It’s not just physics exams that are dumbed down in Britain, biology exams are too. Here’s a question from AQA’s GCSE Unit 1 Biology exam, taken on 2oth June 2007:
Every December the European Commission makes proposals for cod fishing quotas in European Union (EU) waters. These quotas take into account data obtained by scientists.
Scientists calculate what proportion of the cod stock is being caught each year. They do this by working out the numbers in each age-group of cod.
Every year the fishermen say the scientists are exaggerating the danger to the stocks in the North Sea. The scientists say the fishermen are threatening their own long-term livelihoods by ignoring their warnings of a collapse of cod populations.
The scientists say that fishermen go only to parts of the sea where there are a lot of cod, so they get the wrong idea of the number of cod in the whole area.
(a) The scientists and the fishermen have different opinions about the size of the cod population. Explain why. (2 Marks)
(b) The final decision on how many cod the fishermen are allowed to catch may not depend entirely on the data produced by the scientists. Suggest two reasons for this.
Instead of making the exams easier, why doesn’t the government go the whole hog and give everyone a certificate on their first day of school saying they’ve passed 10 GCSEs. That way, the number of exam passes will be even higher, and the kids won’t have to go through the tedious rigmarole of pretending to learn the pretend science in the syllabuses.