Surely she will end up sitting 30 odd exams?

(61 Posts)
MoominmammasHandbag Fri 25-Jan-13 21:40:46

The other night we went to my DC3s GCSE choices evening. We discovered that, by the time she sits her exams, new government guidelines will dictate that she has to sit them all at the end of 2 years rather than spreading them out over that time.
Fair enough I thought, that's how mine were 30 odd years ago and fortunately DD is bright and capable of intensive studying. But when I counted things up I realised she will have 9 for triple science, 4 for history, 4 for Latin etc. She will be doing 11 GCSEs. How on earth will they fit in all the exams?

GinandJag Fri 25-Jan-13 21:54:12

What sums did you do to get to these figures?

MoominmammasHandbag Fri 25-Jan-13 22:01:48

Well every subject seems to be 3 or 4 and she's doing 11 subjects.

casma Fri 25-Jan-13 22:03:43

DD did her GCSEs last year and sat 25 exams in June (not including art) as her school didn't do module exams. It does mean that more than one exam a day is the norm, but it is doable - just very hard work!

MoominmammasHandbag Fri 25-Jan-13 22:08:58

My two older kids have done Music, RE, Maths and some English and Science modules a year or even two years early in the past. And other random bits I can't remember. i just think this lumping it all together at the end thing hasn't been thought through.

goinggetstough Fri 25-Jan-13 22:14:29

Do remember that these exams are not very long. I believe the GCSE science exams are 45 mins each.....
I expect the end result will be that DCs take less subjects. No university asks for 11, 12 or 13 GCSEs. So hopefully the numbers taken, will be more sensible.

littleducks Fri 25-Jan-13 22:14:53

I think thats how I did it, often two exams a day. Sometimes exams would 'clash' and we would have to go into seclusion for a break before sitting an exam that most people in the country had just sat.

It wasnt that big a deal

lubeybooby Fri 25-Jan-13 22:16:26

There are only 3 or 4 exams for subjects at the moment because they are broken down into modules

if it goes back to the old system like I did as a teen, it will just be one exam per subject.

NewFerry Fri 25-Jan-13 22:19:28

I agree. At A level, DS would have to learn and revise 12 separate text books, each with 1.5 hour exam, for his maths and further maths exams.

DS1 at uni, has module exams every 6 months.

Colleagues at work taking professional IT exams take them in modules

I am studying accountancy exams, again they are taken at the end of each module

I feel very sad for the new students (inc my dd) who will have to work under this new system

prettydaisies Fri 25-Jan-13 22:20:50

Mine do/ did them all at the end of Y11 because they don't do modules. The language ones are quite short and listening and speaking are very early. Mine only had 2 science exams per subject - so 6 altogether, 2 maths papers etc. they did have some clashes, but I don't think they ever had more than 2 in a day.

MoominmammasHandbag Fri 25-Jan-13 22:21:11

But years ago when we did our exams at the end of two years we did one exam for each subject. I did 8 O levels, I did 8 exams ( well maybe an extra spoken one for French).

prettydaisies Fri 25-Jan-13 22:23:27

Not all universities have 2 sets of exams per year. Where my DH works there is only one exam session in may/June ( and resits in the summer!).

MoominmammasHandbag Fri 25-Jan-13 22:24:13

Lubeybooby they seem to be doing modules but sitting them all at the end, so a half arsed mixture of the worst of two systems.

Kathy420 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:55:54

Go back to statistics class [40 years ago for you?] and you'll realise that you're not very accurate. You need to consider each individual GCSE course for the amount of exams. E.g. I had 3 maths exams but for RS I had one.

glaurung Sat 26-Jan-13 00:02:23

dd did 11 subjects last year, 3 had a single exam, 6 had 2 exams and only 2 had 3 exams, so that was just 21 exams. It could easily have been 20 if she'd done linear maths rather than modular which would have taken maths from 3 to 2.

