Exam regulator orders re-writes for maths GCSEs deemed too hard

Ofqual found that papers produced by three of the four main exam boards were too hard and not suitable for the broad spread of candidates, with the exception being AQA who has been ordered to make its papers “more challenging”.

The exam regulator found that OCR, Pearson and WJEC Eduqas’ tests would “fail to differentiate effectively across the full range of ability… Due to the assessments being too difficult”, with the Pearson and Equdas papers being so challenging that the grade A boundary would have to have been set below 50%.

Chief executive of OCR board Mark Dawe responded to the news saying: "We appreciate Ofqual's determination to ensure that all awarding bodies' exams are of the same rigour. We also welcome the Regulator's commitment to enable new sample exam papers to be with schools and colleges from the end of June."

This order for re-writes comes just six school weeks before students are due to start studying for the exams, but chief exams regulator Glenys Stacey rejected the idea that Ofqual had left it too late.

She said: "What we are doing here is an unprecedented amount of analysis.

"This is not going back to the drawing board. This is going to happen in the next few days. This is not a substantial re-write by any means, it's making sure standards are right in a sufficient and even-handed way."

Exam boards will have to make changes and submit sample materials for approval by the end of the month.

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