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To think a 3hr exam at the end of year 11 is unfair on many students

(389 Posts)
kim147 Mon 17-Sep-12 20:17:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GoldShip Mon 17-Sep-12 20:19:53

I don't think it's unfair personally.

Myliferocks Mon 17-Sep-12 20:23:06

I think it very much depends on the child.
DC1, 3 & 5 would cope with one exam at the end of yr11 just fine. My DC2 & 4 would be a quivering mess of stress and anxiety.

RuleBritannia Mon 17-Sep-12 20:23:31

There was nothing wrong with 3-hour O-level exams. There was a time when everyone took them and we were not given grades. We were either passed or failed but we were given our percentage marks! The pass or fail level was moved but at least we knew how good or bad we were having the marks.

There is plenty of time to revise and do homework and read for themselves during the 2 years before the exams. They also have mocks in January well I did. If pupils don't like taking exams, they should look for a less academic route to a job.

SirGOLDBoobs Mon 17-Sep-12 20:23:44

I stress hugely about exams... And actually think I would have stressed more during my GCSEs (five years ago now) if I had had more exams with shorter time lengths, IE trying to cram more in, and watching the clock more than writing to my full potential.

Exams are tough on everyone.

I think its more of a shame that they don't do coursework any more. I was so relieved that we had it.

SammyTheSwedishSquirrel Mon 17-Sep-12 20:24:19

I think it's very unfair. I say that as an exam genius. I have phenomenal recall and can blag my way through any exam. I got As in nearly all my o-levels despite doing bugger all work all year. Kids who worked much harder and consistently than me didn't do nearly so well. I can honestly say that I didn't earn my grades and I certainly wouldn't have got them if I'd had to rolling assessment type qualifications.

vj32 Mon 17-Sep-12 20:25:06

I think a single exam board for each subject is a good thing. Some exam papers for the same subject are significantly easier than others. I think modules and proper controlled assessment (ie not teacher or parent writing work for the student) is a good thing.

But mostly I just think the fundamentals of the exam system should stay the same. Employers are confused because they cannot compare results from different times. I was in the last year that didn't take AS levels, and they were 'testing' modules in some A Levels, before you could get an A*. People who do not have a good understanding of how the rules have change over time have no idea if they are comparing like with like.

kim147 Mon 17-Sep-12 20:25:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

vj32 Mon 17-Sep-12 20:26:26

Exams would also suit me better, I didn't have the patience for coursework. But for many many people they don't suit. A combination as it is at the moment seems fair.

GoldShip Mon 17-Sep-12 20:26:38

Year elevens aren't as fragile as people might make out. I was in yr 11 three years ago and you really shouldn't worry.

They'll adapt. It's good practice for future too, college etc.

ReindeersGoldenBollocks Mon 17-Sep-12 20:26:51

But surely students who go onto academia at University will be sitting lengthy exams anyway? I think it's good practice for students who are capable, however it leaves a lot to be desired for students who don't do well in exams.

It seems quite an antiquated system, with no real thought behind it for getting every student to a decent national level. Which should be a core principle, given the number of young people out of work.

FrustratedSycamorePants Mon 17-Sep-12 20:28:12

3hrs Pah, the art exam is 2 days.

kim147 Mon 17-Sep-12 20:29:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BoneyBackJefferson Mon 17-Sep-12 20:29:26


"There was nothing wrong with 3-hour O-level exams. There was a time when everyone took them and we were not given grades."

The point is that not everybody took them.

TheSkiingGardener Mon 17-Sep-12 20:29:27

Coursework is way too open to abuse. And when you are employed you can't just say "Well I knew that 6 months ago, but I've forgotten it now" about things you're meant to be competent in.

The design of a 3 hour exam should test subject knowledge and how well you can apply it. Just being able to regurgitate facts shouldn't be enough.

Bunbaker Mon 17-Sep-12 20:30:42

I think it depends how old you are. I took my O levels in 1975 and A levels in 1977. There was no such thing as coursework and we knew very well that passing the exams was what you did at the end of the 5th/upper 6th years (as they were called then)

We were given practice papers and timed questions as we got nearer the exams so it wasn't as if it was anything unexpected.

If today's children are taught the correct techniques to pass the exams then they will be fine. My worry is that DD will be in year 11 in three years time and I hope the curriculum will be geared up to the new system.

whathasthecatdonenow Mon 17-Sep-12 20:31:12

The interesting thing is that because teaching is meant to be pacy, with lots of different activities rarely lasting more than a few minutes, students aren't given the opportunity to develop the concentration skills they will require for a three hour exam.

With so much stimulation these days (consoles, phones etc) concentration skills are not that good. Behaviour in the exam rooms will become more difficult, especially as exams are not invigilated by teachers.

I did 3 hour exams for A Level and was fine, but I spent my school years listening to the teacher for 5 minutes, quick Q & A, then 50 minutes spent concentrating on my work. That sort of lesson would get you an inadequate grading from OFSTED now.

Currently our kids have three 1 hour 15 minute exams, plus a 2.5 hour controlled assessment. One 3 hour exam will be less for them, but my bottom set boys won't cope. There will be an increase in disqualifications.

Mumsyblouse Mon 17-Sep-12 20:31:42

I would like a lesser proportion assessment, with most on the exam, or a couple of exams (say 1/3 to 2/3rds). I work in the university sector, and the biggest reason to return to exams is plagarism and everyone copying internet resources. Some students don't even seem to disguise it, one has different font types from different websites!

I don't think assessment is terribly fair unless done in exam type conditions in class anyway. I think the days of taking home work and putting together portfolios (which favours those with quiet, nice homes with parents who prioritise this stuff or worse 'help' or use the internet) are over.

As for one exam, I think there's something to be said for pulling together all your knowledge over two years so that it intersects and works as a whole. If you are testing someone before they have developed (AS level), then it is inevitable they either won't get as good grades as given another year to develop their learning skills, or the grades are artificially lowered so as not to highlight the unfairness.

Leena49 Mon 17-Sep-12 20:32:38

One one hand I feel that it will create a two tier education system. On the other it may actually make some kids realise that although they cannot answer basic Maths questions or write a complete sentence it doesn't really matter and that they will go to university anyway. There has to be other alternatives for them though.

titchy Mon 17-Sep-12 20:32:54

I thought the current year 10s were going to be assessed at the end of year 11 with no modules any more so not sure why the need for yet another exam restructure.

Ridiculous amount of change in a very short time - current yr 11, modular GCSEs; current year 9, linear GCSEs; current year 7, Gove levels confused Madness IMO.

RuleBritannia Mon 17-Sep-12 20:33:03


Sorry, I forgot. It depended on what sort of school one attended, didn't it?

Raspberryandorangesorbet Mon 17-Sep-12 20:33:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GalaxyDefender Mon 17-Sep-12 20:33:34

I think it's horrendous, personally. I remember doing my GCSEs and much preferred coursework to exams. A lot of children do not cope well under such pressure, and as these results can affect your entry to college, that's a major handicap.
And it IS unfair. I still remember how angry I was that having to do a stupid exam meant I got a B in a subject where all my coursework was A* angry

Not sure what can be done about it though. A lot of people seem to think coursework-led or modular subjects are "easy" or somehow weaker than exam-based ones. Unless that changes, we're stuck with this unfairness.

FrankWippery Mon 17-Sep-12 20:34:12


LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 17-Sep-12 20:35:43

Yes, it's unfair and monumentally stupid.

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