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A Level Exam boards (Mathematics)

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by MathematicianBatman, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. MathematicianBatman

    MathematicianBatman New commenter

    Hello all - first post!!
    I am currently looking into which exam board to choose for our newly approved 6th form
    I have specs for OCR OCR/MEI EDEXCEL and AQA (some light xmas reading)
    but im really interesting in the communities experience of teaching the specs.....
    At the minute having looked through them all i feel that MEI is my preference running a structure like this....
    Year 12 Jan Exam: C1
    Year 12 June Exams: C2 and M/S1
    Year 13 Jan Exam: D1
    Year 13 June Exam C3 and C4 (studying C3 content before C4)
    Any opinions/suggestions on this route through the 2 years is very welcome!!
    Anybody do anything similar ? or totally different?
    I think MEI offers an alevel a little more heavily loaded towards the end - the content of C1 i think gives skills and refines others giving students a good prep for C2/C3/C4
    but i could be wrong..........every now and then ;)
    Thanks in advance for the help !!
     
  2. MathematicianBatman

    MathematicianBatman New commenter

    Hello all - first post!!
    I am currently looking into which exam board to choose for our newly approved 6th form
    I have specs for OCR OCR/MEI EDEXCEL and AQA (some light xmas reading)
    but im really interesting in the communities experience of teaching the specs.....
    At the minute having looked through them all i feel that MEI is my preference running a structure like this....
    Year 12 Jan Exam: C1
    Year 12 June Exams: C2 and M/S1
    Year 13 Jan Exam: D1
    Year 13 June Exam C3 and C4 (studying C3 content before C4)
    Any opinions/suggestions on this route through the 2 years is very welcome!!
    Anybody do anything similar ? or totally different?
    I think MEI offers an alevel a little more heavily loaded towards the end - the content of C1 i think gives skills and refines others giving students a good prep for C2/C3/C4
    but i could be wrong..........every now and then ;)
    Thanks in advance for the help !!
     
  3. My first post as well!
    We changed from Edexcel to MEI 2 years ago, and prepare students for C1 in January Y12, and thereafter S1 and C2 in June.
    MEI C3 has a piece of coursework in Numerical Methods, which our students complete after the summer exams in Y12, and they then sit C3 in January of Y13. They sit M1 or S2 together with C4 in the summer. C4 has a diagnostic section which is apart from the main paper, but examined at the same time.
    It works well for our school, and we get great results. Students like the two sections in the S1/M1 and Core modules; Section A has short direct questions, and Section B longer more developed questions.
    Edexcel was also fine, (I mark A level modules for Edexcel; Core, Stats and Mechanics) but I'm pleased we changed.
    In addition, the MEI website is fantastic, (and not just for MEI modules)!

     
  4. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    We do MEI. I've no experience of other boards although I'm routinely told that MEI is harder. I like the textbooks and the online resources are superb. An example of the sort of support which could develop when governments leave us alone for sufficiently long (unlike at GCSE). Long may that continue... We currently do C3 and C4 in the summer of A2 and M1 in January of A2, since we want students to have a chance of retaking it. What are your M1 results like with the exam taken in the final exam session, Scraggy? We've always preferred to allow students a chance to retake M1.
     
  5. Looking at these two approaches, the advantage of doing the second applied module in Jan Y13 is that the content will be easier than C3's. The advantage of doing C3 is that the teaching of it will still be fresh(er) from the post-exam summer term and winter term, and also that students at the top end will be able to make some judgement about what they need to get for an A* overall (or if they need to re-sit C3).
    The Numerical Methods module is handy in the OCR MEI scheme because it dovetails with aspects of C3 but is an AS Further module, allowing (say) FP1, M1, NM as a combination for AS Further.
    Anyway, I hope you come to a decision you are happy with [​IMG]
    Kevin (currently seconded from the OCR Maths team)
     
  6. DM

    DM New commenter

    Do you believe this to be true? You are suggesting Ofqual have failed to ensure the examinations for each Awarding Body are of comparable difficulty.
     
