A-grades given for half marks in maths

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The Independent Online

Pupils were awarded A grades in one of Britain's most popular GCSE maths exams this summer despite having only achieved half marks.

Pupils were awarded A grades in one of Britain's most popular GCSE maths exams this summer despite having only achieved half marks.

Students needed to score just 45 per cent in two exams to achieve an A grade in an exam set by the Edexcel board. Combined with their coursework scores, this meant that just 51 per cent was needed overall.

The papers were sat by 80,000 pupils this summer and more than half got an A or A*. The figures were condemned as "ludicrous" by maths experts.

The Confederation of British Industry recently lambasted the school system for producing students who left school without a grasp of basic arithmetic.

Even Edexcel admitted that it may have been possible for some students to achieve As without tackling any questions on central topics such as algebra. Roger Porkess, a former senior examiner who developed the first modular A-level maths syllabus, said: "This is simply ludicrous. The exams are the important thing and to give students As for getting 45 per cent is completely unacceptable.

"It means that people are being awarded A grades and given the green light to go on to A-level when they have absolutely no grasp of key mathematical concepts like algebra. The GCSE maths exam is fundamentally flawed and needs to a radical redesign."

Doug French, of the Mathematical Association, said: "To give pupils a paper in which they can get a high-grade pass on less than half marks seems crazy. This suggests pupils can achieve A-grades by missing whole swaths of maths."

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