I couldn’t help but be puzzled when I read last week about students venting their anger at a tricky GSCE maths question. According to reports many of them took to Twitter to criticise the level of difficulty of the question, with the topic so popular it was trending on the social media site by the afternoon.
The exam question that caused such outrage was an equation on the probability of taking two orange sweets from a bag. Some pupils complained it was harder than any of the ones featured in past papers they had used to revise.
There have now been online petitions set up calling on the examination board, Edexcel, to lower the grade boundaries when marking.
Really? Isn’t the whole point of exams to test the abilities of all candidates, to grade them accordingly?
I remember taking my O-levels (eek, yes it was that long ago). As part of the revision process, I used old test papers but never expected to see any of those exact questions in the actual exam.
When I sat the papers, of course, there were some questions that were harder, others easier for which I had prepared. That’s the nature of testing and exams. One doesn’t know what’s going to come up.
I do feel an element of sympathy for the students. The sweet equation question may have been more difficult than expected.
However, it must be extremely tough for exam boards to set questions that test such a wide range of abilities, from an A* student to someone likely to get a U. One paper does not fit all. Exams don’t suit all children.
Far better an education system that allows children to focus on their strengths, whether it be academic, technical or practical.
I’m hoping by the time Master A gets to this stage in his education there will have been a radical overhaul of the system – and pupils will be given equal opportunities to thrive and flourish in whichever areas they excel.
If not, well I’m sure Master A will be the one venting his frustration, too.
Working Mum, not envying the youth of today.