Maths in the Army.

#41
I was curious as to what you needed to score a C, and how hard the questions are. A minute on Google turned up this:

How many marks you needed to get GCSE grades A* to G this year and last

It's Wales, but good enough. Apparently on the Higher tier paper, in 2017, you only need 32 out of 160 to get a C. That's 20%. My dog could probably guess 20%. Even an "A", you didn't even need to get the majority right. 76/160 would have got you an "A" in 2017. Or to put it another way, you could get more than half the questions wrong and still get an A.

So what are the questions like? Here's an example paper:

https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/sample-papers-and-mark-schemes/2017/november/AQA-83001H-QP-NOV17.PDF

The biggest thing is understanding the terminology. If you don't know what a trapezium is, or what pi is, one may struggle. But there's nothing complicated about "a 4-sided shape, two sides being parallel", or "number of times the diameter of a circle fits in its circumference". Any GCSE textbook should have this in it.

I'd say just get a GCSE maths book, read it cover to cover 3 or 4 times, and go sit the paper. Don't worry about any harder bits, like simultaneous equations or inequalities. You only have to score 20%, it seems.

What boggles my mind is that there must be some people who sit these papers and fail them. Example question (from the higher tier paper):

15 (a) - Meal Deal. Choose one sandwich, one drink and one snack

There are
7 different sandwiches
5 different drinks and 3 different snacks.
How many different Meal Deal combinations are there?

There is also the intermediate tier, and even the foundation tier. The foundation tier can't get high enough for a C, but might be a stepping stone to that 20% on the higher paper.

<<shakes head, muttering "twenty fcuking percent" to himself>>
 
#42
I was curious as to what you needed to score a C, and how hard the questions are. A minute on Google turned up this:

How many marks you needed to get GCSE grades A* to G this year and last

It's Wales, but good enough. Apparently on the Higher tier paper, in 2017, you only need 32 out of 160 to get a C. That's 20%. My dog could probably guess 20%. Even an "A", you didn't even need to get the majority right. 76/160 would have got you an "A" in 2017. Or to put it another way, you could get more than half the questions wrong and still get an A.

So what are the questions like? Here's an example paper:

https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/sample-papers-and-mark-schemes/2017/november/AQA-83001H

-QP-NOV17.PDF

The biggest thing is understanding the terminology. If you don't know what a trapezium is, or what pi is, one may struggle. But there's nothing complicated about "a 4-sided shape, two sides being parallel", or "number of times the diameter of a circle fits in its circumference". Any GCSE textbook should have this in it.

I'd say just get a GCSE maths book, read it cover to cover 3 or 4 times, and go sit the paper. Don't worry about any harder bits, like simultaneous equations or inequalities. You only have to score 20%, it seems.

What boggles my mind is that there must be some people who sit these papers and fail them. Example question (from the higher tier paper):

15 (a) - Meal Deal. Choose one sandwich, one drink and one snack

There are
7 different sandwiches
5 different drinks and 3 different snacks.
How many different Meal Deal combinations are there?

There is also the intermediate tier, and even the foundation tier. The foundation tier can't get high enough for a C, but might be a stepping stone to that 20% on the higher paper.

<<shakes head, muttering "twenty fcuking percent" to himself>>
I'll do a proper answer when I get home and have a sensible sized screen. I have to ask, you do know that's a non-calculator paper don't you?

Edit - unfucked quotes
 
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#45
I'll do a proper answer when I get home and have a sensible sized screen. I have to ask, you do know that's a non-calculator paper don't you?
Yes, of course. As usual, a calculator wouldn’t be much help anyway.
 
#46
Are you allowed scrap paper?
Pass, I don't teach maths. It definitely used to be the case that candidates were allowed extra paper to continue an answer if they ran out of room so I presume so.

Most papers allow space for working out, anything that the candidate doesn't want to be marked can be crossed out. Likewise, the bits that say 'Do not write on this page' just means the candidate won't get credit for anything written there, not that it must be left blank.
 
#48
Yes, of course. As usual, a calculator wouldn’t be much help anyway.
Really? Take the question you quoted about the meal deal. With a calculator I can do the actual calculation in under 2 seconds. Without it takes a bit longer and increases the chance of a mistake.
 