She did some early, so only had 14 exams in the summer, but even if she'd done them all linearly it's nowhere near 30! Your dd's school has obviously chosen syllabuses that have more exams than necessary, but this usually means the exams are shorter, so can be timetabled back to back (so eg two history papers one after the other) and it effectively reduces the total number. I'm sure some of the science papers will be done back to back for example and it will all work out fine.

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 01:40:52

You may have only done one exam for each subject. I certainly did more when I took my O levels. Woodwork was 3 exams, as was Music. English Language was 4. I can't remember the rest of them.

As another poster has pointed out, many of the exams are quite short. In my case all 3 Music papers were on another afternoon and the 3 woodwork papers on another. I can't remember how the English Language papers were arranged for certain but I'm fairly sure 3 of those were in one afternoon.

sashh Sat 26-Jan-13 06:30:45

Back in the days of O Level exams were 2.5 hours, now they are much shorter.

Two 2.5 hour exams in one day wasn't unusual.

I did 11 subjects, one was drama which only had 1 written paper and a practical. One was art so no exam.

Every other subject had two exams each so that was 25 in total (double science is three subjects but two gcses.)

It was fine. Most exams were well spaced out even if on the same day. And the timetables are published in advance.

To be honest, two separate 1 hour exams is better than 1 two hour exam. Less daunting.

BlueyDragon Sat 26-Jan-13 06:47:16

When I did my GCSEs before the turn of the Millennium there were multiple exams per subject at the end of the two years, spread over an exam period of about 6 weeks including the half term break. Some exams were shorter than others and some were practicals for science and languages. I suspect that's what they'll go back to. The number of exams may well be quite high.

There's so little detail on this idea yet but what should happen is that the learning is broken up into modules but those modules build on each other so skills/facts learnt in one support the others. Then you get an examination of your overall knowledge of your subject at the end. But who knows? Whilst I think the cries of "How will they cope?" are misplaced - they will cope and be just fine - there is so much buggering around with children's education that it's not surprising standards are seen as slipping because no-one knows what on earth will happen next. It's experimenting with children's futures and I think it's sad.

There are still universities who examine almost wholly at the end. I did 8 3 hour exams in 9 days for my finals, a paper a day and one day off, and that's still the system now. Very stressful but survivable.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Sat 26-Jan-13 06:55:22

My oxford finals were 8 exams over 4 days to determine my whole degree! It certainly didn't suit the way my memory works. Most subject's exams were at least spread over a few weeks.

mumzy Sat 26-Jan-13 08:08:46

I remember at Olevels taken in June, it was one written exam per subject ( I did 9 Olevels) and one practical exam in French. They were taken over 2 weeks and we all survived, at 16 you do have a phenomen memory and stamina. We did mocks in rhe winter before with same regime to give us a practice run.

notcitrus Sat 26-Jan-13 08:44:44

I was the second year of GCSEs and yes we did have about 30 or more 'exams', but as orals and practicals were done early, and lots of them were only an hour or 90 min, you could have 3 in a day easily - and they were spread over about 6 weeks. Really not stressful compared to 2x3 hours per A-level, or Finals which was 21 hours in 3.5 consecutive days.

creamteas Sat 26-Jan-13 08:53:05

The problem at the minute is the sudden change. O levels, IGCSE etc are designed for linear assessment, GCSE designed around modular assessment. Both linear and modular assessment have advantages and disadvantages.

Gove's announcement did not allow time for the curriculum of GCSE to be redesigned, he just moved the exam timing.

So for the next few year, students will still be taking modular GCSE, but just sitting all the modules at the end. This is because he is too stupid to realise that the timing of the exams is not the same as curriculum design.

meditrina Sat 26-Jan-13 08:54:11

I did O levels, and it was really, really rare for one candidate to sit more than 8 or 9.

