Way back when I was at school, I remember choosing my subjects for O Levels and starting my studies. At the end of the first year we took our mock exams, and I failed spectacularly. Exams and me just didn’t get on, at all.
I have to say at this point, I was at Grammar School, I’d passed my 11+ and I was getting decent enough grades, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know the work, I just blanked out at exams.
This was back in 1985, and by the time my actual exams came around I’d been switched to a new system the 16+ – one which based your overall score on around 75% of coursework and 25% of exam – which suited me much better than O Levels. The added bonus of the 16+ was getting a certificate for a GCE (General Certificate of Education) and a CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) for the same exam. I have lots of pieces of paper.
(It’s also worth pointing out that I did badly the first time around with this switch, so retook for a year at Sixth Form College where I took five 16+ exams and passed four)
Eventually the 16+ exam became what is known these days as the GCSE, by then I’d left school so I know very little about how different it is, if indeed it is.
So today on the news they’re saying they want to abolish GCSEs, and bring back O Level style exams as the current system is letting kids down. This scares me. This is our future? What if H gets to the point where she’s sitting exams and like me she panics and forgets everything? (I even tried hypnotherapy when it was exam time) What is wrong with the current system? I don’t know enough about it to know why it needs to be changed. I don’t know families with kids taking them right now. Is it really that broken?
I’d say as someone who made the change, it worked for me. I never did do A Levels, which is probably a blessing in disguise given my track history with exams, yet to be in a system which would encourage the higher kind of exam, I’d be destined to fail, which to me is wrong; I do appreciate I’m lucky I had the option to change though.