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to think people should stop complaining that exams are too hard?

(84 Posts)
grimupnorthLondon Thu 19-May-16 13:57:27

DD's school is awash with parents sending angry emails to GCSE exam boards because their kids thought the questions were too hard? There is widespread demanding that 'something must be done'.

I think I'm partly annoyed by the continuation of helicopter parenting, wanting to swoop when a child, even in late teens, faces any challenge. But also there seems to be no understanding of the fact that some things just ARE difficult. If you don't 'get' physics, or you don't 'get' poetry, why should the exam be adapted so that you can pass it? Some people will do less well than others in academic areas (my DD is a very middle of the road performer), but may of course have amazing practical or social skills that will open up other opportunities for them.

In the case of some of the exams being complained about, I know from DD's experience that the teaching was very good and they covered the appropriate syllabus material so it is not a question of the school not preparing them.

Can't we just accept that sometimes things are difficult? That they need to be so that everyone is "stretched" to achieve at their own best level?

Witchend Thu 19-May-16 14:03:22

And also most exams they give a proportion of each grade which doesn't vary. So a harder exam just means a lower mark for each grade boundary.

grimupnorthLondon Thu 19-May-16 14:05:43

Well exactly Witchend (are you a Malcolm Savile fan btw?)

And exams have only just started so still weeks of this 'drama' to go. Am going to hide in the cellar till it's done.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Thu 19-May-16 14:07:44

The trouble is, every parent wants their child to be above average, which of course is impossible.

Some children will do better than others. That's just the way life is.

RaskolnikovsGarret Thu 19-May-16 14:09:25

I agree OP. My DDs find languages and humanities really easy, and sciences and maths hard, so they will usually find exams for the latter harder. Not a problem with the exam though.

grimupnorthLondon Thu 19-May-16 14:15:43

I feel like I'm turning into a Daily-Mail-esque old fart though, worrying about 'standards'. Next thing I'll be having a Boris Johnson rant about how it was better in the old days when we could all recite reams of Latin poetry (and pretend to have written history books...)

TeenAndTween Thu 19-May-16 14:29:29

YANBU. Last year it was 'Hannah's sweets' this year it is 'drunk rats'.

Hannah's sweets didn't phase DD1 last year. She didn't expect to be able to answer all the questions so just missed it out. But ultimately there wasn't anything not on the syllabus, they just merged 2 topics into one question.

SaltyMyDear Thu 19-May-16 14:33:31

I totally agree. The exam is equally hard for everyone,so how is unfair?

Queenbean Thu 19-May-16 14:34:47

I thought we were always being told how much easier exams are now! People have very rose tinted specs don't they

MadameCholetsDirtySecret Thu 19-May-16 14:37:15

It is completely crazy. There have also been treads from university tutors who have had parents interfering.

What do there parents think will happen when their children enter the world of work and things don't go to plan?

Whathaveilost Thu 19-May-16 14:40:16

DS had his biology exam the other day (Tuesday)
He was ok about it but said there was questions that they hadn't covered in class ( he's had 100% attendance and has been going to revision classes after school and at weekends)

He just said some of the questions were more suited to a business or economics exam. Examples he gave was 'what is an independent company' and'what are the benefits of using an independent company?'

He said he was able to answer fully but would have preferred questions on photosynthesis and the like!

acasualobserver Thu 19-May-16 14:40:40

Over time, exams got easier to pass. The 'currency' got devalued. Something had to change. There will be some short-term pain during this 'market correction'.

grimupnorthLondon Thu 19-May-16 14:41:10

Haha what are the 'drunk rats' TeenAndTween.

Maybe Twitter is to blame. I can't remember ever remembering or giving a thought to an exam question once I'd left the room, but now the whole paper gets dissected in public.

TeenAndTween Thu 19-May-16 14:44:57

What I learned last year with science GCSEs, is that there is an awful lot of content, and that every line of the revision guides count.
There may just be an example of e.g. a fresh water indicator species, and that can come up in the exam.
So using independent companies for unbiased research may be almost a throw-away line on a packed page, but you can't actually throw it away, you have to know about it.

princessmi12 Thu 19-May-16 14:45:23

My DS sat biology GCSE Unit 1on Tuesday and told me later on about drunk 15 year olds and rats questions.
I just find it annoying ..On one hand everyone is aware 15 year old can't buy alcohol, on the other AQA suggests 15 year old DO have drinking habits .What message does it send to an average teenager? "Oh the law is there to prohibit underage drinking, but most kids our age DO drink so its not so bad if I join the crowd"...

SunnySomer Thu 19-May-16 14:46:52

But the independent company one surely is scientific. At my DS primary school when they do science experiments they talk about how results could be skewed and why they shouldn't be.....

TeenAndTween Thu 19-May-16 14:47:39

OP, I assumed you were talking about the drunk rats. smile I don't know about them in detail but have been reading about them on the Secondary board.

FarAwayHills Thu 19-May-16 14:47:57

I agree in principle with the idea that exams should be hard and a proper test of students abilities.

However, the exam should also be relevant to the subject and syllabus. I can see why people moan when students and teachers spend so much time and effort studying the curriculum only to be asked something completely random.

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Thu 19-May-16 14:49:48

DS1 sat GCSE biology on Tuesday and said nothing about drunk rats and independent companies. He just said it went ok and he found it easier than he thought it would be (which doesn't mean anything really, as he might have thought he wasn't going to be able to answer anything).

I don't really understand the outrage. They all sat the same paper.

Having read some of the online news coverage, I think people need to get over themselves about the 15 year olds and alcohol. We'd have found that hilarious back in the 1990s; we wouldn't have been petitioning the exam board about being irresponsible in encouraging underage drinking.

Whathaveilost Thu 19-May-16 14:51:05

Maybe sunny

DS wasn't moaning about it but said a lot of people were on social media complaint about the content of the exam to what they had actually been taught over the previous years and he was expecting more biology related questions rather than perhaps a general science one. I would have thought questions about companies and testing would have sat in a different exam rather than biology but hey, what do I know!

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Thu 19-May-16 14:52:25

I agree the independent company question is scientific if you actually read the paper. They don't want a business studies answer. They very clearly want one that shows knowledge of scientific methods.

Whathaveilost Thu 19-May-16 14:54:14

Fair enough, DS seemed happy with his answer.
He was just telling me what questions were on the papers like he has every night so far.

Ginbucket Thu 19-May-16 14:56:25

As a teacher I can tell you no matter how much you prepare your pupils, there will always be questions on the paper that are unlike ones they have practiced before- this is how they test to see whether you understand a topic and that you haven't just memorised exam answers from previous years! It means that you can get a wider spread of marks across a cohort.
I agree op!

arethereanyleftatall Thu 19-May-16 14:57:27

I so agree with you.
So many complaints from parents over GCSEs, sats, 11+, etc because it's too difficult for their child; forgetting totally that they're totally achievable for another child.

grimupnorthLondon Thu 19-May-16 15:17:41

Exactly Ginbucket. I am a university lecturer and am increasingly weary at listening to complaints from students that really amount to "You want me to think for myself!?!? Just tell me the answer".

Seeing the GCSE culture through DD's exams is giving me a strong inkling of where this attitude begins.

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