This is part of the reason why. And it raises a slight grin when I remember a commentator saying recently that getting 12-14 GCSEs showed how much cleverer and/or better taught the current generation was. I doubt that's an argument anyone will try to make again as an O level type exam system reasserts itself.

meditrina Sat 26-Jan-13 08:55:24

When I did O levels BTW, there were at least two papers per subject, plus leaks and practicals in some subjects.

meditrina Sat 26-Jan-13 08:55:58

"leaks" ?? - orals!

TheFallenMadonna Sat 26-Jan-13 09:03:02

Creamteas is right. Exams are still modular. It is only the timing that has changed. So yes, at the moment it looks like pupils will be taking the giving away of exams over a five week period. Not fewer longer exams over a shorter time. Rushed, ill thought out, standard for Gove.

BikeRunSki Sat 26-Jan-13 09:16:15

In the olden days of old fashioned "write it all down at the end of 2 years" O and A levels, they often did more than one paper at one sitting, or with only a half hour break or something. I once did 6 papers in a day and three the next day.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 26-Jan-13 09:28:37

And now we have exam sessions: am and pm. So you only do two exams in one session if you have a clash. And exam boards have a common timetable in order to try to prevent that for most combinations of subjects.

The point is, as creamteas said, there has been no attempt made to actually linearise the courses. They are modular, they are still modular. Next May and June, children will be taking modular exams. They will just be taking lots of them all in the same series.

The format of the exams, how they are timetabled in an exam series - not changing.

DontmindifIdo Sat 26-Jan-13 09:28:46

Well, I did GCSEs just as changes were coming in to make some modular but I didn't do any modular exams, they way they did it for maths was there were 2 exams, but in each exam paper there were 3 sections, I believe the year after me each section was an exam in it's own right. I think the theory is it will be more like the old system of 3 hour exam - but in that exam your DD will do what would have been 3x1 hour exams IYSWIM.

Yellowtip Sat 26-Jan-13 09:33:34

Six of my DC (and all their peers at school) have taken 11 or 12 GCSEs each as linear, so around 25 or so separate papers in June. It's quite a test of endurance, but perfectly do-able.

creamteas Sat 26-Jan-13 09:40:37

Of course the thing Mr Stupid Gove has not taken any account of is that marking criteria are very different now.

When I did O levels, teachers could teach around the subject more, because they knew that background knowledge could be recognised in the exam and given credit for when appropriate. Now marking criteria are pretty specific in many subjects so none of this will make a difference (and could stop you gaining marks).

It took a long time for my ASD DD to accept that she had to give 'wrong' answers to some science questions to get full marks at GCSE (and she is still extremely unhappy about it!)

TheFallenMadonna Sat 26-Jan-13 09:41:26

That's not the theory. The theory is that all the modules of the modular course will be taken in one exam series. But unless they change the current practice, and I hope they do, then each module will have its own session.

TeWiSavesTheDay Sat 26-Jan-13 09:43:11

This is exactly how I did my GCSEs (10 years ago) 30 odd exams spread over a few weeks.

I think it is less stressful tbh. And because all the topics are fresh in your mind I think the extension/further/whatever they call them papers are easier because it's easier to call on what you know about the whole subject.

creamteas Sat 26-Jan-13 09:47:42

Yellow it is only do-able for some children, not all. I have two DC with SEN. They cannot take two exams on one day, and would struggle with five exams in a week. My DD is under the modular system, her exams can be taken over two years and she will gain 10 GCSE (hopefully grin).

My DS is not that lucky, he is going to be doing linear, and will probably only be entered for 6 or 7. He will study the same number of subjects, but will probably not take exams, not because he is any less clever, but because he is not able to take that many papers in such a short space of time. His exam entries will decided by the timetable of the exam boards, not his ability which is, I think extremely unfair.

roisin Sat 26-Jan-13 10:02:45

Ds1 is in yr11 and is doing almost all exams at the end of yr11. (His school don't participate in this early entry, modular nonsense.)
English Lang 2x 1hr - in one sitting.
Physics - ditto (did 1hr last year)
Chem and Biology - as above.
English lit 2x 2hr
German 2x45 min - in one sitting
Maths - 2hr + 1.5hr
History - 2 x 1.45
IT - 1.5 hrs
Citizenship - 1hr

So in total (if you count 2 short exams in one sitting as one), 13 exams for 10 GCSEs.

