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Basic skills in decline


Schools minister David Miliband congratulated pupils today for a near 100% A-Level pass mark but says SHL; verbal and numerical reasoning skills are in decline.

The experts in objective assessment show that in tests designed to assess the ability of candidates to deal with verbal and numerical information, graduate job seekers are scoring less well than their colleagues did in 1996.

The multiple-choice tests require a verbal reasoning level equivalent to ‘sixth-form’, whilst the numerical reasoning requires a standard of mathematical knowledge roughly equivalent to GCSE.

The tests remain constant in standard allowing employers to compare results from previous years says the organisation.

John Bateson, chief executive officer at SHL Group, commented: "Whatever your views on the comparative difficulty of A-Levels, our research shows that among those applying for typical graduate jobs the standard of numerical and verbal reasoning is declining.

"With more and more job applicants having virtually identical academic records, including high-grade A-levels and 2.1 degree passes' employers are finding it very difficult to spot the real high achievers who will add value to their organisations."

The findings sit alongside a call from the Institute of Directors to reform the A-Level standards.

James Walsh, policy adviser at the IoD said: “Employers and universities are finding it increasingly difficult to select the very best candidates from A-level students. With an ever-growing number of 'A' grade passes being awarded the brightest students are not shining through.”
The IoD suggest that standards are raised, making it harder for pupils to obtain an ‘A’ grade while placing more value on those who reach a ‘B’ or ‘C’.

Ninety-six per cent of pupils who entered the A-Level exam this year passed.


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