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Is OCR harder

Discussion in 'Science' started by ScienceGuy, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    Following the latest comments in the Telegraph today, do science teachers agree that OCR exams are harder?
    My current school switched from OCR Double and Single award GCSE to AQA 5 years ago when we had the specification revisions. At the same time we had jump in our result which has been sustained (though that may have been due to the change in content as well). Having seen 21st Century exams I have been struck by the lack of content and scientific knowledge required though I do think Gateway has a bit more challenge about it. My only experience of Edexcel was over 10 years ago and, at the time I thought it was much more challenging than AQA (or NEAB / SEG as was) particularly in its interpretation of the old POAE coursework.
    At A level I currently teach OCR biology and chemistry and I am very happy with these courses (and therefore unlikely to want to change from them) but I would be interested to hear other colleagues opinions on the differences in difficulty of the science A levels.
     
  2. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    Following the latest comments in the Telegraph today, do science teachers agree that OCR exams are harder?
    My current school switched from OCR Double and Single award GCSE to AQA 5 years ago when we had the specification revisions. At the same time we had jump in our result which has been sustained (though that may have been due to the change in content as well). Having seen 21st Century exams I have been struck by the lack of content and scientific knowledge required though I do think Gateway has a bit more challenge about it. My only experience of Edexcel was over 10 years ago and, at the time I thought it was much more challenging than AQA (or NEAB / SEG as was) particularly in its interpretation of the old POAE coursework.
    At A level I currently teach OCR biology and chemistry and I am very happy with these courses (and therefore unlikely to want to change from them) but I would be interested to hear other colleagues opinions on the differences in difficulty of the science A levels.
     
  3. Ssn77

    Ssn77 New commenter

    Don't harder exams just have lower grade boundaries? On last summer's chemistry 1 GCE papers, you required 76% for an A grade with Edexcel and 83% with AQA. Edexcel has more content in it, and I think would prepare students better for university than the easier exams.


    I have heard of a school with a sixth form going for the harder exams at GCSE because it will prepare their students better for A level, while those schools who go to Year 11 definitely seem to search for the easiest. Similarly, the school with the sixth form went for a harder A level because they had their eye on getting students into Oxbridge and other Russell group universities.
     
  4. I don't think they are harder/easier. Just different enough to force you to buy their own text books!
     
  5. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    A good reason to have only one exam board perhaps! I have to say that, in science at least, the differences in difficulty have been more linked to assessment (multiple choice / modular / all terminal) and particularly the coursework. The new AQA ISAs are causing my department no end of headaches (I am glad that I am not teaching that course this year) and would be the only reason why we would want to switch courses
     
  6. The OCR controlled assessments are a pain in the **** too. The curriculum is difficult to teach as it is disjointed at GCSE. We used to do OCR at a-level as it seemed easier!
     
  7. The content for OCR GCSE physics is a lot harder, teaching the SUVAT equations with projectile motion in 1 lesson and how diodes, capacitors and bridge rectifier circuits work to bottom sets is not easy. However, the questions on the exam paper often only require a couple of words of explanation or ticking the right box.
    I also wonder sometimes if the people who write the A'Level actually talk to the people doing GCSE as the only things in OCR AS level that are different from anything they have done at GCSE is quantum physics and the small section on materials. This could be a good thing if they actually had understood anything from GCSE rather than just rote learning it. We changed to AQA this year because the amount of content is a lot less. Hopefully we can then spend longer on each section and the pupils might actually understand it before you have to move onto the next topic. I have found looking at past paper questions that AQA seem to require much more detail in their answers than OCR. Swings and roundabouts I guess but at least with AQA if they carry onto A'Level they might at least have a firm grasp on what they covered at GCSE.
     

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