#50
Really? Take the question you quoted about the meal deal. With a calculator I can do the actual calculation in under 2 seconds. Without it takes a bit longer and increases the chance of a mistake.
Seriously? 7 x 5 x 3 needs a calculator to reduce execution time and reduce errors?

Maybe I'm overestimating the average man on the Clapham Omnibus, but I would have thought I could have done that calculation in my head when I was 9 or 10. Whenever I'd finished learning the times tables - about 40 years ago. It comes down to 35 x 3 or 7 x 15 or 5 x 21 whichever way you cut it, and if one needs a calculator to do those sums, well, as I say, maybe I overestimate the average person.
 
#51
how many pedantic twats does it take to change an incandescent lamp?
In Yorkshire three, one to say aye, one to say neigh lad, and one to make the tea. in Norfolk I wouldn't trust the count.
 
#52
I propose another simple test. Whitch number is higher
A. 2/5 or 1/3
B. -3 or -4
C. TAN(1) or SIN(1)
3 right answers and - you'r in the army now.

Sorry, you can’t join.
Adding a made up words to your question ruled you out.
 
#53
Yes, of course. As usual, a calculator wouldn’t be much help anyway.
I did my EPC A in Münster and we had a visit from the Director of Army Education. He did his spiel and at the end did the usual “any questions?”

One of the lads asked “why can’t we use calculators?” To which he replied- and I shít you not - “Long division is good for the soul son”
 
#54
OK, don't take this as attacking you or calling you stupid. I am a pedantic bastard and there are a lot of things most people don't get about the exam system.

I was curious as to what you needed to score a C, and how hard the questions are. A minute on Google turned up this:

How many marks you needed to get GCSE grades A* to G this year and last

It's Wales, but good enough. Apparently on the Higher tier paper, in 2017, you only need 32 out of 160 to get a C. That's 20%. My dog could probably guess 20%. Even an "A", you didn't even need to get the majority right. 76/160 would have got you an "A" in 2017. Or to put it another way, you could get more than half the questions wrong and still get an A.
Those grade boundaries are representative of the previous pass rates. As the new GCSEs have been introduced, the percentage of grades must be the same to ensure consistency. That means if 40% of students got a C grade in 2016, the grade boundaries in 2017 will have been adjusted to get 40% of students a C grade. The same with A and G grades with intervening grades done by some mathematical witchcraft.

The grade boundaries are no longer pegged to previous cohorts and will rise each year. Just for example, to get a grade 9 in AQA higher maths in 2017 required 189 marks out of 240, a year later it was 201 - 2017 boundaries, 2018 boundaries

https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/sample-papers-and-mark-schemes/2017/november/AQA-83001H-QP-NOV17.PDF
Right, that is an AQA paper and the grade boundaries you quoted earlier are from WJEC. Different exam boards, different grade systems, different grade boundaries, different content. AQA follow the English system (grades are 9-1, only one subject of 'mathematics', no formulae given), WJEC are a Welsh exam board (not that I know much about them but apparently different subjects of 'maths' and 'maths numeracy', grades as A*-G, formulae given at the start of the paper).

As it happens the AQA grade boundaries are similar, slightly fewer marks needed for a C equivalent but slightly more needed for top grades - https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/over/stat_pdf/AQA-GCSE-RF-GDE-BDY-JUN-2017.PDF
A direct comparison is difficult as a 4 is a 'low C' and a 5 is a 'high C'; likewise an 8 is an 'A* equivalent' and a 9 is an 'A** equivalent'.

The biggest thing is understanding the terminology.
I beg to differ. The hardest thing is being able to recognise what a question is asking in terms of the method and then rapidly apply that method to the values given.

Take this question from the AQA paper:
polygon.jpg

I reckon most maths biffs could work out what the question is asking (apart from congruent it's fairly straightforward). The answer requires working out that the 60' angle is bisected by the joint edge, therefore 30' is on each side of that line, therefore the exterior angle of one polygon is 30' so the number of edges is 360/30 = 12, a tad more complicated. I'd actually forgotten how to work out sides from angles and was going by interior angles until I googled the method.

I'd say just get a GCSE maths book, read it cover to cover 3 or 4 times, and go sit the paper. Don't worry about any harder bits, like simultaneous equations or inequalities. You only have to score 20%, it seems.
I wouldn't, especially if they are paying to sit the exam. I would do some work and then do a past paper under exam conditions, then get someone who knows what they are doing to mark it. That will give a pretty good indication of what standard they are at without all the fuss of doing the exam for real.

