Ofqual announces extra checks on maths A level standards

Exams regulator brings in new tests that could avoid repeat of GCSE fiasco

Ofqual has announced plans for extra checks on the difficulty levels of new A level maths papers, that could avoid further complaints of a “race to the bottom” by exam boards.

The exams watchdog will ask maths teachers and PhD students to test exam boards’ new A level maths papers, which will be taught for the first time in September 2017, to make sure all boards’ papers are equally challenging.

It comes after last-minute checks on the standards of new GCSE maths papers by the watchdog last year revealed that one exam board’s paper was too easy and three boards’ papers were too difficult.

Ofqual asked all four boards to tear up sample question papers in the wake of the findings, even though it had already approved the papers.

Dr Michelle Meadows, Ofqual’s executive director for strategy, risk and research, said: “The accreditation process does look at level of demand, but it only judges each qualification in isolation.

“It’s more difficult to make an accurate judgement of the likely difficulty of just one exam paper or question, it is far easier and more reliable to compare two questions and rate which is going to be more difficult.”

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