So we get to the worked solutions (for those that prefer them to markschemes, or just want a “mosey” at the way my brain works mathematically!) for the sample assessment material from AQA. The first thing I’d say is that they published theirs as separate files and not all on one big file (brilliant!); The second thing is that they have stuck to their guns in terms of design of the paper and it’s layout and haven’t changed much in terms of how they look. I have also popped them (and the ones for OCR and Edexcel) into a dropbox folder HERE
It’s interesting that their blurb now consists of three major points: –
- Same clear language and layout as their previous papers. ( MEL: see my point below! )
- Each paper starts with multiple choice questions ( MEL: Much is written about the pros and cons of using MC questions in maths and high stakes testing like the GCSE … you have to make up your own mind! )
- We carefully ramp demand through the paper
Here are my worked solutions:
Making the choice of exam board will depend on so many things and Amir ( @WorkedEdgeChaos ) asked yesterday on twitter if it was wrong to make a choice of board on how a paper looks. In my opinion it’s a massive factor. Take for example the use of lines in the answer section – personally I don’t like them – I find them restrictive and it makes my work untidy. For example should fractions be above the line or do you use the line as the “fraction bar”? We don’t use lined books and I want them to have one less thing to think about when it comes to exams so would probably want them to use lined books all the time to get used to it. A minor point I know but still a consideration. I’m also concerned that students will feel they have to use ALL the lines and end up writing a load of twaddle!
As to the use of multiple choice questions (MCQ) – you have to decide for yourself what you think! I have an opinion (of course I do!) – They are probably being used to assess certain assessment objectives within the global view of the papers, but in general I find they can reward “quick and dirty” approaches to maths unless they are VERY carefully designed. MCQ’s consist of 3 distinct parts: a stem, a set of possible responses and the correct answer. The key to a great MCQ is a set of terrific distracters—those alternatives that could be, but are not, correct. For me, introducing MCQs in an exam would mean teaching students how to answer this style of question and to know what to look for. To be fair to AQA most of the MCQs in their papers have good distractors I just wasn’t prepared for them to be found throughout the paper and not just at the start.
Back to the SAMs … here’s a titbit for you … I am aware that there was a communication between the boards and Ofqual asking the boards to remove any previous SAMs – The request wasn’t compulsory and they can’t be forced to do but AQA still have theirs on their website … I am starting to like the militant side to AQA. Mwahahaha