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Can anyone explain GCSE grade allocations to me please?

(8 Posts)
Pennies Thu 08-Oct-09 20:13:43

Why are so many children getting A* these days?

Am I right in thinking that it isn't the case that a score of, say 70% is an A, 60% is B and 50% is a C, but in actual fact that a random top 10% get A* even if the highest score in that top 10% is only 50%?

Or are the exams just so easy that even I could get an A.

2Shoots Thu 08-Oct-09 20:18:14

YEs to your first statement.

duckyfuzz Thu 08-Oct-09 20:19:56

the exam board allocate standardised marks to the papers and within those marks there are set ranges for each grade, so a paper might be out of 40 but have 50 uniform marks allocated to it, to the range for an A on the uniform scheme could be 45-50 but that might correspond to 30-40 on the paper itself, so basically yes you are right!

Pennies Thu 08-Oct-09 20:26:07

But doesn't that make it all a load of bolleaux then? How has this been allowed to become the case?

Are there alternative qualifications available equivalent to GCSE's and A'levels that give a better representation of ability?

wicked Thu 08-Oct-09 20:30:03

I think, roughly, that the grades are awarded to clear boundaries (80, 70, 60% etc), but that the actual boundaries may deviate by 1 or 2% depending on the actual scores of the cohort.

If they are doing module exams, the differnce may be just 1 or 2 marks for the paper.

amicissima Sat 10-Oct-09 22:13:50

IGCSEs (International GCSEs) are probably the closest equivalent. Their standard is considered to be reasonably stable and, being international, they are not subject to government interference.

Presumably IB is roughly comperable to A Level (although it has a very different structure).

musicposy Mon 12-Oct-09 18:38:50

We are doing mostly iGCSEs because we are home educators and they are mainly exam only, there's either no coursework or there's an exam alternative.

They are much, much harder than the few GCSEs we are doing. Much more like what I did for O level at school (shows age). Apparently some private schools are going over to them for this reason.

snorkie Mon 12-Oct-09 19:53:36

The conversion to a Uniform Mark Scheme (UMS) became necessary when exams became modular. So, for example, in science GCSE children can take (or retake) papers either in January or June over a two year (or even more) period before 'cashing in' the all the results to get their GCSE. Since it's entirely likely that some of the papers might turn out to be slightly easier than others the raw scores are converted to UMS scores which have the fixed boundaries for the grades (90%=A*, 80%=A etc).

The actual raw scores needed to get A*s etc are sometimes ridiculously low. For example, last summer's AQA science 1 papers (higher), raw marks out of 45 needed for A*,A,B,C,D were:

biology: 34,31,26,21,16
chemistry: 32,29,23,17,11
physics: 32,28,22,16,11

The actual marks needed for each grade if you'd sat these papers in January or the previous summer would be slightly different, but they do all seem rather low to me.

Oh, and if you take the difference between A and A* scores and add that to the score needed to get an A*, then that result or higher is said to be 100%! (So for Chemistry in the above example, a score of 35/45 or more would be deemed to be 100% UMS)

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