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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 15:03 GMT
More time for tough maths exam
Exams
The maths course will not be easier, say exam chiefs
A maths exam which was failed by almost a third of candidates this year is to give students more time.

The AS-level in maths, which head teachers had claimed was more difficult than other subjects, is to be restructured so that students can spread out exams over a longer period.

As an interim measure, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says that students will have the option of postponing one of the AS-level units until the autumn.

The Education Secretary Estelle Morris said that she hoped the changes would encourage more pupils to study for the full A-level.

The exams body says that it is not changing the level of difficulty of the course - but that it is to introduce a staggering of exams.

This will remain in place for students taking exams this summer - and for the next two cohorts of students.

This was announced in a wider report on the reforms to the exam system - which had seen the introduction of AS-levels to widen the curriculum for sixth formers.

Overload

The new exams were settling into place, the report suggested, after a difficult first year, in which many schools complained of an overloaded timetable.

"The experience of AS in its second year, for both teachers and students, is a more positive one," said the QCA's chief executive, David Hargreaves.

"Uncertainties about the standards and demands of the AS are abating and familiarity with the requirements of both the specifications and the assessment materials is giving teachers greater security."

The changes to the maths exam were welcomed by head teachers' leaders.

"It is vital that improvements are made in mathematics AS examinations. This country desperately needs more well-qualified mathematicians and mathematics teachers," said John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association.

"It is a nonsense that mathematics A-level (and now AS too) has long been harder than other A-levels."

See also:

12 Sep 01 | UK Education
30 May 01 | UK Education
09 Jul 01 | UK Education
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