We’ve finally found some time to take a look at VCAA’s 2019 NHT exams. They’re generally bad in the predictable ways, and they include some specific and seemingly now standard weirdness that we’ll try to address soon in a more systematic manner. WitCHwise, we were tempted by a number of questions, but we’ve decided to keep it to two or three.

Our first NHT WitCH is from the final question on Exam 2 (CAS) of Mathematical Methods:

As usual, the NHT “Report” indicates nothing of how students went, and little of what was expected. In regard to part f, the Report writes,

**p(x) = q(x) = x, p'(x) = q'(x) = 1, k = 1/e**

For part g, all that the Report provides is the answer, *k = 1*.

The VCAA also provides sample Mathematica solutions to schools trialling Methods CBE. For the questions above, these solutions are as follows:

Make of it what you will.

Putting the thumb on the scales perhaps? It has been discussed here at length, Mathematica gives students an (unfair) advantage, but when model “solutions” like this make it just a bit too obvious that VCAA is going out of their way to inflate the CBE grades to confirm their own hypotheses (I’d really like to perform a 1 tail test with H0: Mathematica does not lead to better understanding except that VCAA exams are not suitable for such a test…) then is there really any point?

Pass the vodka, again.

So part (f) is worth 2 marks.

And by VCAA’s own instructions, “In questions worth more than 1 mark, appropriate working must be shown”.

But by VCAA’s own advice, consistently given in Examiners Reports, calculator syntax is not considered appropriate working.

Except that from the above VCAA solution, calculator syntax apparently

isconsidered appropriate working.So where does this leave teachers? And students using Mathematica and submitting their Specialist Maths exams on paper? Is calculator syntax sanctioned but only in Maths Methods? Or only in CBE exams? As far as I know, the NHT exams are not CBE exams …?

Another fine example of VCAA’s inconsistency and failure to provide clarity. Let’s just bring in Mathematica but don’t worry about the many issues it raises. Let’s just screw teachers and students over.

Will there be NHT examinations in 2020?

Good question.

I raised this very question a few weeks ago (https://mathematicalcrap.com/2020/03/19/getting-schooled-by-the-coronavirus/) as part of a general rant on the (unsurprising) total lack of leadership shown by VCAA during the pandemic.

(Merlino must have seen it because he recently announced the GAT would be pushed back to “a date [yet to be confirmed] in Term 4, 2020”).

Thanks, JF. i plan to post about SACs soon …