Was the S282 astronomy exam too hard this year?

Although it’s not possible to make direct comparisons between the figures from 2009, it is possible to make a few observations about the spread of those marks.

The breakdown in the Autumn 2009 Sesame gives the breakdown of grades 1 to 4 (the four pass grades) as 22.9%, 23.6%, 22.2% and 15.6% (thus 15.7% failed it, or, for the more optimistic, 84.3% passed it).

Because we only have the marks in part 1 (the multiple choice bit) and part 2 (the two short answer sections), it’s not possible to just add the figures we have together. However, since the grade ones in part 2 totalled 4% and grades 1 and 2 in part 2 totalled 20%, it seems sure that the overall spread of marks this year is substantially below that of 2009.

That an exam is particularly difficult or particularly easy in any given year shouldn’t matter as marks are generally “adjusted” on the basis that, on average, a given cohort of students should be similar to any other cohort and therefore should get similar marks hence the marks are generally adjusted. That doesn’t seem to have happened this year though.

Or maybe they have and something threw a spanner in the works? Like the very oddly distributed marks of question 16 perhaps?

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