Exam Issues – A Never Ending Tale

For the past 20 or so years politicians, journalists and the general public have been saying “exams are too easy”, complaining because the GCSE and A-level results have continuously improved. Now everyone’s worried because they didn’t improve – hypocrites! Maybe the exams have been made harder?

My brother was in year 10 (age 15, first year of the GCSE course) and he pointed out his science course was the first year it was taught, making him and his fellow classmates guinea pigs. This ultimately means they are at a disadvantage since teachers need time to build up course-specific resources, learn what the examiners want from students and thus refine their lesson plans. Hence, next years students will probably do better in this particular test.

This always makes me laugh 🙂

The complaints about exams getting easier has always peeved me – why can’t people be happy for the country’s’ youth? If results improve it’s obviously nothing to do with hard work but the exams are too easy (note the sarcasm) and when results don’t improve politicians jump down the throats of teachers and students, yakking on at them for not trying hard enough or failing to be prepared.

Maybe they should take the exams themselves? If they really looked they’d see that not only do they have little relevance to the real world but it’s more about how you answer a question, not the quality or quantity of actual knowledge. You could know everything under the sun about World War 2 but unless you can write an essay in the correct manner you’re stuffed.

Just looking at this picture gives me the creeps *shudders*

If I’m honest, I used this system to my advantage. Writing essays is (almost) natural for me and over the years I learnt how to play the system. Picking information to memorize and which to not bother with. For instance, English A-level requires studying certain books, and the trick is to learn parts of the book which can be applied to basically every possible question. Also, as long as you babble on about each point for long enough you don’t have to include so many little points. Does this make sense? Probably not but fellow students might know what I mean when I say most essays you write (whether for coursework or exams) are a lot of pointless typing when you don’t have any idea what you’re chatting on about.

It’s quite sad how the exam/school system works but as it’s considered the best option out a bad list I guess we’re stuck with it until some genius creates a magical, fair and equal system.

Whatever is happening with the exams universities obviously don’t trust their results, many have admitted to preferring the using the results gained from their own entrance exams over A-levels. This shouldn’t really be necessary, they could be used to choose from students who all have very similar grades but they certainly shouldn’t make A-levels practically redundant. This system adds unnecessary stress onto students who are already under so much pressure due to a lack of options post A-level – it’s more or less either uni or step back to age 16 and attend college, take up an apprenticeship or start job searching in a country where the economy means jobs are scarce.

I can’t think of a system which would reduce criticisms right now but perhaps eventually I will and I can make my fortune? Any body have any suggestions on where to start? Or perhaps you have your own pet peeves on the education system (English or otherwise)?

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11 thoughts on “Exam Issues – A Never Ending Tale

  1. My opinion is that the education system is messed up in many ways. Most teachers and professors are overworked and underpaid, many do not even have health benefits. Instead of making tests more difficult, why not invest in our educators so that they have more job satisfaction, better materials and facilities, and therefore are less stressed and stretched in too many directions.

  2. My science teacher says that most people got a grade lower than they would’ve got last year. And seeing how i was 2 marks of an A! I’m a little peeved.

  3. My biggest pet peeve in college was when the prof would give out an essay assignment and then say, “The essay needs to be ___ pages long.” Then I would do the research and literally had to stretch out the essay with a bunch of “fluff” writing because the topic really wasn’t controversial or interesting. It would stress me out so much, that I would stay up all night just trying to stretch out the essay to meet the length requirement.
    To set length requirements on reports or essays seems ludicrous to me, given that some topics do not need much length to give the information, but other topics require twice the length to give the important points and to emphasize the thesis or opposing arguments.
    The prof’s never seemed to get the length requirement right. A person would think this would be an easy thing to assign, based on the topic. Right?

    • For some of our English essays we had to write four A4 pages at least. Out of about eight essays my longest was seven and one I struggled to make long enough. My best friend however wrote loads for each, her shortest was eight or ten pages and her longest was twenty-ish. We got the same marks roughly so you definitely have a point but it depends on the person. Maybe we’re just concise? Quality over quantity. 🙂

      • I know exactly what you mean. I was always very good at getting my point across in essays efficiently, but – rules being rules – I had to waste time thinking up a lot of waffle to make up the required length. Some of my colleagues, in contrast, were having to cut out paragraph after paragraph! I never understood it.

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