Standards still low in GCSE science

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Teenagers have gained A grades in GCSE science despite scoring less than 50 per cent, says exam regulator, Ofqual.

In a new report, Ofqual said standards were still too low in the subject, and questions not difficult enough, despite a warning to exam boards to toughen up their papers.

Ofqual found evidence of over-reliance on multiple choice and questions that pointed candidates towards the answer instead of testing scientific knowledge.

On some papers, 'grade boundaries were too low to ensure candidates showed a satisfactory range of knowledge and understanding'.

One exam board gave a pupil a C grade GCSE despite scoring only 20 per cent and another an A after getting 47 per cent in a paper.

Too many questions placed 'low demands' on pupils and failed to provide a 'sufficient challenge' for the most able.

Ofqual reserved its harshest criticism for exams set by two boards: OCR and Edexcel.

They awarded significantly higher proportions of A and C grades than other boards and statistical indicators would warrant.

But it declined to name the boards which had allowed marks of 47 per cent for an A grade and 20 per cent for a C grade.

The report, carried out in collaboration with DCELLS, the Welsh watchdog, said: "The findings of this investigation did not differ significantly from those found in previous investigations, thus adding further evidence that standards are currently too low in GCSE science and additional science qualifications."

Ofqual chief executive, Isabel Nisbet ,said: "There is still some way to go to ensure that these important qualifications meet the high standards that Ofqual requires."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: "It is worrying Ofqual has found that such weaknesses remained in GCSE sciences last year. We want all qualifications to be as rigorous as possible."

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