  7. 'I've no experience of other boards although I'm routinely told that MEI is harder.

    'If that is the case, why would any school offer it? Perhaps it has features that other qualifications lack.
     
  8. Many of our students also take Physics A level, so M1 is pretty straightforward for them, and our results (in the main) are very good. In any case S2 is also an option, and it follows very well from S1, as well as a useful module for AS FM.
    I have made a huge effort in the last 3/4 years to get away from a module retake culture, and encourage (push very hard!) students to get it right first time. As a result, our overall results have improved year on year at A2.
    I will add that I don't agree with MEI being harder (or easier) than any other board. They are all very much the the same - they have to be - with minor variations in individual module style and content.
     
  9. The most recent Ofqual review of A Level Maths standards was in 2007. Some of it is below - the OCR specification referred to is the 7890 suite, not MEI, but we are mandated to ensure our two specifications are equally demanding of candiates.

    Performance at GCE AS grade A across the awarding bodies in 2007
    The performance of candidates was broadly comparable across all awarding bodies at this grade boundary.
    Performance at GCE AS grade E across the awarding bodies in 2007
    The performance of candidates was broadly comparable between CCEA, Edexcel and OCR at this grade boundary. However, AQA candidates were judged to be stronger, while WJEC candidates were generally found to demonstrate weaker performance. While the performance of WJEC candidates was often comparable to candidates from other awarding bodies in the statistics unit, reviewers judged that WJEC candidates showed less breadth and depth of knowledge and skills on C1 and C2, where their performance was often inconsistent. Reviewers commented that AQA candidates tended to show a wider range and greater depth of knowledge and skills on C1 and in particular C2. Reviewers also noted that the AQA question papers were more structured and that this made them more accessible to weaker candidates, allowing them to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills. However, it must be noted that reviewers judged the structuring to be excessive and thus not providing adequate evidence of candidates' ability to produce rigorous mathematical arguments (AO2).
    Performance at GCE A level grade A across the awarding bodies in 2007
    The performance of candidates was broadly comparable across Edexcel, OCR and WJEC at this grade boundary. However, AQA candidates were judged to be stronger, while CCEA candidates were generally found to demonstrate weaker performance. Reviewers commented that AQA candidates showed consistently greater range and depth of knowledge and understanding across all units, and particularly on the mechanics unit. CCEA candidates demonstrated less secure and sophisticated knowledge, and their performance was less consistent across all areas, in particular the mechanics unit. Reviewers judged that the performance of AQA candidates was enhanced by the highly structured question papers, which offered candidates considerable support. By contrast, they considered that the CCEA question papers were demanding in that they contained more unstructured questions, requiring candidates to construct their own extended arguments. These findings reflect the conclusions of the syllabus review, which noted an increase in the scaffolding of questions in AQA papers, further undermining the requirements of AO2 (construction of mathematical arguments and proofs).
    Performance at GCE A level grade E across the awarding bodies in 2007
    There were no CCEA candidates available at this grade boundary. The performance of candidates was comparable between Edexcel and WJEC. AQA candidates were judged to be stronger, while OCR candidates were found to demonstrate weaker performance. Reviewers commented that AQA candidates were more consistent across a range of topics and that their performance in C3 and especially in M2 was often stronger. Again, reviewers noted that the AQA question papers were more structured than those from other awarding bodies, in particular in M2, and that this enhanced candidates’ performance by giving them more support and making it easier for them to show what they could do. OCR candidates showed less breadth of knowledge and a weaker grasp of basic concepts, especially on the core units, and their work contained more fundamental errors. Reviewers commented that the OCR core units were pitched at a demanding level and had a shallow gradient of difficulty, with relatively few easily accessible marks and that this made the papers especially challenging for weaker candidates.
    Summary
    Comparing standards of performance between 2004 and 2007, reviewers found that at AS grades A and E, standards were comparable for AQA, CCEA and OCR. However, there was evidence of a decline in standards of performance for Edexcel and WJEC candidates over the period, and this decline was particularly marked at AS grade E.
    At A level the picture was rather different. At grade A reviewers found evidence of a general increase in the standards of performance, in particular for OCR and, to a lesser extent, for AQA and WJEC. The performance of CCEA candidates was comparable over the period. At grade E there was evidence of a general and very marked increase in the standards of performance across all awarding bodies between 2004 and 2007, and reviewers attributed this particularly to better performance on the pure mathematics papers.
    Comparing standards of performance across the awarding bodies in 2007, reviewers judged performance to be broadly comparable at AS grade A. At AS grade E, standards of performance were comparable across CCEA, Edexcel and OCR, with AQA candidates judged to be stronger and WJEC candidates weaker. At A level grade A in 2007, standards of performance were comparable across Edexcel, OCR and WJEC, with AQA candidates found to be slightly stronger and CCEA candidates judged slightly weaker. At A level grade E performance was found to be comparable across Edexcel and WJEC, with AQA candidates again found to be slightly stronger and OCR candidates weaker. These findings may have been in part attributable to AQA setting more structured question papers, while CCEA included some challenging and unstructured questions. Overall, reviewers were reassured that syllabus changes between 2004 and 2007 had ensured that standards had generally been maintained at AS and that at A level, the revised schemes of assessment, and in particular the rigorous C4 paper, had allowed candidates to provide more consistent evidence of their mathematical understanding and skills.
     
