Modular or Linear exams - what does it mean?

Is your child in year 9 and have they just been told about their upcoming GCSE exam? Do you have a pile of pieces of papers with different marks on for exams that you didn't even know your child had taken?

These kind of experiencs are becoming common place for parents of children in Secondary schools. There are two separate issues: Early exam entries and Modular exam courses.

To deal with the Early exam entries first as it is the simplest. For various reasons to do with the pressures put on schools about their exam results it is becoming common practice to enter students for GCSE exams as early as year 9 (13-14 years old). This is done for a range of political reasons. It can also give underachieving students a bit of a shock and the idea is to get them working harder. With other students they may achieve well and that can give them confidence going into later school years. However, mainly it has the potential to free up timetable space in years 10 and 11 to concentrate on the core subjects of Maths and English. All schools are currently (2012) judged and funded based, largely, on the percentage of students who get 5 A* - C grades including English and Maths. This is where the idea of a D being a fail grade comes from despite the fact that it is vey definitely still a qualification and anything but a fail!

The majority of early entry exams will be linear exams, meaning there is either one or two papers to sit in one exam series and the grade you achieve in that is the one that goes on your GCSE certificate. The alternative to linear courses are modular courses. These are the other type of exam a student in year 9 may be entered for. Modular courses are usually made up of two or three exams taken at different times during the GCSE course. Each one will have a score allocated to it which then can be used to give an approximate grade, at the end all the scores are totalled to give a final grade. The problem with these courses is that there are literally hundreds of different ways of working out the final grade. If you have a query about a specific modular course then contact Sheffield Private Tutors via email or by phone on 01142 219 423.


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