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