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Chemistry Empa or ISA?

Discussion in 'Science' started by jmcmillan78, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. Possibly less relevant; we're following AQA Physics Spec B and after an unpleasant surprise with our ISA UMS scores we considered the EMPA route. We found the questions were very inaccessible to the students however - even the simpler questions were a mystery to students who'd previously achieved full UMS in the Unit exams.
    I can understand where you're coming from but I'd get hold of some EMPA-style questions and try them out on your students before you commit to it.
  2. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    Any thoughts on the letter that AQA have just sent out to Heads of subject?
  3. Ssn77

    Ssn77 New commenter

    They obviously have been getting complaints about abuse of present system. Didn't the people doing the EMPA only get their topics in February, while those doing the ISA got them in September, so maybe that is being evened out.

    I don't see how giving a smaller window of time to do the tasks in is going to stop people cheating. I overheard one of my students talking to a prospective A level student at an open evening last week. It sounded like they had both been at the same secondary school. She said that you had ISA's in A level science like at GCSE, but they were really hard as the teachers here didn't give you the answers like at GCSE.
  4. mummyofh

    mummyofh New commenter

    the advantage for the EMPA is that you dont actually mark them so it does cut down workload but as you dont know what the grade boudries are like and dont know what grade students are likely to get its very difficult to know if its worthwhile doing another one, unlike the isa where you can do another. We have split the groups, isa for A and B target grades and anyone with c or below for an empa due to the high marks needed for the c and D targets
  5. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    Although not Chemistry this might explain the letter sent out earlier. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10198906/Students-stripped-of-A-level-grades-at-oustanding-college-after-teachers-accused-of-leading-pupils-through-exams.html#disqus_thread

    Surprising that it was the EMPA which was the issue and not the ISA where you get the mark scheme in school.
  6. teo


    I've been wondering the same about whether to swap from ISA to EMPA for A Level Biology. I'm planning to wait until the communication from AQA on the windows for taking the assessments (which will apparently come in September) and then make a decision. The grade boundaries published by AQA today look high again this year for the ISA compared to the EMPA.
  7. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    AS boundaries this year now leave just 9 marks between an A and an E. 36 last year would have got a D this year just an E.

    A2 boundaries are the same as last year.
  8. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    Judging by the numbers on eAQA it would seem that a lot of schools have switched from ISAs to EMPAs this year which is what my school did. It now seems to be more like 50% split at AS. Glad we made the change.
  9. Ssn77

    Ssn77 New commenter

    We switched to the chemistry EMPA's this year, and for the first time ever have got A* grades in Unit 6 + nearly as many A grades for AS and A2 Units 3 and 6 as in the overall results. Slightly more fails for EMPA units than overall, but no one with catastrophically low UMS just because they were a few raw marks off the E boundary.

    Some of my A2 students retook the AS ISA's as we thought that would be easier for them than doing two EMPA's on the same day, as we had scheduled the AS and the A2 together in the exam hall. I thought the AS ISA's were much harder than the EMPA, and the grade boundaries are much tougher.

    Really glad we swapped, though have heard some whispers about malpractice in EMPA's now so many centres are changing over.
  10. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    This time next year we will all be getting ready to teach Yr 12 students who won't have to suffer the inequities of science practical coursework any more. I, for one, can't wait!
  11. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Agree ScienceGuy.

    We did EMPAs this year and grades ranged from B to U! A2s did ISAs and got interesting grades, but I only have 3 students and one got a grade below, one a grade above and one spot on (according to my marking and, admittedly, last years grade boundaries).

    I need to take a closer look at EMPAs and might request copies of scripts.

    The whole thing is in turmoil IMO and I too cannot wait for the change.

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