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SQA: Good or bad?


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Poll: SQA Good or Bad? (26 member(s) have cast votes)

SQA Good or Bad?

  1. Good (11 votes [42.31%])

    Percentage of vote: 42.31%

  2. Bad (15 votes [57.69%])

    Percentage of vote: 57.69%

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#1 Allan

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:06 PM

The SQA are hopeless, and yes I do have substantial evidence to back up my point:
  • Past Paper Solutions: For low uptake subjects the SQA refuse to issue past paper solutions, model answers, marking instructions or whatever you call them by. They claim these are "Confidential" and they cannot be given out as they are not in the public domain. How then can Leckie & Leckie publish the SQA answers, albeit they are condensed? This is clearly unfair for a candidate sitting a low uptake subject where the SQA solutions are not available. If anyone can argue with me on this one I'd like to hear it.
  • Cost of Past Papers: From Leckie & Leckie £6.99 for 4-6 years with solutions. This is outrageous. But wait...for subjects they don't publish for, the SQA charge £4 a paper. You get no answers. The argument that this is our choice is not valid - if past papers are available who in their right mind would not buy them? They give (apparently) an idea of the standard and format of the exam. Specimen Papers do not.
  • Straying from the Arrangements : In many exam papers the SQA set they examine the candidates on topics which should not appear in the exam. For example, in Higher Information Systems many of the questions set in the paper do not correspond with the syllabus set out by the SQA. Many centres have commented on this. How can you study for an exam when you don't know what could be examined?
  • Lack of Support: For some subjects support from the SQA is greater than for others. In some subjects they stick to the arrangements, they publish "Candidate Guidance Documents". For many subjects however, they do not. This is clearly unfair.
  • Mistakes in Question Papers: Last year the Standard Grade Credit Maths Paper 2 had an error in it making one question worth 5 marks invalid. They did not mark this question but that cannot make it fair. What if a candidate spent a significant period of time attempting this question which wasn't possible when they could have better spent that time checking their paper? I'm sure that was not taken into consideration. Standard Grade Graphic Communication in 2003 had a similar error. Other question papers frequently have errors in them which the invigilator draws candidates' attention to: at the same time they gain prior access to the paper when they can still communicate with other people.
  • Inconsistent Standards: Each year the level of difficulty of question papers differs. This should not happen. Each year should be of a similar level of difficulty and accessibility. The cut off scores they set do not always reflect the standard of the paper. This can disadvantage a candidate sitting an exam in a "difficult" year when they could have achieved a grade higher in an "easy" year.


#2 Martin

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:08 PM

Bad, definitely.

there are some who bat for the other side tho.
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#3 Paul

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:21 PM

SHOCKINGLY BAD
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#4 George

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:48 PM

I voted Good, because I think that they generally do a good job.

Strangely though, I do agree with all your points there blink.gif Perhaps it's because I don't think those points are major problems; they can all be fixed given a chance.

#5 Allan

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 08:09 PM

QUOTE (George @ May 25 2004, 08:48 PM)
Perhaps it's because I don't think those points are major problems; they can all be fixed given a chance.

Perhaps it's the fact that they haven't been fixed and in many ways I don't see any efforts they are making to change anything...

#6 Martin

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 10:16 PM

QUOTE (Allan @ May 25 2004, 08:09 PM)
QUOTE (George @ May 25 2004, 08:48 PM)
Perhaps it's because I don't think those points are major problems; they can all be fixed given a chance.

Perhaps it's the fact that they haven't been fixed and in many ways I don't see any efforts they are making to change anything...

Indeed Allan - they're smallish, easily fixed problems - but they never sort them.
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#7 Paul

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 12:35 PM

I agree that the problems they have start off as minor problems, but when it all begins to affect us, eg exams clashing on the same day, mistakes in papers etc etc, then thats when I see the problems as being pretty major.

They should not allow mistakes to affect our exams considering the amount of time they have to prepare and check over them. If exams are clashing because the limited amount of time, whats stopping them extending the exam period to mid-june?

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#8 thebizwiz

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 04:29 PM

If society demands more highly-skilled and qualified people, then society should ensure that adequate provisions are made for us to actually fulfil these demands.

Give us more time berween exams.
Don't make our exams clash.
Don't make us pay so much for past papers.
Don't continue your partnership with Stewart Leckie.
Don't keep making us pay for YOUR mistakes.
Don't keep making these mistakes in your papers.
Look at the paper before you send it out.

Do all of this and we may change our minds, SQA. However, it will have come late for the majority of us. I'm just angry that such an incompetent bunch of people are attempting to set our examinations - if they can't even get it right what chance have we got?
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#9 Steve

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 04:52 PM

The SQA offer about 60 subjects with each of these having different levels (Standard Grade, Int 1, Int 2, Higher, Advanced Higher). If every subject had it's own exam day, the exams would be running for 12 weeks. This would just be silly. You would have to start exams at the beginning of April!

And if you want more time between your exams you could be starting them after Christmas!

The SQA don't sell past papers so it's not their fault that they are expensive - which I agree they are. This is to do with Leckie and Leckie. Though I would be pleased if they offered the contract to someone else next year.

Out of all the papers I've sat (ever), there was one mistake that we weren't told about before the exam - that was in Higher Physics 2003. I agree that this shouldn't happen, but I don't think it's a major problem.

