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OCR GCSE Computing Exam

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by Tosha, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    I've heard from a couple of sources that the OCR Computing exam was a disaster this year with many students misunderstanding or not being able to answer questions, anyway many more than normal.

    Has anyone else heard similar rumours?
  2. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    Another exam I never saw. Any chance of posting the exam so we can all see it?
  3. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    From what I have heard the grade boundaries have had to be made very low.
  4. olderandwiser

    olderandwiser Occasional commenter

    If GCSE Computing is going to be taught, it has to start in Year 7 and continue into years 8 and 9, with some topics like binary being given to the Maths Department to deliver. Students need to be pretty familiar with the basics of algorithms and coding in one or two languages by the time they hit Year 10 or they are wasting their time. Anyone who has seen the OCR specification knows that it is completely impossible to cover all the material in it in two or three hours a week in just Year 10 and 11 in any meaningful way. The old rubbish of spending the first half term in year 7 doing a powerpoint about themselves, then doing a pocket money spreadsheet, then a database of football teams etc etc was fine 10 years ago but schools need to up their game everywhere and reinvent their department. I did some supply in a school at the end of Easter which had exactly that model of powerpoint, spreadsheets, databases etc and frankly, it was an appalling embarrassment to teach and most students were so bored. The school thoroughly deserved its 'Requires Improvement' across the board from OFSTED a few months earlier.
  5. MrDuck

    MrDuck New commenter

    Where have you heard this from?

    I thought the exam this year was challenging. The questions were quite wordy and based on quite obscure parts of the spec. I didn't think the questions were very well worded - felt like they were trying to trick the candidate.

    The results from the controlled assessments are always quite entertaining too!
  6. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    That's an interesting point of view. An understanding of binary is so fundamental to almost everything in Computing, from storage and transmission of data, through encryption to programming, why would you leave it to another department and trust them to teach it at the right time and put it into context for you.

    Other than that, I agree - at the end of my KS3 Computing course there's little GCSE theory left to cover.
  7. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Ditto - and if schools are following the National Curriculum they should be in the same boat. In a year or two KS4 will be what it should be: building on and consolidating knowledge they already have, rather than trying to cram it all in at a superficial level over less than 2 years (which it is now!).

    The exam was a lot harder than previous OCR exams; this has been discussed in another thread. I think that the huge increase in students taking it will have an impact on the grade boundaries too - a few years ago it was the grammars/independents with only a few 'normal' schools thrown in: there will be many more 'average' students taking the exam, I'd expect.
  8. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    One decision that has to be made in the next few days is whether to continue to use Python. Although I started out liking it, I'm going it off it rapidly as it keeps veering away from what the GCSE specifications want eg declaring variables, using arrays etc. It is difficult constantly saying 'this is how most languages do it but Python is different, and don't forget to ignore how Python does it in the exams'. Whoever knocked out the GCSE specifications really needs a knee in the Crown Jewels area for not considering how to address the many schools who use languages that veer away from BASIC type approaches.

    I'm seriously thinking about returning to one of the versions of BASIC like JustBasic or PASCAL. Has anyone used JavaScript as the sole primary teaching language? Does it cover all bases? Any drawbacks / advantages?
  9. danlee

    danlee New commenter

    I have thought the same thing. OCR also favoured students who did a particular controlled assessment last year - not fair. OCR just like to punish kids.

    I am thinking of moving away from Python too. In the next specifications 2016 they want user interfaces. Can't do this with C grade kids in Python.

  10. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    I'd stick with VB or maybe Java or c# if you use them in a simplistic manner.

    Small basic is limited when it comes to methods/functions and most other stuff, not sure about Just Basic. Though these languages are good when introducing textual programming.

    JavaScript can be difficult to de-bug, variables are not scoped as in other languages and a loosely typed language is not the best when teaching data types. The APIs can also be fiddly.

    Python seems to be have taken up by those that are unfamiliar with programming. Not sure it is the best language to teach the essentials of programming.
  11. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    Although I am a big fan of Python, A trawl through the current GCSE syllabuses shows, as you say,, that it does not fit in well with their requirements . I'd go for one of the BASICS - no particular preferences but I find JustBASIC easy to get on with.

    I'd avoid JavaScript. I develop javascript/JQUERY based learning activities as a sideline and despite my many years of programming experience I still find myself "fighting the code" most of the time
  12. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    "In the next specifications 2016 they want user interfaces."

    I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere. Link please?

    I can't stand VB. There are far too many versions and too many bolt-ons, Microsoft stopped supporting it for a while (although I think they've changed their minds recently), we had endless different versions being used by students at home, and then they couldn't get programs working in school, and the school system had the usual problems getting VB to be stable. A total nightmare.

    Bring back PASCAL. Up to GCSE level, PASCAL and BASIC are still the perfect languages IMHO to teach the fundamentals.
  13. danlee

    danlee New commenter

    Look at the sample assessment materials
  14. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I think that you could do a nice little project in JavaScript, with s user interface refined with CSS, except that OCR seem to be obsessed with file-handling fur since reason - who uses files these days?
  15. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Seems to be true:


    A451 (exam)

    70% for an A*, 61% for an A, 53% for a B, 44% for a C!


    89% for an A*, 78% for an A, 67% for a B, 56% for a C - bit more normal
  16. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    I still haven't seen the exam in question but 35 out of 80 for a C grade is extremely bad for an exam and reflects terribly on this exam''s board exam setting capabilities. OCR did a very bad job setting and quality controlling this exam clearly. OFQUAL have also done an extraordinarily poor job as usual regulating OCR''s consistently poor efforts.

    The root cause of this as everyone has been saying is the syllabus content. Teachers have been consistently saying that all parts of this qualification are just too hard for this age group, and that there is just too much material to get through in a 120 - 140 hour course. Unfortunately, as usual, both OCR and OFQUAL believe they are Gods, continue to ignore all constructive comments and carry on as if everything was wonderful.

    OCR will continue to let everyone down while OFQUAL are in bed with them, and students, teachers and schools will continue to suffer. OCR are incompetent, dysfunctional and deaf and the Government needs to abolish it.

    I'd like to see the exam. Please post the pdf.
  17. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    No, the problem was a very badly worded algorithm question and questions that required students to recite definitions which were not explicitly stated in the spec.

    Though I agree OCR Computing/ICT examiners are not competent. This is not their first mistake.

    Fortunately ofqual have done a gone job ensuring the new computer science specs are similar, so OCR will lose many centres.
  18. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    But OCR will argue til they are blue in the face how their exams go through a rigorous process of quality control. How can they not be perfect, relevant and clear? :)
  19. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    But if all the specs are the same who in their right mind would opt for OCR?
  20. danlee

    danlee New commenter

    Nobody would opt for them. I don't have anything good to say about OCR.

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