Year 12 spend the day at the University of Surrey getting to grips with the Personal Statement.
As plans to revise A-levels continue to move ahead behind the scenes, Ofqual has published research it has done comparing A-levels with secondary school assessment in other high-performing areas such as Alberta, Finland, Hong Kong, China, Korea and New Zealand.
The more interesting findings are:
1. In England we study fewer subjects in the sixth form and permit earlier specialisation than other countries. We favour depth rather than breadth. Other countries offer a maths course for sixth formers who are weak at maths – like the IB Maths Studies.
2. There is much to be said for the independent dissertation of the sort one sees in History A-level or the Extended Project. Such work develops research skills, deep thought and the ability to synthesise.
3. Our Maths A-level tends to be broader and less deep than the equivalent in some other countries. Also, in England different students can study very different options within Maths A-level so they come to university knowing rather different areas of the subject.
4. We make less use of school-based assessment than other countries. Elsewhere the oral test is regarded as a powerful examining tool – it is demanding and helps pupils to learn to speak.
5. Other countries make more use of multiple-choice questions. Such questions are good at helping to assess a large part of the syllabus quickly. If well set they can test high order thinking skills.
The Informed Choices guide, aimed at all students considering A level and equivalent options, has been revised and now contains a statement on the English Baccalaureate. It includes advice on the best subject combinations for a wide range of university courses as well as advice on the best choices for students who do not know what they want to study after school and wish to keep their options open. For more information go to: