Scoring top grades in science subjects really is hard

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Washington, July 1 : A new research has shown that school kids studying science and technology subjects like Maths, Physics and Chemistry find it much harder to achieve the top exam grades than candidates of similar ability studying subjects like Media Studies and Psychology.

For the study, researchers at Durham University analysed and compared data from nearly one million schoolchildren sitting GCSE and A-level exams and reviewed 28 different studies of cross subject comparison conducted in the UK since 1970.

They found significant differences in the relative difficulty of exams in different subjects with the sciences among the hardest.

On average, subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Biology at A-level are a whole grade harder than Drama, Sociology or Media Studies, and three-quarters of a grade harder than English, RE or Business Studies.

Researchers voice concerns that students will be more likely to choose to study 'easier' subjects and will not opt to study science subjects that are desperately needed by employers in the knowledge economy.

"This research shows that science and technology subjects are much more severely graded than subjects like media studies and art. I can't see how anyone could claim that all A-levels are equally difficult. If universities and employers treat all grades as equivalent they will select the wrong applicants. A student with a grade C in Biology will generally be more able than one with a B in Sociology, for example," said report author Dr Robert Coe, Deputy Director of Durham University's CEM Centre,.

"The current system provides a disincentive to schools to promote take up of sciences while league tables treat all subjects as equal.

"It also puts pressure on students to take particular subjects which may not be best educationally. I know students and schools will try to make the right choices, but we should have a system where the incentives support doing the right thing, not act against it," he added.

ANI

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