Thursday, 6 March 2014

Special Report from Year 11

With the Exam Season nearly upon us, we have here a special report from Year 11 about how they have been getting along with the necessary evil that plagues us all: revision.

Revision, for me, is a very uncommon thing; the last time I properly revised for something was probably in the run up to my SAT's in Year 6, meaning my revision books had been, for quite a while, left to fester in the corner of my room, becoming nothing more than flypaper for an inch of dust. However, with my GCSE's on the horizon like a bedraggled terminator, I was told to begin revising, being given books from the school, as well as getting my own. After all, this was going to aid my education, and, therefore, my life in general.

Now, I am fully aware of the governmental changes that have taken place over the past few years, especially the such drastic ones in the education, however, I was astounded and appalled by the standard, or rather lack of, in the revision books, as well as workbooks in general. In most of the texts there wasn't just typos or printing errors, there were genuine syllabus-based misnomers.

For instance, this was taken from the CGP Physics Workbook:
 Now, this simple print mistake now means I cannot even second-guess the question, and means I have to now look elsewhere to revise that part of the topic.

Sticking with CGP (or Cock Groping Prats), and the sciences, this little excerpt is taken from a simple question in their Biology Workbook, asking to name the cell:
Now, you could have answered that with a simple 'egg' or 'ovum', and you would have been more than correct, as per their mark-scheme at the back of the book. However, if you had answered 'oocyte', the correct scientific definition of a female gamete, you would have lost the mark, despite it being a more than acceptable answer in the actual exam.

It gets worse, as we move away from the Cathedral of Green Phalluses and onto Edexcel's very own revision booklets. In their Geography Revision Guide, this came up:
Now, I may not be an expert in the word 'how', but it usually implies to the reader how something is to occur, in this instance how, through geographical processes, a spit is formed. What it instead offers is an explanation of simply what a spit is. I had the good sense to use the internet to relearn something that I had learnt and forgot in Year 10, but as the exam board's own book, you would think they would take it a little more seriously, or even make it a little more accurate.

In the complimentary Edexcel Geography Workbook, a question on Drainage Basins was posed, and asked readers simply to label the different letter as what they were in geographical terms:
Now, this would seem rather straightforward to a normal onlooker, but to a keener geographer's eye, you notice that the labeling system they have adopted for this is as about as specific as the question "What's that?". A and E sit on the same line, so either could be the Watershed and both are near to a source, so they could both be the label for source. D could be any of Upper Course, Confluence, Tributary or Middle Course, C being similar with options Confluence or Lower Course. Most people would assign B Mouth, and they would gain the mark, however, it still could be a Delta or even something as simple as Sea or Lake. This non-prescriptiveness just begs confusion, and would never stand up in an actual test.

You would think that, as private companies that make their money servicing the students of our country, they would have the ability to write texts that actually helped and not hindered, especially Edexcel, the people who are responsible for marking the paper that dictates the grade that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Little mistakes like these just chip away at my confidence in the exam boards, and the education system.

Now, there is always the defense that there have been many education 'reforms' in recent years, and the boards and revision experts are struggling to keep up. We must therefore share a little of the blame on the government and Senor Gove, but, if you cannot deliver a high standard of service, do not print these books at all, at least not until someone has proofread them. Oh, wait, the CGP Physics book referred to earlier has 8 authors and 6 editors, and the CGP biology has 8 authors, 2 editors and 6 proofreaders. Collectively, did none of them re-read their work?

DISCLAIMER: This Hampstead Trash article has been written to inform readers, portraying a factual argument over a specific subject or to report objectively on an event that has occurred.

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