Are you smarter than a 16-year old?

I stumbled across this quiz on the BBC Magazine’s website, and thought it was very apt considering this was GCSE results week.

Unfortunately, the results didn’t bode well for the science community, with science grades being down over 7% nationally. This has been mostly attributed to the introduction of new syllabuses and exams. GCSEs in general have received a thorough shake-up since the new government came into power, with boundaries being altered each year so that roughly the same proportion of students get each grade as in previous years. This may have led to students not quite reaching the grades they had hoped for, as boundaries were shifted up to keep the proportions correct.

Grades for separate sciences fell by a smaller amount, which could suggest that treating each science as a different subject may have a positive effect. Unfortunately, not every school offers this choice. Personally, I noticed at sixth form that pupils who had taken separate sciences at GCSE level knew chemistry in much greater detail than us who had taken double science GCSEs, and it took a bit of catch-up during the AS year to reach the same level as them.

For me, if we want students to do better in science, particularly chemistry, they need to learn more about the applications of the science and how they could take it forward through their education. Practical lessons in GCSE chemistry are generally very poor, and contain little to no elements of synthesis. How can we possibly expect pupils to want to be passionate about chemistry if they’re not learning about what it really is and what it involves?  This is something I’m particularly interested in, and I’d very much like one day to be involved in changing the way science is taught in school.

Meanwhile, why don’t you take the quiz, and see how you fare with some typical GCSE science exam questions?

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