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In 2005, my General Studies A-Level Essay (under exam conditions) was about abortion!!

(107 Posts)
HoveringKestrel Sat 11-May-13 01:15:07

I couldn't believe it. I'm a male but even I was a thats a bit close.....

I ended up getting an A because, thankfully, I will never have that horrible distressing decision to make, and imagined every thought I could think of, both A and B, and explained them, in turn, like it was an internal debate. But I know I will never have such a burdon.

Now I'm 25, I'm suddenly thinking... What right does the education board have to give that to 18 year olds and judge them????

I'm horrified because there could have been girls in that exam room who may have had to make that decision

CrazyLottie Sat 11-May-13 01:19:47

I don't think it's a bad thing to educate students on matters such as abortion.

gloucestergirl Sat 11-May-13 01:23:45

I think that it was good to get both boys and girls to think about it. It is so easy to ignore and pretend that getting pregnant happens to other people.

AgentZigzag Sat 11-May-13 01:24:18

What's made you think about an exam question you had 8 years ago?

It's unusual, most of people have forgotten the questions before they've crossed the road outside the exam room.

HoveringKestrel Sat 11-May-13 01:25:48

But to judge on the responses they give? The concept is good, but not everyone would have responded so well. Do you not think it was ill judged?

HoveringKestrel Sat 11-May-13 01:26:47

I remember it because it was my A-Levels and was the only A I got.

TheChaoGoesMu Sat 11-May-13 01:26:58

I don't think the education board are judging you. Its just about how well you debate a topic that counts? No?

HoveringKestrel Sat 11-May-13 01:30:11

Maybe the debate argument is correct, but it was general studies.....not philosophy.

ravenAK Sat 11-May-13 01:31:25

Which exam board was it?

HoveringKestrel Sat 11-May-13 01:34:36

AQA I think. Bare in mind it was general studies, so everyone had to take it!!

AgentZigzag Sat 11-May-13 01:38:03

Is it that you're asking whether an exam question ( 8 years ago confused) put the girls taking it at a disadvantage because it was a subject they might have to face in the future?

That they would be too overcome with emotion at the thought of an abortion and what they would do, they were unable to put the points they wanted to make across as well as you did?

It's a bit odd because you've not linked it to anything relevant happening now, in 2013, how it's affecting you/the girls in the exam/wider society.

It's like it's been needling you for 8 years and you've suddenly decided to explore why they chose that particular question.

TheChaoGoesMu Sat 11-May-13 01:42:44

Does it matter that it was general studies rather than philosophy? Surely its still just about looking at every angle of a subject and discussing it? Isn't that what education is about? Getting you to think round the subject matter?

ravenAK Sat 11-May-13 01:44:43

Well, no. It's compulsory in some Sixth Forms to study GS as an enrichment subject (in which case you may as well come out with a qualification), but many Universities don't count it, so the sky would not have fallen if you'd chosen not to attempt that paper.

Why does it make a difference that you're male?

HoveringKestrel Sat 11-May-13 01:46:51

No AgentZigzag I think you have me slightly wrong. I'm not worried how that exam question effected a community, nor am I a saint who is arguing the injustice.

I just think, in retrospect, it was slightly inappropriate.

I got an A so I didn't suffer for it.

But since growing up, I can't help but think it was a slightly idiot topic to judge people on.

Because surely there is no ultimate right answer.

ravenAK Sat 11-May-13 01:48:45

In English Language GCSE, the texts chosen for the Non-fiction paper are deliberately uncontroversial - to the point of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

This is so that no student is disadvantaged in demonstrating their ability to understand/summarise/discuss language use by finding the subject matter alien to their experience, or, alternatively, triggering.

GS is supposed to teach critical thinking & debate of a topical issue.

Also, it's an examination set by adults, in a non-compulsory setting.

ravenAK Sat 11-May-13 01:49:23

sat, not set! Although hopefully set by adults too.

HoveringKestrel Sat 11-May-13 01:49:34

----I should explain that the other option was to discuss a car advert (with illustration) and discuss gender equality.

HollyBerryBush Sat 11-May-13 06:04:04

Those who take language to A Level have to research and understand everything about a place in the country they are studying. I mean everything, from national to local politics, education, health, demographics, labour force, conscription.

The oral examiner may just fling in something bizarre such as 'what effect have teenage pregnancies and abortion rates had in Vladivostok compared to a wider Russia?'

The French A2 oral conversation, choice by candidate, included "the effects today of Nazi Germany and X concentration camp on the province of Y". That was the candidates themed topic. If felt sorry for the oral examiner TBH because the 17yo candidate knew his stuff inside out and it would have been a grim conversation!

What right does the education board have to give that to 18 year olds and judge them????

The examiner isn't judging their morals, but their ability to rationalise, discuss and persuade.

RedHelenB Sat 11-May-13 06:07:28

I think you've missed the point about General Studies - it's not about right or wrong answers but by being well informed and able to present a point of view.

RedHelenB Sat 11-May-13 06:09:21

So someone could argue abortion is terrible or a woman's right & each would get an A as long as they recognised the other point of view and could counter it.

maddening Sat 11-May-13 06:27:46

What has brought this to your mind now so long after the question?

AuntieStella Sat 11-May-13 06:48:06

What was the actual question itself?

raisah Sat 11-May-13 07:51:29

Its not a bad topic to ask a question on as it such an emotive subject which has the ability to divide public opinion. The examiner is looking at the candidates ability to critical analyse the topic, a skill needed for further study. Critical thinking skills is lacking amongst many UG students nowadays.

Booboostoo Sat 11-May-13 07:59:16

I teach philosophy (admittedly at HE level but the point is exactly the same) and that includes a huge number of extremely controvercial issues such as abortion, euthanasia and other wider moral and political issues. The whole point of the assessment is to judge the person's reasoning skills in arriving at their conclusion rather than the conclusion per se.

So in a simplistic world where the question was "Is abortion right or wrong?" (questions are usually much more nuanced), the correct answer is not "yes", "no" or even "maybe", but rather the demonstration of clear reasoning, awareness of the literature, ability to express one's own view, an understanding of how one's own view relates to other views, critical response to objections, etc. If you look at the marking criteria you will see they list thinks like 'clarity', 'independent thinking', etc and not 'agrees with examiner's personal view on topic' or similar!

Dawndonna Sat 11-May-13 08:01:12

Under exam conditions, the right answer is an equal and balanced argument. At A level I wouldn't expect a definitive answer either way, however, if your argument is balanced and backed up with empirical evidence, I would consider giving it a reasonable mark. It's not about who agrees or disagrees, it's about the construction of the argument, how well it holds and is presented and whether or not it is backed by evidence.

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