Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

Yes, once more by public demand (ahem), we here at TPIOT bring you our annual review of the Scottish exams, starting with part one: the Mathematics Standard Grades (Foundation, General, Credit - in increasing order of difficulty) which took place last Thursday in sweaty exam halls and school gyms up and down the country.

So, what's the skinny?

Well, I thought they were all pretty reasonable to be honest. Keen fans of this blog will recall that I was worried last year at the lack of testing of algebraic skills at Credit, and though this does remain an issue, I do think that they managed to produce a better paper overall. Last year's was just too darn easy, which has ultimately done no-one any favours, as a lot of pupils have ended up heading on to Higher this year when really they shouldn't have.

I've spoken with a few teachers at other schools and there are perhaps some concerns that some of the reasoning questions in Credit were a tad obscure, but I'm not sure I agree. It seems to me a pretty pathetic position to be in, when we expect every question in the exam to be one which pupils have seen before.

Meanwhile General and Foundation seemed very decent. I was pleased to see that the amount of reading in the F exam has been cut down, which is a good thing as often the less able pupils are disadvantaged by issues other than their mathematical ability when there is so much waffle going on. (I am happy to predict now, by the way, that we'll eventually be told that the worst done question was in fact the one requiring pupils to draw an angle of 80 degrees... which must have sent invigilators across Scotland scurrying to maths departments in a hurry to get yet more protractors.)

Final point: I couldn't help but notice that quite a few questions in the exams dealt with "real life" situations with a slight environmental or social tinge... that'll be SQA getting in on the "Curriculum for Excellence" jamboree bandwagon bunfight then.

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