Research and analysis

An evaluation of the item difficulty in AS and A level maths

Comparing the difficulty of items in sample AS and A level maths assessment materials from 2016 and 2017 with those from 2015.


A level and AS mathematics: An evaluation of the expected item difficulty

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In 2016 and 2017, exam boards submitted draft AS and A level mathematics specifications to Ofqual for the purposes of accreditation for first teaching in 2017. Ofqual carried out several phases of comparative judgement studies of the relative expected difficulty of items from the 2015 legacy specifications together with items from the 2016 and 2017 sample assessment materials (SAMs).

The overall objective of this exercise was to be able to compare the profile of item difficulty within the SAMs with that of the corresponding 2015 assessments. A variety of other factors such as assessment structure (modular or linear) and changes to content were also considered by the accreditation panel in 2016 and 2017, alongside the expected difficulty of items estimated by comparative judgement reported here.

Published 25 January 2018