I'm not saying they are perfect but I think they are pretty good. I think you'll find that if you have contact with them directly, they are generally very helpful, take complains seriously and help out if you have any questions. biggrin.gif
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#10 Allan

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 05:05 PM

QUOTE (Steve @ May 26 2004, 05:52 PM)
I'm not saying they are perfect but I think they are pretty good. I think you'll find that if you have contact with them directly, they are generally very helpful, take complains seriously and help out if you have any questions. biggrin.gif

They do usually reply to you, but they just brush you off with some pathetic excuse e.g. "The official answers and marking schemes produced by SQA are regarded as confidential and not within the public domain." tongue.gif

#11 Paul

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 05:14 PM

QUOTE (Steve @ May 26 2004, 04:52 PM)

The SQA don't sell past papers so it's not their fault that they are expensive - which I agree they are. This is to do with Leckie and Leckie. Though I would be pleased if they offered the contract to someone else next year.

Out of all the papers I've sat (ever), there was one mistake that we weren't told about before the exam - that was in Higher Physics 2003. I agree that this shouldn't happen, but I don't think it's a major problem.


The SQA do sell past papers, each single paper at £4 each without the answers. So I agree that past papers from the SQA are pretty expensive.

You have only had one mistake in your exams but I have read bout plenty of other mistakes. This IS a major problem as they should have these mistakes sorted before issuing them to the centres. They have plenty of time to do so. It would be considered not that bad if it was sorted in good time, but to let it get as far as getting into our exam room is major. If they have such qualified and professional ppl making these exams up, then mistakes should be easily identified and changed.

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#12 Dave

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 06:41 PM

a lot of people are saying the past papers are too expensive but they are still cheaper than a chart music album

This is the way it has always been and how else are the sqa goin got get money because iot doesn't come from goverment and you can't seriously think £34 will cover the production, marking and setting of grades not to mention the production of certificates

No-one is forced to buy past papers you buy them because you think its worth it to do well so invest in your education and stop moaning

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#13 Paul

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:04 PM

Dave, I agree - we should invest in our education.

But what about sum ppl who cant afford to buy past papers? Like those, unlike us, who come from very low income families and dont have jobs?!

Those ppl who cant afford past papers know they are worth while buying them but cant afford them coz they are so expensive.

I have another point to make -

I wouldnt be moaning bout past papers if they were reliable. I got Higher Maths Past Papers last year and they were full of mistakes. I photocopied the mistakes and made amends to them and emailed them back to leckie and leckie who told me that it was SQA who made the mistake and they would pass me on to the SQA representative for Higher Maths and I would receive a reply from the SQA shortly.

That was last year and as yet I have not had a letter from them! Not even a simple letter of apology!

Oh yeh, and the SQA are a really good organisation?!
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#14 Dave

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:10 PM

you can't really say that because i find it very hard to believe that someone can't afford £6.99 for a past paper book as far as i can see its a matter of priority for these people and if they would rather send the money on something else them they can have every right to do so but they are only hurting themselves

The complient you had with the SQA at the end there was to do with customer service and thats a very important part of any company but its run by people who don't who what is happening and who generally aren't very quick on the up take on information but that is the way of the world and can't be taken as a symbol of the SQA's attitude to pupils or there centres

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#15 Allan

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:13 PM

Dave I have to say I disagree with you over the past papers.

Some people in Scotland are very poor, and really can't afford past papers at £6.99 each when they need to buy 5 of them - thats almost £35.

For some people they just can't spend that kind of money freely

#16 Dave

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:14 PM

the only complient i think people can have is with Leckie & leckie in that all past papers are the same price regradless of physical size of the book. however, i don't know that it would make much difference maybe only pennies

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#17 Paul

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:18 PM

Dave, It wasnt the customer service staff that was dealing with me. It was the SQAs representative for Higher Maths. ]

If it was customer service, I would have said that but it wasnt.



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#18 Paul

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:20 PM

QUOTE (Allan @ May 26 2004, 07:13 PM)
Dave I have to say I disagree with you over the past papers.

Some people in Scotland are very poor, and really can't afford past papers at £6.99 each when they need to buy 5 of them - thats almost £35.

For some people they just can't spend that kind of money freely

Exellent point!!

Dave, have you any respect for the poorer ppl of our society? Doesnt sound like it.
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#19 Dave

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:43 PM

i just find it hard to accept that this country has people how are so poor they cannot work out a way to spend £6.99 for past papers. People have benifits and i have to think they are spending money on what they want effectively wasting the money instead of buying past papers

however, should such a person exist i would find it also hard to believe that the school wouldn't provide past papers. At my school only maths insisted on them being bought and one person didn't and got a pile to take home. This wasn't because he was poor he just couldn't be bothered to goout and get them

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#20 Paul

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 07:47 PM

QUOTE (Dave @ May 26 2004, 07:43 PM)
i just find it hard to accept that this country has people how are so poor they cannot work out a way to spend £6.99 for past papers. People have benifits and i have to think they are spending money on what they want effectively wasting the money instead of buying past papers

however, should such a person exist i would find it also hard to believe that the school wouldn't provide past papers. At my school only maths insisted on them being bought and one person didn't and got a pile to take home. This wasn't because he was poor he just couldn't be bothered to goout and get them

ppl get benefits - yeh, but not ppl who are at school under 18 and live with their parents. Parents may also have benefits but thats harldy enuf for the family to live on never mind buy past papers.

Also, your school may issue past papers to pupils without hesitation, but my school - as I'm sure many other schools as well - are very strict when it comes to the copyright law. Many schools abide by the law and do not issue past papers. I have ppl at my school in the situation I described above who are unable to buy past papers

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