What boggles my mind is that there must be some people who sit these papers and fail them. Example question (from the higher tier paper):

15 (a) - Meal Deal. Choose one sandwich, one drink and one snack

There are
7 different sandwiches
5 different drinks and 3 different snacks.
How many different Meal Deal combinations are there?
Yep, that's worth 2 marks. When you know what you are doing multiplying everything together is obvious and easy. If you're a C grade student in the pressure of an exam situation it might be a tad harder. Even when you've got that right you've still got another 14 marks to go. Get 15 marks or less it's a fail. Zero. Nothing.

Then bear in mind that questions are chosen to provide a range of challenge - higher papers are required to have questions at every level from C to A**. Picking out the odd easy question and suggesting it's all that easy is a tad annoying.

There is also the intermediate tier, and even the foundation tier. The foundation tier can't get high enough for a C, but might be a stepping stone to that 20% on the higher paper.
Only for the Welsh. AQA and Edexcel have higher or foundation tiers. Higher is 9-4, Foundation is 5-1.

Seriously? 7 x 5 x 3 needs a calculator to reduce execution time and reduce errors?
Well, I would say so. Given that the alternative is written working, I would say using a calculator would both reduce time taken and errors made, wouldn't you? I was just making the point this is a non-calculator paper, something that many people forget when criticising maths papers and thinking the papers are easier than they really are.

Maybe I'm overestimating the average man on the Clapham Omnibus, but I would have thought I could have done that calculation in my head when I was 9 or 10. Whenever I'd finished learning the times tables - about 40 years ago. It comes down to 35 x 3 or 7 x 15 or 5 x 21 whichever way you cut it, and if one needs a calculator to do those sums, well, as I say, maybe I overestimate the average person.
With respect, you and Joe Bloggs are not the target audience. You now have the benefit of 40+ years of using maths at a high level (you were Signals?) and a lot of the fundamentals have been drilled into your head by constant repetition. Basic mental calculation is not the issue here.

What is being tested is 16 year olds under pressure who do not have that level of experience. To look at that question, work out what is being asked, identify the correct method and perform the calculation in under 2 minutes is a reasonable challenge for an easy question.

Then there are the wide variety of questions on stuff I'm damn sure I was never taught and I frequently have to tell kids that when they ask for help in free lessons. My basic maths skills are good, I can do probability, gradients, standard form, simultaneous equations, all of the useful functional maths that's relevant to my job and I could probably still do trigonometry and basic calculus if pushed hard enough. Asking me to find the sides of a triangle in terms of b, even if I do know the value of one angle and that two sides are the same length is like asking a badger to wire in a lighting circuit. Amusing but utterly pointless.

To be clear, I think the level of basic mathematical literacy among the current school generation is pretty poor. I would much rather the focus was on functional maths rather than the (in my opinion) esoteric weird shit that they seem determined to crowbar into every question. Being able to quickly estimate an answer to a calculation is more valuable to me than being able to spend 5 minutes working out a value of 3/5 to the power -5/7.

With that said, the current exams from what I have seen are not easy. If you think I'm talking bollocks choose a set of GCSE maths exams you haven't seen and do them in exam conditions. I would be genuinely interested in seeing what you got. 20 quid to charity of your choice if you get a 7, 50 quid for a 9 :)
 
#56
OK, don't take this as attacking you or calling you stupid. I am a pedantic bastard and there are a lot of things most people don't get about the exam system.


Those grade boundaries are representative of the previous pass rates. As the new GCSEs have been introduced, the percentage of grades must be the same to ensure consistency. That means if 40% of students got a C grade in 2016, the grade boundaries in 2017 will have been adjusted to get 40% of students a C grade. The same with A and G grades with intervening grades done by some mathematical witchcraft.

The grade boundaries are no longer pegged to previous cohorts and will rise each year. Just for example, to get a grade 9 in AQA higher maths in 2017 required 189 marks out of 240, a year later it was 201 - 2017 boundaries, 2018 boundaries

https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/sample-papers-and-mark-schemes/2017/november/AQA-83001H-QP-NOV17.PDF
Right, that is an AQA paper and the grade boundaries you quoted earlier are from WJEC. Different exam boards, different grade systems, different grade boundaries, different content. AQA follow the English system (grades are 9-1, only one subject of 'mathematics', no formulae given), WJEC are a Welsh exam board (not that I know much about them but apparently different subjects of 'maths' and 'maths numeracy', grades as A*-G, formulae given at the start of the paper).