They are spread over 2 weeks before half term, then two weeks after half term.

He's just done mock exams of almost all of the above I just 10 days and that was fine.

I did more than one paper at different sittings for all the O levels I took. This will surely be no different.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 26-Jan-13 10:14:39

So they do the modular nonsense for Science then roisin.

Yellowtip Sat 26-Jan-13 10:47:44

Obviously those with special needs have to be considered differently creamteas but OP's DD doesn't appear to be in that category. The 25 or so exams are staggered over a period from mid-May to the latter part of June, with half-term in the middle. The timetable is relatively spread out. It should be do-able for most I'd have thought, particularly if only 9 or 10 subjects are taken.

hardboiled Sat 26-Jan-13 12:02:28

Well my DS is about to start secondary and I think it will be a loss if instead of taking 12 GCSEs he takes 8, because it's a much narrower curriculum at an age in which the system should be forming rounded individuals and leaving options open. It will mean there will be very few things left to choose from once he takes the core subjects which are around 6 or 7 depending on the school, and of course the subjects to be left out will be the arts, music, drama, etc.

creamteas Sat 26-Jan-13 12:25:12

Yellow but that is the point, they can't be considered differently, especially if there is only 1 exam board per subject. The insistence on terminal exams for all, means that lots of children are effectively excluded.

littleducks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:34:02

But to be fair for some children dont fare well with coursework or modular exams, whichever system you choose it will suit some and cause others problems.

roisin Sat 26-Jan-13 13:13:45

Fallenmadonna: yes, they do the mod1 for science at the end of yr10; then mod2&3 at the end of yr11.

What I meant was some schools do mod1 end of yr9, then re-take to improve grade, then do mod2 in jan yr10, then re-take ... etc. so by the end of the course they may have taken 5 or 6 exams per subject, instead of 3.

creamteas Sat 26-Jan-13 13:38:12

little that might be true, but Gove is not ending modular assessment or coursework. He has just removed the right to sit the exams at different times. If we were moving to linear assessment, then I'm sure the assessment would (or at least should be) designed to allow children with SEN to participate. But, for the time being, this is not what is happening.

MoominmammasHandbag Sat 26-Jan-13 15:04:01

Well I have counted up and I reckon DD will have 29 exams for 11 GCSEs (one of which is Art). I still think that is quite excessive. As creamteas says, I don't think the changes have been thought through at all. I just hope they are sensible with the exam timetable and group tigether exams for the same subject.

roisin Sat 26-Jan-13 15:38:10

How do you get to 29?
Apart from Science, I don't know of any subject with more than two exams.
And many that have two, have two short exams that are run straight after each other.
(See my list above. ds1 - yr11 this year, all linear, 13 exam sittings for 10 GCSEs. 18 exams, if you count two 1hr exams run concurrently as two.)

MoominmammasHandbag Sat 26-Jan-13 15:59:36

She will have 3 for Maths, 4 for History, 4 for Latin, at least 2 for everything else. The school seems to prefer the modular approach to the linear. I have her options booklet right in front of me. But I hope, as you say, they will run the short exams concurrently.

babytrasher Sat 26-Jan-13 21:33:01

Creamteas I am an SEN Teacher, and have had many talks with parents, colleagues, other professionals etc about exactly this point.

My own conclusion is that the new system is an improvement because it will benefit the vast majority of students by providing a more level playing field; and because it will also benefit our type of student by revaluing context.

