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Anger over AQA GCSE Higher Biology - any info?

(91 Posts)
Abuelita Wed 18-May-16 11:26:56

Twitter erupted yesterday after candidates taking AQA GCSE Unit 1 Higher Biology complained about the exam. One 15 year-old I spoke to said the paper didn't have much to do with biology and wasn't happy. Has anyone else been involved with the fallout?
www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/05/students-take-to-twitter-to-express-anger-about-gcse-biology-paper

Heavens2Betsy Wed 18-May-16 11:33:09

My DS was a bit bemused by it all when he got home last night
He revised so hard but they threw in questions about independent companies and the drinking habits of 15 year olds.
He's not alone - all his friends felt the same, which I suppose is comforting to know.

mummymeister Wed 18-May-16 11:36:19

yep same here. My DC said it bore no relation to the past papers that they have all been spending time on. I think this is being treated as a transition year by the examiners with questions that are more relevant to the new syllabus so that the kids doing exams next year have some relevant past papers to use. just my personal view based on discussions with markers etc.

cestlavielife Wed 18-May-16 11:38:09

dd was amused/bemused but thought the outrage was overdone - so long as you kept your cool about answering the questions...

howtorebuild Wed 18-May-16 11:41:22

We enjoyed the Twitter comments and memes.

littledrummergirl Wed 18-May-16 12:07:27

Ds1 thought it was ok. He is very amused by the outrage though. These kids have a fantastic sense of humour.

shakeyjake Wed 18-May-16 12:10:57

m.youtube.com/watch?v=s0b841aq1UA

shakeyjake Wed 18-May-16 12:12:04

On a serious note though my dd is now really worried as she thinks she hasn't done well and all the questions she had they hadn't even covered or was to do with biology x

Abuelita Wed 18-May-16 12:20:52

shakeyjake - the Biology paper was the first in a series of AQA GCSE Higher science papers. There's still Chemistry and Physics to come. It can't be good for confidence if the candidates begin worrying if the next papers will contain questions which seem unconnected to the actual syllabus.

tiggytape Wed 18-May-16 13:28:37

It sounds very off putting and I'm not surprised it has generated so many complaints.
I'm not sure about transition years argument though - this isn't the last year of these GCSEs. The current Year 10's will do the same exams next year - it is the current Year 9's who will do new science ones (the current Year 10's are only doing new Maths and English).

I read yesterday that the reference to an independent company was supposed to suggest that external testing of results was good practice (so impartial rather than independent). To me, the term "independent company" refers to the business model not how unbiased it might be and I think that most other people would read it that way too.

ShanghaiDiva Wed 18-May-16 13:31:21

Personally I don't think it's a good idea to encourage students to worry about the other papers - worrying achieves nothing.
Perhaps we should consider if questions are related to the syllabus and involved application of knowledge rather that regurgitating facts.
What has happened is over - if generally performance was low then the grade boundaries will reflect this.
It's important as pp said that students keep their cool and apply their knowledge. Very often in life things don't go according to plan and there is no point in becoming indignant about it - adapt and move on - encouraging students to get in a tizz about future exams is not helpful imo.

catslife Wed 18-May-16 14:21:21

Are you the journalist who wrote the article you have linked to OP or are you a parent (or possibly a teacher)?
Agree with tiggy that the transition year argument isn't correct when current Y10s are taking the same GCSE course (and there may possibly be a resit paper later on as well).
I think that shanghai is correct what the pupils are supposed to do is apply what they know to a new (unfamiliar) situation.
They shouldn't worry about future papers as different papers are written by different examiners.

member Wed 18-May-16 14:41:24

Dd1 is Yr 10 and sat the AQA B1 paper yesterday yesterday she said she'd thought she'd done ok but that there was a lot of stuff they haven't been taught.

It was this morning she told me about the independent company question; it seems they were asked what an independent company is rather than why one is used. Not sure about the wording/question of drunk rats/15 year olds questions but have a feeling that the purpose was to interpret data relating to legal & illegal drugs which is part of the syllabus.

member Wed 18-May-16 15:36:59

Dd has confirmed that the question relating to giving rats alcohol was in the context of testing a drug designed to combat alcohol addiction and concedes that the independent company question was covered in the "how science works" unit.

She is of the opinion that a lot of the outrage is bandwagon jumping & that people should move on as they can't change anything now! Pleasantly surprised at her attitude tbh!

Bolograph Wed 18-May-16 16:28:05

One is reminded of the faux-outrage about Hannah's Sweets where you can't help thinking "really? That's a perfectly respectable mid-level GCSE question?"

lljkk Wed 18-May-16 19:13:09

ha! DS mentioned last night that kids in his class were complaining the exam didn't have anything to do with biology.

Except DS felt strongly that it all had everything to do with biology. This is my feckless DS not a teacher's pet. And that his classmates were being silly. From the Qs described to me, I agree with DS. DS also thought the questions were fairly straightforward, that people were expecting more than was there.

NicknameUsed Wed 18-May-16 19:13:50

DD was upset because a lot of the questions didn't seem to cover the syllabus she had learnt. Quite a few relied on common sense rather than hard learning and DD doesn't have a lot of common sense.

kitkat1968 Wed 18-May-16 19:30:35

Sounds like the students wanted to get away with regurgitating facts they have drummed into themselves, rather than exhibiting scientific skills and application.

nailsathome Wed 18-May-16 19:32:41

I am a science teacher and it was actually a really nice paper!

noblegiraffe Wed 18-May-16 20:06:36

AQA have responded to the criticisms of the paper here:

mobile.twitter.com/datateacher/status/732977402163384320

PiqueABoo Wed 18-May-16 20:16:22

I suppose we're stuck with this now e.g. perhaps 100,000 children do some exam and if 1000 of them subsequently complain about it on social media then a handful of places will call it 'news' and represent it as a big, bad universal problem.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 18-May-16 20:22:32

It was fine. In line with the specification.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 18-May-16 21:07:21

Inevitable consequence of social media I think Pique. Probably not a good one for students. We just had a moan about any tricky questions outside the exam room, then moved on. It didn't get splashed all over the papers for days afterwards.

There's no reason pupils shouldn't have known it. It does seem to have been part of the spec.

NicknameUsed Wed 18-May-16 21:25:59

It's all very well saying it was in line with the specification, but DD has done loads of mock exams and past papers and she said that the questions yesterday were completely different and were badly worded and ambiguous. She doesn't think outside the box unfortunately.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 18-May-16 21:32:50

I have taught the spec, and it tested skills that are clearly highlighted. The 2010 GCSEs in Science have always had a strong How Science Works emphasis, rather than rote learning.

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