Facts, not facetiousness

26th June 2009 at 01:00
No percentage decrease in the Standard grade biology exam

Contrary to the comments made by Iain McGregor on the Standard grade biology exam (June 5), there was no "percentage decrease" calculation in the General paper. There were two "percentage increase" calculations. Such questions regularly appear in this paper where they are useful in discriminating between grade 3 and 4 candidates.

The fact that the "washing powder" question in the Credit paper involved an unfamiliar situation was the point. This was a problem-solving question which did not require remembered knowledge. Enough information was given to allow the candidates to formulate a correct answer.

The arrangements document for Standard grade biology states that candidates should be able to "comment with supporting argument on the validity of a suggested experimental procedure or procedures with regard to limitations of equipment, sources of error and possible improvements".

The question involving paramecium was not about "active transfer". The question was a test of the candidates' understanding of osmosis.

Iain McGregor's comments referred to questions worth five marks out of a total of 180 over the two papers. Even if they were accurate, they would not justify the "Blot on the landscape" headline which you gave to the article. Ask someone for their opinions, but don't make derogatory statements without checking the facts.

F Thornhill, principal assessor for Standard grade biology, Burnside, Rutherglen.

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