View Full Version : GCSE Science Test - Can You Pass It?

Dak Man
10th May 2013, 12:20
Can you pass GCSE Science? - Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationquestions/10044034/Can-you-pass-GCSE-Science.html)

I had 75% but guessed 1 correct answer.

10th May 2013, 12:24
Well, after taking the little exam it further supports the premise that: I suck in science.

10th May 2013, 12:28
67% in 162 seconds, a couple of guesses. Science was never my strongest subject.

10th May 2013, 12:31
That makes two of us - although I did enjoy it !

Failed it at O level, obviously haven't got any better.

10th May 2013, 12:34
83%, but it is 41 years since I left school.

10th May 2013, 12:36
58% in 216 seconds; mostly guesses as I was particularly crap at chemistry at school.

Dak Man
10th May 2013, 12:36
I like this kind of exercise as (although not GCSEs) it gives context to what my kids are doing at school (my eldest is 14), it would be hypocritical of me to berate them if I don't understand what they're learning and can't cut the mustard when I try.

Ancient Observer
10th May 2013, 12:38
58% in 158 seconds.

They must have dumbed this down a lot. I have no science O levels.

10th May 2013, 12:48
100% in 109 seconds. But I did take my science on to university, so would expect a decent score ;)

10th May 2013, 12:49
83% in 147 seconds. Lost out on biochemistry, which I never did.

10th May 2013, 13:15
1. This test is unrepresentative of GCSE Science, as it tests only factual recall. There are no calculations or any need to apply principles.

2. One of the massive problems with GCSE Science is that the content has been reduced, but the difficulty has been (allegedly) maintained by making the questions more difficult to interpret (i.e more complex language is used). This means it becomes more of a language test than a science test. Furthermore, the language difficulty can be bypassed by exam practice, whereas this is harder to bypass when it is science difficulty that is being tested, especially when multiple-guess questions are used.

3. This test contains none of the more 'woolly' topics in GCSE Science practice, which have equally "woolly" markschemes. Around 2004, myself and other science teachers stopped being able to get 100%. On around 2 questions per paper, the questions were either too "woolly" to work out what was being asked, or we disagreed with the markscheme answer. This is ridiculous, and never occurred prior to this.

4. You do not need 80% for an A*. Taking last summer's AQA exams for example, Biology 1 required an 87% for an A* on the multiple guess (see above), or only 57% on an actual written paper. This is a massive con. The 80% comes from averaging the different methods. A 'C' grade on the written paper could be had for 33%. In other words, a GCSE Science 'pass' now means the student only knows 1/3 of the (reduced) syllabus. No wonder employers keep saying that kids these days know nothing - it's because they don't.

5. I must add that this is not the kids' fault, or the teachers' fault. The kids can only respond to the good teachers, and there are nowhere near enough of them, especially physical scientists. The Government thinks it's OK for biologists to teach physics. In a word, bollocks. Futhermore, even good teachers are being chased by management to get ever higher grades, so exam practice takes over, rather than enriching their knowledge. Thus ever higher GCSE Science results occur, but the numbers doing physical sciences at A level and Uni have dropped massively. Which means less physical science graduates to go back into teaching. Where there's already a massive shortage.

p.s. A 'D' grade in 2012 was 24%. This used to mean 'just less than a 'C', i.e. just under 50%, so the value of a 'D' grade has halved in 20 years.
A 'G' grade was awarded on Physics unit 2 for 6%, and that's on the easy Foundation syllabus.
Hands up anyone who thinks a 'G' grade, or even a 'D' grade, is any use with those levels of knowledge?

I challenge anyone to get only 6% on that physics paper. it is here
The markscheme is here
I bet you can get 4 marks (6%) in about 2 minutes, but you have an hour.
And you get all the equations on a sheet these days. See pages 21/22 here

Dak Man
10th May 2013, 13:31
so you failed the test then Foxy......;)

10th May 2013, 13:41
I failed the test of putting up with this crap.

I emigrated, and I was not the only member of my science department emigrating that year.

10th May 2013, 13:43
Scared to try. :p I was clearing out some stuff from the attic a couple of years ago, and encountered a notebook from the 3rd year of a pure maths degree I did in the mid-80s. Definitely my handwriting, but what it all meant I'm f:mad:d if I know. :uhoh:

(All group and set theory, some topology notes).

Yamagata ken
10th May 2013, 14:45
75% in 244 seconds. The question which caught my attention was "hydrogenation to make a healthy spread". We didn't cover that at school. My idea of a "healthy spread" is something called "butter", but that wasn't an option.

10th May 2013, 14:55
I agree with foxy

Worthless test to judge knowledge of how things work

10th May 2013, 14:57
You've spotted the problem, Ken. There is considerable debate over many topics like hydrogenated spreads vs butter, nuclear power stations, etc. The GCSE Science exams include contentious topics and only accept 1 answer.

One classic I remember was "What sensors do helicopters use for detection?". Girl ticks 'ultraviolet' and gets marked wrong. Amusing since her dad was the ETPS chief rotary test pilot, and 'ultraviolet' is one of the ranges used. The muppets setting these exams will not ever admit errors however. In fact they have stopped turning up to review conferences because they know the sh!t they'll get about it, and do not respond to correspondence any more.

10th May 2013, 15:08
67% with quite a few guesses. I can still draw the digestive system of a rabbit, though (Biology my only science O level in 1964).

12th May 2013, 12:44
I'm so with fox3 on this one
Used to teach physics in England
Left the country after 10 years
No physics teachers left in dept when I went
But that's ok because in my opinion there was no physics left in the gcse syllabus either !

12th May 2013, 15:22
You don't even have to go back that far
I took a level physics in 1990
By the time I started teaching in 1996 I couldn't use my old a level textbooks as a teaching resource as they went waaaaay beyond the syllabus

12th May 2013, 15:34
Research by CEM at Durham would indicate that standards started dropping very gentling over the 1980's, then rapidly after 1991. Physics and Maths have the easiest comparisons.
Even at University, the courses have had to adapt due to the reduced level of knowledge at entry. My old BSc(hons) now gets you an MEng - the contents are basically identical.
I have twice considered getting a Masters degree, as grade inflation now means many posts require one. On both occasions admissions tutors have considered my knowledge summary and told me not to bother as I've already know the material.
On two occasions in the last 10 years I have competed with 20-something PhD's for jobs (one from Cambridge). On both occasions I got the job because "You know more that he does".
Frightening really...as whilst I'm quite a sharp knife, I'm not exactly katana-level.

12th May 2013, 15:45
100%, but apart from the lucky guesses the answers I could remember were prompted by rote; ie repeating the q till brain responded parrot fashion. So kinda vindicates previous comments about the validity of the excercise...