Dear Sir/Madam, You will have seen a lot of social media activity

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Dear Sir/Madam,
You will have seen a lot of social media activity about our GCSE Biology exam, where
students have been talking about questions on ‘independent companies’, ‘drunken rats’ and
‘underage drinking’.
We want to ensure that students can concentrate on their upcoming exams rather than
worrying unnecessarily about this paper. This email will provide you with all the information
you need to respond to any student queries that you receive about this matter.
All of our question papers are subject to rigorous quality checks and are thoroughly
scrutinised before they are sat by students. We use panels of senior examiners who are
subject experts, practising teachers and language experts to ensure that our questions are a
correct and fair assessment of the science within our specifications.
Students taking to social media to criticise exams is a growing trend, so we’re not surprised
by this – and it probably won’t be the only time it happens this summer. But we’re confident
that there was nothing wrong with our exam paper.
We’d like to talk you through the main issues that were raised:
Unit Biology B1 common questions Foundation tier Q7/Higher tier Q1 Issue 1
1 (b) (i) ­ Asking what an Independent Company is ­ which many comments said was a
business studies question.
This question is linked to the drug trial question which focussed on the idea of bias. This is
part of the syllabus. We have asked questions about this before.
Issue 2 1(c) ­ The scenario ie underage drinking in 15 year olds and their alcohol habits.
This is based on real data from a real survey. The context of the whole question is about the
drug trials to consider ways to help people stop drinking and the ‘poor’ conclusions drawn
from an invalid data set, and therefore is about the issues related to alcohol (1.3.1).
1(c) (i) ­ This is purely data analysis (AO2) using only information from the table (this is
clearly indicated), the question is therefore analysis based and in no way is asking pupils
what ‘boys favourite drinks are’.
1(c) (ii) ­ The candidates are asked to give a reason why the newspapers’ conclusion is not
valid (AO3). This question sits in section 1.3.1 of the specification regarding drugs, trials and
the idea of bias. In addition, the question refers to 200 people being surveyed, not all 15 year
olds in the country, so this is about validity.
Issue 3
Narrow coverage of Biology content in the paper.
In terms of inferred narrow specification coverage. There are 14 key areas in BL1, of which 9
areas were examined on the HP this year. We do not want our papers to be predictable and
ensure that all content is assessed across the series.
I hope the information we have provided helps answers any questions that you or your
students may have.
Yours sincerely,
Niall Keating
Customer Support Manager
GCSE Science
E: [email protected] T: 01483 477 756
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