GCSEs: The experience with the new system from an average(ish) teen


Edit: So I’ve been trying to post this and edit this for AGES, and it’s now the 20th of October and I’m just coming to post this (hopefully). And this is due to wordpress being horrifically slow on my laptop. So I’ve edited some of this just now. Anyway, please try to enjoy my rant about GCSEs.

Well it is that time of year again; September. Back to school, work, collage, or even university.

And it is also that time of year where some of us will have had those exam results back rather recently. You would have dealt with the dielemna of whether you have done “well enough” to move forward to where you want to go next with life, foreshadowing the actual opening of the envelope.

So ok; by now we all know. We are either very pleased that our results have enabled us to take the next step forward towards our dream career, or that we would be in the middle of finding a path around it. A plan B or a different road towards plan A. Honestly when there’s a will there’s a way. Theres no reason to stress. Rant over with!

Anyway this isn’t the point. My point is that, at least within my school environment, there are so many people who are no longer satisified with sufficient grades. Instead we are becoming increasingly obsessed with being the best. Having a set of numbers which are as high as possible. They look pretty on the page, define how good you are, and supposing they show how good you will be at a subject in a few years time. As if the stress of A levels and the outcome of them, as well as anything extra curricular doesn’t show enough. Hence the 9. The new A**. Supposingly they enable the “strongest candidates” to stand out more to the top universities. However are they really necessary?

Firstly I strongly feel that what is more important is what you are like as a person and how driven you are. So I understand that grades do show this up to an extent. Very high grades indicate the person has put in a lot of time and effort into their studies. And also hopefully an exceptionally high grade in a particular subject would imply that this person may have a strong passion for it. But is a 9 really necessary? It has become known to me that often people who achieve the top grades at GCSE level don’t necessarily do as well at A level stage, whereas those who don’t get such impressive grades at GCSE go on to do exceptionally well at A level. Thinking about that this way, leaves me unable to see any logical reason why the GCSE grading system needed tto be amended.

Furthermore people panick in exams. We mess up and make mistakes which we wouldn’t make under less stress and more time. And some people panick more than others.

So fair enough. If you went to a decent school i’m sure you’ve seen the specification for each individual question enough times. Therefore I imagaine that there would be people who could glance at that then majestically know exactly what to write. In any subject, not just English. Meanwhile other people would take one look, and probably be more confuzzled than before. As for some of us, its not exactly clear what the examiner wants, regardless of how many times we have seen the specification. So theres a skill, not directly related to any subject. Spotting exactly what an examiner wants. UGH! So usually anyone who is good at a subject is likely to get a higher mark. Nevertheless those people who are somehow able to organise themselves in a way that they can write the exact words the examiner wants to read, and happen to be good at that subject will stand a much higher chance of achieving that top 9 than somebody who is good at the subject but doesn’t have that strange skill. In addition, it is unfair to somebody who hasn’t seen this specification. They may not know it is accessible. They may not care that much. But they are still at a disadvantage. And I think that the more grades that are available, thee more important it is to know what the examiner wants if you want to achieve that top, in my opinion unnecessary, grade. So that advantage of being shown this specification, as well as having the ability to see through it and write to the examiners preference ((which may vary in any case) puts certain people at a great advantage. And the ability to do this, is not the same as having a great ability in a certain subject. UGHH!

Furthermore higher grades available leads to: higher stress, higher expectations and lower self esteem.. Now I went to a school where i knew a lot of people who were expecting 9s. Lots of bloody 9s. If they got an 8 instead,, they would feel awful about it and themselves. Now i think they worked extremely hard to achieve these top marks but i know for a fact there were people who accomplished that. Unfortunately some people are perfectionists, so anything that’s not top isn’t good enough. Nonetheless I asked someone in this boat, and they agreed that having these top grades available was actually unnecessary. Even though they achieved top grades themselves. Therefore I think that really, the availability of 8s and 9s doesn’t put these types of people at much of an advantage. Instead it means they are under more pressure and more stress, which could potentially put their mental health at risk. And I have seen this myself…

I personally reckon part of this is to make certain schools stand out against the so called “mainstream” ones. Enabling private schools to boast about their grades, so they stand out. Now that isn’t putting their pupils under any advantages, its putting them at considerable stress in my opinion. Giving them ridiculous expectations to live up to. Whilst it potentially puts the rest of us at another disadvantage. In fact I stumbled across an article which implied some private school was thinking they should introduce a “10” as so many students of theirs were getting 9s. All I can say is WTF!

Now what about the rest of us? People who don’t get 9s and who don’t really want them? If this system only effects such a small number of people in reality, then why is it such a bad thing. Surly everyone else is just under the same level of stress as previously, whilst the “most able” students can reach out for those top grades. A complete dream for most of us. Well from my experience this is not the case. At this point in time, I would happily stand on the top of a building and shout “I DIDN’T GET ANY 9s” because well, I didn’t. And it no longer matters to me. But there were times when I felt terrible, absolutely useless. Whilst the teachers would be teaching the “brightest kids” the grade 9 standard stuff, I would still be at there, looking completely dazed at something more my sort of level, afraid to ask the teacher for help at times as I thought it was assumed by everyone that I would have understood the more “basic” stuff already. And its true, loads of people would be aiming for this highest standard, getting the highest grades. And I mean good for them. Meanwhile I would say complete rubbish about my self such as “I’m going to fail everything”. Or “I’m rubbish at this subject, I’m rubbish at everything. Why am I even trying” Or just calling myself a “shit show”. Complete nonsense. But I’m sure there’s many other hardworking teenagers out there, eager to pass. Or get a high pass or whatever. But feeling they’re just not good enough. Since when was a 5, a high c/low B perceived as a “rubbish grade”. When it is a strong pass. Meanwhile it seemed like everyday I would hear people moaning they “only” got a 6. A B. Or even dissing themselves for getting 7s. Once upon a time a 7 was an A (well it still is lol). But now there’s two grades above it? GCSE exam questions are undoubtedly becoming harder and harder, hence why I literally couldn’t cope with nearly half of my maths paper, but I got a grade that I am pleased with. And don’t even get me started on science! grrrrr

So, my rant on education is over with. Until next time haha! The point is the new GCSE system is too much stress for everybody, is now apparently making marking more inaccurate hence why so many people have had their papers remarked, and also it doesn’t really mean anything.

Published by victoriarose002

Hiya, I am an 18 year old blogger from the UK. I generally post about topics surrounding social, cultural and political commentary although I also aim to write some personal posts too... I am currently studying A levels, and as well as writing I like music, complaining and going to cool places. I encourage any comments, constructive criticism or any blog post suggestions. While don't hesitate to contact me at vickyyrose.02@gmail.com for anything blog related :)

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