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Exam boards question rise in 15-year-olds taking GCSEs

Exam boards have criticised the rise in the number of 15-year-olds taking GCSE exams, with 91,000 children sitting the tests a year early.

Why oh why do we now get a significant increase in 15-year-olds taking GCSE?

– Andrew Hall of the exam board AQA

Early entry does not benefit the students. The results are far lower for 15-year-olds - these qualifications are designed for 16-year-olds.

Students should be left to learn for those two years and that is what we would encourage.

– Mark Dawe of the exam board OCR

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  1. National

'Underlying factors' behind GCSE results fall

The director of the Joint Council for Qualifications said "underlying factors" affected the dip in GCSE results but praised the "upturn" in the number studying modern languages.

There are many underlying factors affecting this year's GCSEs, including a sizeable increase in entry by 15-year-olds, new science specifications designed with greater challenge, early and multiple entry in mathematics and an increase in the number of students taking IGCSEs.

All of these have had an impact on entries and results.

This year's upturn in languages will be welcomed across the education sector and beyond. Not since 2008 have there been this many entries in languages.

However, it remains to be seen if this is the start of a trend and if more students decide to continue to study a language at A-level.

– Michael Turner, Joint Council for Qualifications director
  1. National

Science hit by drop in GCSE results

Science was hit by the drop in GCSE results despite more pupils studying biology, chemistry and physics.

Science has seen a drop in results. Credit: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA

There was a drop across the board in all three sciences - in biology, 89.8% of entries got at least a C, down from 92.6% last year, in chemistry 90% of entries scored A*-C, down from 93%, and in physics 90.8% reached this standard, down from 93.2%.

The decline in results for the separate sciences is partly down to bright students switching to IGCSE courses and an increase in the number of 15-year-olds, who tend to perform less well, taking the exams early, JCQ said.

It added that a general trend of more students opting for the three sciences, some of whom will have lower abilities in the subject, may also have had an effect.

  1. National

GCSE results fall comes after upheaval in exam systems

The dip in GCSE results comes amid a major upheaval in the exams system and it is thought the following issues have contributed to the fall:

  • A rise in the number of pupils entering maths GCSE early or multiple times.
  • A revamp in science GCSE following a 2009 report that said the courses were too easy.
  • An increase in the number of pupils taking international GCSEs (IGCSE) in certain subjects.
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