O Level Bell Curve

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/singapore/comments/73cmgi/o_level_bellcurve/

It is well known that the “bell curve” is applied to the O Levels result. The most notorious example is E Maths, where 90+ or high 80s is required for the top grade of A1. The traditional mark of 75 is only enough for B3/B4 in the actual O levels.

Update: According to official sources, “grade boundaries” instead of bell curve is being applied to O Levels / A Levels. Technically, there is a subtle difference between the two since the bell curve refers to the normal distribution in statistics. Hence, technically, “bell curve” is not applied to O levels. However, for laymen, “grade boundaries” and “bell curve” are essentially the same thing, meaning that the percentage of A1s or As is being externally controlled by the examiners in the form of “grade boundaries”. It is definitely not the case that 75 marks is sufficient for A1 in ‘O’ Levels, or 70 marks is sufficient for A in ‘A’ Levels. It is being moderated and controlled via the “grade boundaries” determined by Cambridge which depends on the difficulty of the paper and possibly other factors like the cohort’s overall performance.

The quintessential discussion on bell curve in O Levels is this Reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/SGExams/comments/c1jqzr/o_levels_no_bell_curve/.

According to multiple users on Reddit, the bell curve estimate for Maths in 2016 is:

Emath: 95

Estimated a 92. Was pretty confident that I’ll get an A1. My math teacher even said that it’ll be ~88 due to the difficulty of the paper. Ended up with an A2 zzz.

Amath: 90

Paper 1 was tricky but paper 2 was manageable. Same thing as above. Estimated a 87, but got an A2.

“2015 O levels, I got double A1s for both maths. My E-Math estimate is on 96% and A-Math on 90%. The curve on E-Math is far steeper than A-Math, but if you wanna get the double A1s, grind and aim for perfection.”

For the A2/B3 grade, it is less demanding, but still significantly above 70:

Bellcurve is always unfavourable to E Maths student but kinda favourable to A Maths student.

I think I only got 78-79% for E Maths and I got A2 in the end.

While for A Maths, I know I only got 60-64% and in the end B3.

Other sources like Kiasuparents gave the following estimate:

Even if people minus a lot of marks for working… The emath A1 won’t be less than 85.. The paper is too easy. That’s why They moderate the bell curve up by so much.

And not only my teachers, but teachers in other schools as well have told their students that if they think a score of ~75 can get them an A1, they should b expecting a B3/B4 instead.


Do you have any experience with the bell curve? Share your experience in the comments below!

Education News: Princeton University abolishes “Bell Curve” (O Level Bell Curve)

O Level Bell Curve Discussion

With the O Levels and A Levels coming up, a recent topic of talk is what the “Bell Curve” will be like. Some subjects, especially O Level E Maths, are notorious for having a extremely high bell curve. Students allegedly need more than 90 marks to secure an A1 for E Maths (Elementary Maths) at the O Levels.

Will the O Level abolish the “Bell Curve” system one day? Virtually nobody likes the “Bell Curve” system, other than those at the top of the curve. Some bad points about the “Bell Curve” system is that students can become quite competitve, as they know that the number of As is limited. Ideally, cooperation and discussion among students are needed to improve their knowledge. Students who help one another create a friendly and conducive environment for learning.

What do you think? Post your comments below!

Source: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/new-jersey-more/item/73702-princeton-nixes-suggested-limit-on-a-grades

Princeton University's Blair Tower photographed from above (Alan Tu/WHYY)

Rest easy, Tigers. Princeton University is reversing its longstanding policy on “A” grades.

For the last 10 years, the school’s official grading policy has recommended that professors don’t award A’s to more than 35 percent of students in undergraduate classes.

It was meant to remedy the rampant grade inflation that had taken place on campus in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Since the policy took effect, the number of A’s awarded dropped and grade deflation began to set in.

But the policy had unintended side effects.

“Many students commented that the atmosphere on campus had become overly competitive,” said engineering professor Dr. Clancy Rowley. “They were intentionally not helping each other for fear that the other student would get the A grade at their expense.”

Read more at: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/new-jersey-more/item/73702-princeton-nixes-suggested-limit-on-a-grades


Featured book:

Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth