…Or me at least.
Whilst bored and playing around upon the Times Online website I came across one of this years articles bemoaning the fact that exams aren’t as hard as they used to be back in the good old days when you were still permitted to beat lessons into your students and whiteboards were as unheard of as chalk dust allergies.
To illustrate their point and settle the case once and for all they decided to get 5 A* pupils; who had just done their GCSEs, to sit a paper for which that had not studied the syllabus - Only 2 passed the O Level, so obviously O Levels are the harder exam.
Mind you judging by the example questions, the students never had a chance. Even The Times (or whoever wrote the article got the answer wrong:
Test yourself Maths and English O-level
1) A machine that cost £35,000 is operated eight hours a day in a five-day week but one hour each day is used for test purposes. There are three scales of charges, the first at the rate of £5 an hour for private use, the second at £15 an hour for research work and the third at £40 an hour for commercial work. It is estimated that the numbers of hours charged at the first, second and third rates are in the ratios 4:2:1. Express the receipts from commercial work as a percentage of the total receipts.
If the machine costs £30 a week to maintain, how many complete weeks must elapse before one quarter of the original cost of the machine can be recovered?
2) Rewrite two of the following sentences to remove any errors. (i) Uncle Tom has agreed to share his money between you and I. (ii) The dog had hurt it’s paw. (iii) The number of accidents on the road are increasing.
Maths answers: 44.5%; 21 weeks
English answers: you and me; its; is increasing
As can be seen from my working out in the picture below the maths question isn’t that hard and doesn’t even require a calculator - For verisimilitude I did it like an O Level student with just a pen and paper, a calculator would only have slowed me down.
As you can see I arrived at an answer to the first part of question 1 as 44.4% and not 44.5% unlike The Times who obviously never passed their Math O Level*.
You can see clearly in my working out that the fraction 4/9 drops out rather nicely to express the proportion of money raked in from commercial work and as I am sure anyone reading this knows 1/9 is 0.111111111… and so 4/9 is 0.4444444444… and to go from a decimal to a percentage all you do is times by 100 to get 44.4444444… which does not round down to 44.5 - The Times is evidently dumbing down as much as the exams!
*Although they may well have passed their English O Level - I only managed 50% on question 2. (Edit 5/12/2008 - Or 66.67% as has since been pointed out, by someone paying attention to what I have written. Oh the shame, moaning about someone elses minor error when I then go and make one of my own much bigger in size.)