The current system has fixed targets but allows very flexible approaches to them, which renders context virtually meaningless. By fixing the approaches schools are allowed to take towards these fixed targets, all of a sudden context becomes a significant factor.

Come publication of the 2014 GCSE League Tables in Jan 2015, you will see no alteration in the head of the beast (the point scores of the best schools), but its tail will get a f*ck of a lot longer: all of a sudden, people will see that, given the context of their totally dysfunctional lives, a lot of our students have actually done a lot better than the local main-streamers! grin

GinandJag Sun 27-Jan-13 08:26:36

You have to remember that three of the science exams can be taken at the end of Year 10.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 27-Jan-13 09:58:33

I don't get the problem. We always had about 25/30 exams for 10 GCSEs in 'my' day - taken over about 3-4 weeks. Same for A levels - 3 x 3 hour exams per subject (and some students had 3 in one day - 9 hours of exams!!).

Why does it mean they have to go down to 8 subjects?

Loshad Sun 27-Jan-13 10:20:55

GinandJag, only if you are going down the core, additional and further additional route. We are staying with triple.

NewFerry Sun 27-Jan-13 10:36:59

At DCs school, the current year 11s are taking 9 science exams in the summer.

creamteas Sun 27-Jan-13 12:01:04

Books Not all DC will need to drop subjects. But when terminal exams were standard for all, many DC with SEN did not take exams, and this move will prevent them doing so again. Not because of their intellectual ability, because their disability.

In the case of my own DS, he is very unlikely to be able to manage this many exams in such a short space of time. If he is entered for all the subjects he is studying for it carries a high risk that he would not complete them leading to failed marks. Consequently, he will probably be entered for selected subjects, so he can pace himself. IMO that is not just a problem, it is grossly unfair and has potential consequence for his future life.

Happymum22 Sun 27-Jan-13 12:06:53

At DCs very academic schools they advised most to take 9 GCSEs, 10 if you really wanted to but definately no more.
They stressed the work for the extra subject and then revision time of a whole extra subject was better spent relaxing or doing sport/music/whatever else.
DS did 9 and is at London medical school, DDs did 9 too and are at Bristol and Durham.
Many of their peers are at Oxbridge and did 9.

Also, yes DC had around 25 exams each in the summer as the school did not do modules. It was fine, by the time exams come they want to get them done and most are only 45 mins- 1.5 hrs so its not like they are in exams solidly all day.
I hope they do change it to one or two exams per subject as it seems excessive but who knows.

lljkk Sun 27-Jan-13 12:31:35

It's quite a test of endurance

and that's what education should be about, I guess?

Stupid system.

AwkwardPenguin Sun 27-Jan-13 13:53:07

My dd is sitting igcses which have no modules/coursework. She is doing 12 and this will add up to roughly 30 exams too. Not too abnormal I don't think

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 14:41:01

lljkk exams are always a test of endurance, amongst other things.

I'd be fine with my DC doing nine or ten Happymum though that would narrow their options at a very young age (especially at our school, which starts the GCSE courses in Y9). The sport/ music/ bumming about argument is fine, with the caveat that all the students at the DC school seem to manage sport/ music/ bumming about on top of eleven or twelve linear GCSEs.

MoominmammasHandbag Sun 27-Jan-13 17:34:15

DDs school is not massively academic but 11 GCSEs is the standard number they take. She has actually been put under loads of pressure to do music as an extra GCSE with a luchtime and twilight session. The school were most put out when I said "no". Who needs 12 GCSEs for goodness sake?

gillviola Sun 27-Jan-13 17:35:24

GCSE English Lang is currently 2 hours 15mins - not what you would call a short exam.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 18:33:33

English is the exception though really.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 18:37:09

It's not a question of 'needing' them though Moomin so much as giving a broadly based education prior to sixth form. That makes sense to me. I really don't see the issue as being how few subjects can one get away with to get to a decent uni or job. That said, ten would probably still do, or eight but with a much broader syllabus.

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