As it happens the AQA grade boundaries are similar, slightly fewer marks needed for a C equivalent but slightly more needed for top grades - https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/over/stat_pdf/AQA-GCSE-RF-GDE-BDY-JUN-2017.PDF
A direct comparison is difficult as a 4 is a 'low C' and a 5 is a 'high C'; likewise an 8 is an 'A* equivalent' and a 9 is an 'A** equivalent'.


I beg to differ. The hardest thing is being able to recognise what a question is asking in terms of the method and then rapidly apply that method to the values given.

Take this question from the AQA paper:
View attachment 394001
I reckon most maths biffs could work out what the question is asking (apart from congruent it's fairly straightforward). The answer requires working out that the 60' angle is bisected by the joint edge, therefore 30' is on each side of that line, therefore the exterior angle of one polygon is 30' so the number of edges is 360/30 = 12, a tad more complicated. I'd actually forgotten how to work out sides from angles and was going by interior angles until I googled the method.


I wouldn't, especially if they are paying to sit the exam. I would do some work and then do a past paper under exam conditions, then get someone who knows what they are doing to mark it. That will give a pretty good indication of what standard they are at without all the fuss of doing the exam for real.


Yep, that's worth 2 marks. When you know what you are doing multiplying everything together is obvious and easy. If you're a C grade student in the pressure of an exam situation it might be a tad harder. Even when you've got that right you've still got another 14 marks to go. Get 15 marks or less it's a fail. Zero. Nothing.

Then bear in mind that questions are chosen to provide a range of challenge - higher papers are required to have questions at every level from C to A**. Picking out the odd easy question and suggesting it's all that easy is a tad annoying.


Only for the Welsh. AQA and Edexcel have higher or foundation tiers. Higher is 9-4, Foundation is 5-1.


Well, I would say so. Given that the alternative is written working, I would say using a calculator would both reduce time taken and errors made, wouldn't you? I was just making the point this is a non-calculator paper, something that many people forget when criticising maths papers and thinking the papers are easier than they really are.


With respect, you and Joe Bloggs are not the target audience. You now have the benefit of 40+ years of using maths at a high level (you were Signals?) and a lot of the fundamentals have been drilled into your head by constant repetition. Basic mental calculation is not the issue here.

What is being tested is 16 year olds under pressure who do not have that level of experience. To look at that question, work out what is being asked, identify the correct method and perform the calculation in under 2 minutes is a reasonable challenge for an easy question.

Then there are the wide variety of questions on stuff I'm damn sure I was never taught and I frequently have to tell kids that when they ask for help in free lessons. My basic maths skills are good, I can do probability, gradients, standard form, simultaneous equations, all of the useful functional maths that's relevant to my job and I could probably still do trigonometry and basic calculus if pushed hard enough. Asking me to find the sides of a triangle in terms of b, even if I do know the value of one angle and that two sides are the same length is like asking a badger to wire in a lighting circuit. Amusing but utterly pointless.

To be clear, I think the level of basic mathematical literacy among the current school generation is pretty poor. I would much rather the focus was on functional maths rather than the (in my opinion) esoteric weird shit that they seem determined to crowbar into every question. Being able to quickly estimate an answer to a calculation is more valuable to me than being able to spend 5 minutes working out a value of 3/5 to the power -5/7.

With that said, the current exams from what I have seen are not easy. If you think I'm talking bollocks choose a set of GCSE maths exams you haven't seen and do them in exam conditions. I would be genuinely interested in seeing what you got. 20 quid to charity of your choice if you get a 7, 50 quid for a 9 :)
OK, fair enough. I'm well out of touch on GCSE grades and exam systems. As it goes, one of my daughters in the UK is taking maths GCSE tomorrow :)

I won't take your money. 25-ish years ago I was on my T3 tech course in the Army. The first two weeks were maths. One lad got 4%. Four percent. Unfortunately for him, my result validated the exam with 97%. 4% > bin. I would expect a similar result if I did the paper I saw earlier today.