  10. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    I've no opinion one way or the other - which is why I made it clear that I'm 'routinely told'... and, as you correctly imply, that's no proof of anything. I was once on the receiving end of a big tirade, from a maths teaching parent who wanted to know why we did such a difficult board and didn't do edexcel, since it was so much easier, no coursework etc etc. He had looked at the level of work his daughter was being asked to do and concluded that it was far harder than the stuff he was doing with his students. That's as far as my anecdotal evidence goes.
    I've no issue with the 'difficulty' of MEI. It is perfectly accessible for our students, and we get good results with it. Hence, if it is more 'difficult', I've no doubts that thresholds will compensate.
     
  11. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    I might add that, given the level of scaffolding which goes into A-level questions these days, it would be hard to see how MEI itself could get much easier and still be worthy of an A-level award.
     
  12. MathematicianBatman

    MathematicianBatman New commenter

    some really interesting thoughts - thank you!
    I have made contact with the exam boards about inspection copies of text books and resources etc
    I have so far found AQA to be a little unhelpful
    Their email told me the isbns of textbooks and that they do not have trials or samples that we can look at and nothing else no info on syllabus or content (which i know i can get from the spec) but i thought that a little discussion or info might be nice - i would have thought they would be fighting over a new customer
    I am still leaning towards MEI have seen a few places the 'MEI is harder argument' i think its mainly swings and roundabouts and i am going to pick the best pathway that suits our students development
    Please keep offering advice and anecdotes i am very interested in them all !!
    thanks so far for the contributions
     
  13. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    MEI questions can be quite wordy, meaning that more thought is required before starting them. Coursework is pretty straightforward; MEI resources include a very detailed guide which any capable student can follow to get most of the marks. Their percentage results are similar to other boards, so if they are harder, they must have a stronger cohort.
    I think that the MEI course develops mathematical thinking better. If we were only an exam results factory, I would probably prefer somebody else; as we are not, I am more than happy with MEI.
     
  14. Colleen_Young

    Colleen_Young Occasional commenter

    I'll second what Piranha said and add that many of our students who went on to study Mathematics or other numerate degrees felt that they were very well prepared having studied the MEI course / courses.
    Those who studied MEI Maths & Further Maths found that they had a very strong foundation for their degrees.
     

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