Sigh, Sixth form and school. The subject that anyone who would have been due to take A levels or GCSEs this summer would want to back away from. However this is pretty hard to avoid as exams have been cancelled for the second time in a row, just a couple of weeks after they were given the go ahead, and once again we are having to resort to online learning… Which I hope you realise that circumstances can make this hard for a large number of people, therefore surely cancelling exams is the only option which makes sense…
Advantages of cancelling exams
So a few days before Boris vaguely implied that exams wouldn’t be going ahead, I noticed a petition to cancel exams circulating around my social media. This is understandable due to the extent to which home learning has been a huge disruption, therefore having to do exams as normal would cause huge and unnecessary amounts of stress… Furthermore this is going to affect people’s mental health, and in some cases badly. Especially considering the influence covid has already had.
But I’m, aware there will be some people who may still dismiss this argument, arguing instead that the only reason why we want exams cancelled is because we cannot be bothered to do them. Nevertheless as an A level student, I can say for a fact that none of us are lazy! However there will be people at home who have the burden of additional responsibilities, who may be facing difficult/toxic family situations or maybe just have shit WiFi. But this still can make all the difference. Meaning that some students wouldn’t be able to perform as well in exams as they would have done without the disruptions, therefore it is probably best to leave it to the teacher’s discretion.
Disadvantages of Cancelling exams
So we would hope that teachers would have a rough idea on the student’s capacities, however it is impossible that a teacher is always going to predict students correctly. And especially concerning A levels, the difference between one grade can be really important! Yet it has been proven that on average those from BAME groups and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds are most likely to have their grades under-predicted, due to internal bias, therefore they are most likely to do better in exams in comparison.
Furthermore often making sense of exam technique can be just as much of, if not more of a task than actually learning and understanding the content. Although some people tend to grasp it faster than others. Therefore people who would usually improve in the last few months leading up to exam season, are likely to feel let down. Not to mention that many people who will revise for the real exam are less likely to revise for mocks, especially if these were taken back in year 12 or 10!
So Should Exams Be cancelled?
There is obviously no “perfect” solution to what is happening, and I know that there will be students who will lose out regardless of what happens. Although I would say the best option would be to cancel exams, just to take off some of the stress and so there are fewer people who receive really inaccurate grades, due to not being in school. But if you are a worrried student reading this, itt is important to realise that all of this is beyond your control, and to not beat yourself up if you do get lower grades than what you were hoping for. Also if you feel it would be best to do something like retaking a year, then there shouldn’t be any shame in doing so.
Finally I think this has highlighted some of the issues with the education system in “normal circumstances”. Because surely grades given based on what happened in the first year of the course, shouldn’t determine what university anyone should go to.