For many of us GCSE and A Level examinations are a stressful time. There seems to be an expectation that when you turn fourteen you should spend the next four to five years of your life focused on exams and academic achievement. This expectation begins much earlier, even with the recently abolished transfer test which was quickly replaced with much harder entry examinations that children take at aged 10 or 11.
And yet a recent report from the National Union of Teachers has revealed that many students are suffering from undue stress, as a direct result of this examination culture in the UK. The report says that focusing too much on exams over a four year period is affecting young people’s psychical and mental health. www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-33380155
But what do you think? How young is too young for this type of stress, and what causes you to stress out the most when it comes to GCSEs and A Levels?
Here are some of our ideas to get you thinking about Exam Revision and You !
let us know what you think and leave your comments below.
#1: Restricted Learning
A survey of over 8000 teachers in England said that they think the focus on GCSE and A Level syllabus is restricting what pupils are learning during the last few crucial years at school. But what should we be learning? Should schools be making more effort to teach outside of core subjects and help student prepare for university or life after school? Or do you think taking time away form your main subjects would be wasting time that could be spent helping you pass your exams? Maybe there is a balance that needs to be struck between core subjects and other learning.
#2: All or Nothing Pressure
Although the structure of GCSEs have changed somewhat to allow for modular testing. A Levels and many GCSEs still have an all or nothing testing procedure. Is this type of structure creating unnecessary stress on students? Is it unfair that being sick on the day of an exam or having jitters could greatly affect your potential to achieve? Or do you think that it modular testing is a less genuine assessment of true skill and aptitude? Perhaps these types of changes could lead to some students achieving better grades just because they have a better or more lenient teacher.
#3: A Knock to Confidence
In many schools, and indeed many families, we are rewarded with validation when we achieve good grades. And by proxy, when we don’t get a ‘good’ mark or fail to meet the academic expectations of others often we can feel like we’ve let a whole lot of people down. Studies show that this type of reinforcement can be very damaging to young people’s self-esteem and goes far beyond our self-confidence. Have you ever felt upset or worried over your marks? Do you think that its right for young people to feel this way?
#4: Competing For the Top Spots
Many schools have enforced a tradition of ‘prize giving’ to publicly award students who come out on top in certain subjects or years. On top of this we are told that GCSE results might effect whether we are let back into school, and A Level results are based on a competitive system for limited spots at universities. Is this a healthy mentality for young people to have? Do you feel that you are having to compete against your peers for your right to education, or do you think this helps prepare young people for the world of work? Have you ever experienced what happens if you don’t reach your goals, or have you had to go through clearing to get into university?
#5: Is There More to Life?
Have you ever heard the expression ‘there’s more to life?’ – it doesn’t mean that exams aren’t important, but are they given too much importance for young people today? Are young people still getting to experience the rest of their lives when they are at school, or do you feel that there’s just no room for anything else? Some people might not even want to pursue a life of academic study, but are we ever told about other life paths? Do you feel that exams take up most of your life? If there was something else what would you be doing, what’s more important?
Food for thought and discussion would you say?