Fri 13-Sep-13 20:03:36

titchy - I'm just wondering what it is you teach?

noblegiraffe Fri 13-Sep-13 20:05:08

Why are you asking? I wondered why you asked me if I teach further maths earlier!

Fri 13-Sep-13 21:06:58

I said that students admitted to RG unis have different grades depending on what sort of school they came from. The implication being that it is 'easier'to get in if you come from an independent school. It is also 'easier' to get in if you are male and white (to physics anyway).

This has nothing to do with the difficulty of the offer (we offer A*AA to everyone essentially) it has to do with us being more likely to select people with higher predicted grades. Given a bunch of students who all actually got A*AA, the Indy students had higher predicted grades than the state school...the men had higher predicted grades than the women and the ethnic minorities had lower predicted grades than everyone else.

This is likely at least in part down to bias on the part of teachers predicting grades (either conscious or unconscious).

Does that make it clearer?

BeckAndCall Sat 14-Sep-13 09:05:56

I find your analysis fundamentally flawed, icebeing for a number of reasons including:

As an admission tutor at an RG university you do have the ability to make contextual offers if you feel grades are over or under predicted in one group of applicants - in many courses the stated admissions criteria shows a range;

Your argument is based on the assumption that independent schools DO over predict - and several people on here, myself included, have illustrated that their schools use only the AS grades as a predictor and do not inflate - so there is no cross sector pattern;

Your argument that a male makes stand more chance of getting on a physics course flies completely in the face of the Women in Science initiative which is moving the dial on that statistic - which is in any way majorly affected by the number of applicants in the group, rather than differential offers within the group;

And it ignores the fact that many students in independent schools are already predicted to over achieve the offers made to them ( eg achieving A*AA against an AAB offer) whereas the average achievement in state schools is lower, so students arriving from state school are more likely to have hit the offer spot on. So that's why they have lower average grades - not because it was harder to get an offer in the first place.

But is is very hard to generalise about 24 universities offering thousands of courses to tens of thousands of students, so anybody else's take on the situation is just as likely to be valid as mine. And there's a whole industry out there trying to analyse all of these things one way or another and I just don't accept that it's clear cut.

DalmationDots Sat 14-Sep-13 15:28:33

My DD was at a top 10 girls academic independent school, her AS grades were AABB (later -post predictions- one of the Bs was remarked and changed to an A)
She was predicted A*AC, got 5 russell group offers for courses which had entry requirements of AAB. So the schools (at the time realistic) prediction of a C did not seem to harm her. She came out with AAB in the end.
When on the course she has found her and her friend's offers varied greatly. Some being offered BBB, others offered AAA or A*AA.

DD asked her tutor at uni out of curiosity and was told the tutors adjust considering what school you go to (e.g. if it is a poor state school in a deprived area your offer will be lower), how much they want you, other circumstances (DD had personal family circumstances which impacted her AS exams causing the predicted C grade). Her uni and course is great on accessibility and recognising the importance of a varied set of students. Other unis may do things a lot more systematically and 'to the book' e.g. all AAA offers.

Sat 14-Sep-13 18:37:42

Yes we can make contextual offers..to individuals who seem to have potential beyond what they are currently achieving. But that is a one off thing and something to be considered when the school is really bad or there are other mitigating circs.

The real problem is looking at all the people being predicted AA*A versus those being predicted A*AA etc. We can't assume that a triple A* prediction from and indy school is worth the same as an A*AA from a state school even though they may well be in reality.

It is a known and accepted fact that teachers under predict more for women than men in physics. So not really interested in any reasons why that wouldn't be true. It IS true as found by comparing predicted grades with achieved grades.

Similarly I saw several predictions from indy schools that were algebraically impossible given the AS grades....not any from state schools. So not everyone is predicting directly from AS grades....

Sat 14-Sep-13 18:39:30

bollocks the bold system screwed up my message!

What I mean is that people predicted triple A star from an indy school actually get the same number of points as people predicted A star, A, A from a state school...

titchy Sat 14-Sep-13 18:49:05

Interesting, although you presumably that observation is only based on the very top applicants given your standard offer. Do you know if it's true of lower grades?

Would you say state predictions are more accurate than indi ones?

Sat 14-Sep-13 18:58:25

My personal experience is that indy seem over optimistic and state are pessimistic...

I saw people with UMS grades above 95% that hadn't been predicted A star (90%)...again only from state...I don't know why that happens...

Institutes of physics (IOP) know perfectly well that equally achieving women get lower average predictions than their male counterparts....but again there is no way we can do anything in admissions....we certainly can't start positively discriminating.

Cerisier Sun 15-Sep-13 05:05:35

This is a good argument for Y13 sitting exams in April, getting results in June then applying to uni. In the days of internet and computers why does the same system still hold that we had with UCCA years ago?

Without AS exams there would be 5 terms of teaching, which is probably more than they have now.

friday16 Sun 15-Sep-13 09:12:29

This is a good argument for Y13 sitting exams in April, getting results in June then applying to uni.

Or later; another proposal was to delay Freshers by a couple of weeks, take advantage of more IT (as you say, the process is now all online so should be quicker) and do it from exams in May, results in July. I did read the universities' response the last time it was proposed, but I can't now recall all their objections. Running a full admission process over the summer would be difficult for universities that interview, of course.

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