I was hunting through the radio four shows on iplayer and discovered this Punt and Dennis sketch show which is a jolly good laugh and generally correct however they did touch on a subject that makes me very very angry, which is about the new grading system for A Levels.
What everyone seems to think is that they've just added on some marks which is not true, currently the marking system works as follows:a U is less than 40%, an E is 40-49%, a D is 50-59%, a C is 60-69%, a B is 70-79% and an A is 80-100%. The idea of the new A* grade is to award the students with high As (90%+) with a little more recognition. I went to a very good school "top 5% of the country" we were often told and I had many friends who insisted upon retaking exams if they got less than 90%, even though they already has A grades; although I found this insane, I am pleased that these sort of students will get something more for their extra efforts.
As far as the "Exams are too easy" mentality goes, it makes me pretty irrate. Life is very difficult and youths today in many ways have stresses and expectations of them that were perhaps not present in previous years. I'm an intelligent person, I went to a very good school, I was a member of Mensa and I study Theoretical Physics, but I didn't do as well as I should have done because of the stresses and strains of modern life and the pressures that we feel today. I felt completely demoralised and what didn't help was sitting in the pub after, watching the news on the TVs they seem to have in all pubs these days, and seeing the BBC go on and on about how easy exams were.
Another positive by having all these students that achieve high grades making it "harder for Universities to choose students" is that they start to look for other characteristics which are in many ways equally important. There is now a far greater focus on what you have done for the community, how you have planned for the future with work experience and the like, whether you were a hard working student and in general a nice person which to me is a good thing as these are important qualities.
This does create a very different university system I grant you. For example Stephen Fry: who was continually kicked out of or "asked to leave" various schools, spent a stint in prison and didn't even continue to 18; got into Cambridge University. (I am in no way critising Mr Fry I am one of his biggest fans and very much understand how he suffers). Nowadays this just wouldn't happen, it's no longer a question of super intelligence (not that they ever accept thickos) it's about who you are, and this is good.
To Summarise: You old people who have no idea, stop it. They are not easy, it is good to recognise high grades, and we work very hard.