A question that was in a recent GCSE maths exam has sparked outrage among the thousands of pupils who sat the paper this past week. By the afternoon the issue was trending on Twitter, highlighting the difficultly of one particular question.
The question that drew all the attention was: “Hannah has 6 orange sweets and some yellow sweets. Overall, she has n sweets. The probability of her taking 2 orange sweets is 1/3. Prove that: n^2-n-90=0.” (^ means “to the power of”.)
Not only was the question trending on Twitter, an online petition has been set up calling for the board to lower the grade boundaries when marking the paper. The student behind the petition explained that “thousands of young people who sat the exam today found the paper disastrously hard and this is especially unfair considering how reasonable papers were during the previous years. This isn’t because of lack of revision, but because of the sheer difficulty of the paper. Fair enough the first half was alright, however after that it goes quite downhill, proving impossible for even the most able students”.
When asked about the question under the scrutiny, a Pearson spokesperson said that the question was aimed at students aiming for A and A* grades and that it would ensure students were “treated fairly” when the papers were marked.
In May, exam boards had been asked to rewrite questions for the GCSE maths papers, after being told they were too tough for even the brightest students. Pearson, who created the Edexcel paper that is causing the uproar, were one of the boards asked to revise their papers. A representative of Pearson stated that “our exam papers are designed by an experienced team of expert teachers with a deep understanding of the subject matter; in the event that any one paper turns out to be more or indeed less challenging than usual, our marking and grading process always ensures students are awarded the grades they deserve”.
But what do you think? Could you work out the answer? Have the questions become too challenging? Or were previous papers too easy and needed to be made harder to prepare the future generation? Have your say here..