Feedback on the Have Your Say survey – summer 2016 examination series

As part of our monitoring programme, we designed an online survey for learners and teachers to give us their views on the summer examinations 2016.

The online survey was open between May and July. The survey was open for comment on any examination but included a particular focus on reformed AS qualifications examined for the first time in summer 2016.

Findings of the survey

In total, we received 1076 responses, covering all 14 of the reformed AS examinations and a number of other examinations. 85% of responses were from learners and 14% were from teachers or lecturers.

Reponses for AS Biology and AS Chemistry dominated the survey. A large number of responses related to the Biology exams and raised concerns in relation to:

  • the pressures of time in the examination which often related to the amount of reading required,

  • the increased level of challenge provided by the level of application in the papers and

  • the perceived lack of opportunity to practise similar types of questions beforehand.

Some respondents suggested this could have a negative impact on motivation in the subject. Views for the Chemistry examinations were largely similar to those shared in Biology and also included comments on the challenge posed by the increased mathematical content.

Comments made in relation to other subjects were more balanced. In general:

  • there is a perception of an increased level of challenge across the reformed specifications and

  • the new specifications are felt to be more interesting and the exam questions more relevant due to contextualisation.

 

The number of responses by AS subject is shown in the following table. The open ended nature of the responses meant that further quantitative analysis would not be statistically valid. Overall figures are also given for all other GCEs and for English, Welsh, Mathematics and all other GCSEs.

 

GCE AS Subject (reformed)

Number of survey responses

Art and Design subjects

4

Biology

422

Business Studies

19

Chemistry

247

Computing

33

Economics                                                    

24

English                                                      

57

History                                                      

32

Physics                                                      

45

Psychology                                                  

41

Sociology

12

Welsh                                                  

2

GCEs Other

52

 

GCSEs

Number of survey responses

English Language/Literature                

7

Mathematics

21

Welsh Language

2

Other

39

 

Next steps

We closely monitored the awarding of the AS Biology and AS Chemistry qualifications in the summer to ensure that the issues experienced by candidates were fully considered and addressed. We are satisfied that there was no evidence of undue disadvantage or unfairness to candidates.

We have used the information gathered to inform our monitoring work and will increase our focus on AS Biology and AS Chemistry by putting in place additional monitoring of the development and award of the examinations in 2017.

In light of feedback received WJEC has reviewed the AS Biology 2017 examination papers.

 

We would like to thank all stakeholders who took part in the survey.

We will repeat the survey for the summer 2017 examination series.