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New specification AS Chemistry - specimen papers

Discussion in 'Science' started by Ssn77, May 8, 2016.

  1. Ssn77

    Ssn77 New commenter

    There is a thread going on about the new Physics papers, does anyone have any comments on the Chemistry specimen papers?

    My groups have been doing the AQA papers as homework, and are finding them extremely tough.

    I have no problem with challenging papers, but am very worried that these papers do not seem to differentiate between students (other than the multiple choice questions, which produce a nice spread of marks). With my students, these papers would produce very narrow grade boundaries.

    There are five to eight mark questions based on practical work, which many students are getting very low marks on because they are missing the point of the question. If you spot what the examiner is after, then there are often easy marks. We did one quite easy numerical question (5 marks) which lots of students got 0/5 because they didn't realise where to start. Those that did, got 5 marks.
    There are other one mark questions which require maybe three different inputs, and no differentiation between someone who doesn't have a clue, and someone who has got two of the points.

    A couple of students are getting 80%+, a few more above 60%, and then the vast majority between 45 and 55%. If the papers were done under exam conditions, marks would be a lot lower.

    What are other exam boards like? I hope this is just the specimen papers and the difficulty has been under-estimated. However, If AQA do not produce exams with a better distribution of marks, I will be looking to swap board next year.
  2. purple-linzi

    purple-linzi New commenter

    My students have recently completed the second set of papers under exam conditions, not surprisingly many found them challenging, much harder than the past paper questions. There was a spread of marks but too many getting less than 50% and not enough at the top end. I hope these are not reflective of the actual papers, too many twists to the questions and sometimes maths for the sake of it. Having changed to AQA I hope I will not regret it.
  3. The_Count

    The_Count New commenter

    OCR A specimen papers have proved just as difficult for our groups but very hard to predict how this will translate into the real world exam.

    Compared to the jump in difficulty for the Edexcel GCSE sciences though this is a limited change.
  4. msuxg

    msuxg New commenter

    The information I have from someone working at an exam board is that this is not surprising. It's a result of Ofqual tightening the requirements for A-level science - it will probably be the same across all boards.
  5. Owennnn

    Owennnn Occasional commenter

    Similar experience here, I seem to be noticing a huge disparity between this spec and the previous. It's making it very difficult to prepare the students effectively with such a limited selection.
  6. Ssn77

    Ssn77 New commenter

    Difficult papers are not the issue, it is the lack of differentiation between students that I am worried about.
    I am also concerned that bright students are sometimes losing lots of marks on a single practical based question, because they haven't picked up what the examiner is after. Some questions they carry out three steps to get one mark, then another question they lose five or six marks because of one error. The specimen papers are not reflecting the relative abilities of my students.
  7. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    Bear in mind that, as these are specimen papers, the mark schemes have not been discussed / updated by examiners. In the real exams, many more answers will be given credit than the very narrow range of answers we have to use at the moment.

    In OCR Biology there was a question asking students to identify which of two chemicals was likely to be a triglyceride (the other was a trisaccharide) based on their chemical formulae. My brightest students correctly stated that the triglyceride must be the chemical which had only 6 oxygens - 2 for each ester link, which was a better answer than either allowed on the published mark scheme.

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