As an instructor on the same course years later, I was shocked at how crap the general level of maths was, of the kids coming into the Army. I'm with you that some maths is seemingly just for maths' sake, but I can't for the life of me understand how people can function as contributing members of society without understanding basic maths (and English). I don't mean being able to do the calculations with a calculator and a maybe a crib sheet, I mean UNDERSTAND the calculation. In business say, spreadsheets are common. How does one create a formula that say adds a markup, or tax, or both, without understanding basic maths?
 
#57
I won't take your money. 25-ish years ago I was on my T3 tech course in the Army. The first two weeks were maths. One lad got 4%. Four percent. Unfortunately for him, my result validated the exam with 97%. 4% > bin. I would expect a similar result if I did the paper I saw earlier today.
Ta very much, I shall donate it to a pub of my choice instead in return for beverages. Although if you get bored and do the papers (exam conditions, don't need to be done at the same time) let me know about how you get on, if only so I can mention it to the Aussie maths teacher to piss him off.

As an instructor on the same course years later, I was shocked at how crap the general level of maths was, of the kids coming into the Army. I'm with you that some maths is seemingly just for maths' sake, but I can't for the life of me understand how people can function as contributing members of society without understanding basic maths (and English). I don't mean being able to do the calculations with a calculator and a maybe a crib sheet, I mean UNDERSTAND the calculation. In business say, spreadsheets are common. How does one create a formula that say adds a markup, or tax, or both, without understanding basic maths?
On that you and I are in total agreement. It still baffles me when students are given an exam question, have a guess / bash numbers into a calculator and then write down their answer without even considering if it's vaguely plausible. I had an A level student asked to calculate the concentration of a liquid last year and they came out with an answer that would have been in mulitple tons per litre. They didn't even stop to think about the answer and try to second guess it or say "That looks wrong, I'd better try again".

My current crusade is on units in calculations. I cannot understand how someone can be asked to calculate a density, be given values in grams and centimetres cubed and do the calculation correctly but give units of grams for density.
 
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#58
Ta very much, I shall donate it to a pub of my choice instead in return for beverages. Although if you get bored and do the papers (exam conditions, don't need to be done at the same time) let me know about how you get on, if only so I can mention it to the Aussie maths teacher to piss him off.


On that you and I are in total agreement. It still baffles me when students are given an exam question, have a guess / bash numbers into a calculator and then write down their answer without even considering if it's vaguely plausible. I had an A level student asked to calculate the concentration of a liquid last year and they came out with an answer that would have been in mulitple tons per litre. They didn't even stop to think about the answer and try to second guess it or say "That looks wrong, I'd better try again".

My current crusade is on units in calculations. I cannot understand how someone can be asked to calculate a density, be given values in grams and centimetres cubed and do the calculation correctly but give units of grams for density.
"Calculate the current in this series circuit with a 1K ohm resistor and 12V battery"

"Is it 1.2 MegaAmps, Sgt?"

"No it fcuking isn't, you díckhead".
 
#59
"Calculate the current in this series circuit with a 1K ohm resistor and 12V battery"

"Is it 1.2 MegaAmps, Sgt?"

"No it fcuking isn't, you díckhead".
Ah, so you were still allowed 'robust feedback' then :) At least they got the Amps bit right and didn't go for Joules or some other random unit.

PS - 1.2x10-2 amps, right? Stupid lack of superscript
 
#60
Ah, so you were still allowed 'robust feedback' then :) At least they got the Amps bit right and didn't go for Joules or some other random unit.

PS - 1.2x10-2 amps, right? Stupid lack of superscript
At school, yes. In engineering, 12 x 10-3 Amps, or 12mA (groups of 3). Anything outside of a few hundred amps down to a few microamps (in a radio receiver circuit) would be highly suspicious. Not if you're in a power station switchyard I suppose, but outside that, it's just implausible.

I was pot FofS, and remember on the entrance exam, there was a question regarding the mechanics of a bomb falling from an aircraft, with release point to be calculated or something like that. I worked it out and the answer was implausible, because the question said to ignore wind resistance. It was something like release the bomb 40KM from the target or something. I just wrote down the answer and commentary on it being either a garbage answer or a garbage question. I knew the exam cell quite well, being an instructor, so when the results came out, I went and asked them, and they confirmed it was a poor question.
 

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