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to think that preventing a student from resitting an A-Level could ruin their future

(19 Posts)
ItIllBehovesGove Fri 09-Nov-12 18:41:19

I've heard on the BBC news that it is being proposed that resitting an A-Level could be banned. I think this is absurd. Some students feel very nervous when they sit an exam or they can't manage their time effectively enough to finish their last question. They only learn through experience that what their studying style is. They are still so young when they sit the exams and to condemn their futures at such an age is a terrible notion.

If I had concerns about my child taking exams where there was only one chance, I would find the money to pay for them to sit past papers over and over again, until I was confident that they would do well as they could possibly do.

I can't help feeling that this will add further stress to students in an already competive environment and is storing a generation of bitter, 'could have had a chance if only I'd been given the opportunity' feeling. Who wants that?

What about mature students who realise that they have mispent their youth and want to improve their opportunities in life by retaking their A-Levels, years, perhaps decades down the line?

Lastly, some of those who retake exams can remember those facts better than those who just sit the exam once; isn't long term knowledge more important than a 'flash' testing of it for a few hours?

Raise the standards of marking by all means, far fewer students should be achieving A grades but don't ruin futures completely.

kim147 Fri 09-Nov-12 18:45:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ImperialBlether Fri 09-Nov-12 18:49:08

If I had concerns about my child taking exams where there was only one chance, I would find the money to pay for them to sit past papers over and over again, until I was confident that they would do well as they could possibly do.

But wouldn't you do that anyway?

What about mature students who realise that they have mispent their youth and want to improve their opportunities in life by retaking their A-Levels, years, perhaps decades down the line?

It won't affect mature students in that way. It's to stop A level students taking the same exam four times (twice in AS year and twice in A2 year) until they get the marks they want.

Lastly, some of those who retake exams can remember those facts better than those who just sit the exam once; isn't long term knowledge more important than a 'flash' testing of it for a few hours?

An exam has always involved that sort of test. If a student works better without exams, they need to choose courses with a high percentage of coursework.

Did you do A levels, OP? I took them years ago and the ones they are proposing now are identical to those.

cumfy Fri 09-Nov-12 18:54:04

It's the same for everyone though.

Level playing field.

PrideOfChanur Fri 09-Nov-12 18:59:40

"If I had concerns about my child taking exams where there was only one chance, I would find the money to pay for them to sit past papers over and over again, until I was confident that they would do well as they could possibly do. 2

This is partly the point of changing though - looking at the best grade a student can get by repeatedly resitting the exam does not give anyone looking at those results the same info as the results of a "one-take" exam. iItdepends what you want to test for,and of course there are jobs out there where you can try until you succeed - there are also jobs which ask for accurate recall of facts under pressure.

With regard to this "Some students feel very nervous when they sit an exam or they can't manage their time effectively enough to finish their last question. They only learn through experience that what their studying style is."
I did A levels in the 70's - we had spent our entire school career gradually being taught how to manage our time ,and how to choose which questions to focus on if we didn't think we could manage them all.Certainly by A level,students should know how to do this and what their studying style is! By year 7 or 8,no but A Levels? They need to know this stuff before they move on!

schoolgovernor Fri 09-Nov-12 19:07:27

I agree with Pride. I took my A Levels in the mid 70's and re-takes were almost unheard of.
I think there's too much hand-wringing about the poor little mites to be honest. Life is stressful and competitive, so they might as well get prepared.

onetiredmummy Fri 09-Nov-12 19:15:23

I can see your point Gove but how old are A level students generally, 17 or 18? They should be able to manage their time efficiently by that age (if you have 3 essay type questions its not too hard to allocate say 45 mins each for them). All students are nervous except the cocky ones & they are not that young, they should be able to cope with nerves. They have spent the past year sitting GCSE's & mocks.

I think you are babying them, they are adults & if they are sitting A levels its possible they will do a degree. At degree level the standard is high & they need to have the experience in taking responsibility for themselves for their exams. If they were allowed to retake their A levels over & over again then they would not learn how to manage their stress or plan their time efficiently (both are life lessons too), plus they would get a hell of a shock when they got to Uni. I hope you are not seriously suggesting that they can resit their finals over & over again too. They will get to Uni then complain they are getting too stressed to cope & do not have the mental tools required to study at that level, as they have not had to use these tools before at their A levels.

If they are not going to uni & are finding paid work after their A levels then their stress levels are not likely to decrease as they hunt for & take on employment & all the new experiences that entails. The skills that exams demand are skills that they will need to function as an employee.

I understand the need to help our children all we can, but at A level age I think we can back off & trust them. How will learn the consequences of laziness & not trying hard enough if they get multiple goes at an exam, you will get the mindset that its a Saturday night & nobody studies on a weekend & so what if I fail I can always retake.

These young people are stepping over the verge of adulthood & need to take on the responsibility that that brings.

ilovesooty Fri 09-Nov-12 19:21:57

*I took my A Levels in the mid 70's and re-takes were almost unheard of.
I think there's too much hand-wringing about the poor little mites to be honest. Life is stressful and competitive, so they might as well get prepared*

I agree.

creamteas Fri 09-Nov-12 19:22:16

The main problem that this decision is that it is (again) being rushed in. Currently the courses are designed for modular assessment.

If you want the exams to be at the end, really you need to redesign the curriculum to suit that assessment method. Not doing this will a significant disadvantage

Almostfifty Fri 09-Nov-12 19:24:15

There is no resit in Scotland. You get one exam, or wait another year. There is an appeals process though, which is very good if you need it.

Tuttutitlookslikerain Fri 09-Nov-12 19:33:24

I actually agree with the scrapping of January exams. DS1's school insists on them sitting papers in January, he got a D in his As English paper last January, after getting an A* at GCSE, re sat July and got an A. He felt the teachers were rushing through the teaching and most of the pupils in his friendship groups did a lot of re sits and scored a lot higher.

WRT practice papers, for the last 2 weeks he has been spending most days doing a past paper from one subject or another in preperation for his January exams.

This new way of doing things is going to affect DS2, he starts A levels in Sept 2013. It opens up our options a bit wrt sixth form because we had discounted his present school soley on the basis of January exams, the school we have chosen don't do them, so if he wants to change his mind he can. I think it might make him work that bit harder too, because he can be a bit too relaxed but if he knows he has only one chance and his future relies on it, I think for him it could be a good thing!

Trills Fri 09-Nov-12 19:40:49

I think YAB overly extreme to say "ruin their future".

Mrsjay Fri 09-Nov-12 19:44:22

dd failed 3 highers (scotland) she appealed 2 and got 1 her future is fine got to do the course she wanted as she had past 5 highers the year before in 5th year it isnt live destroying imo it is just an exam I have just bought past papers for dd2 she starts her standard grade prelims in 2 weeks <eek> but she can only do her best

ImperialBlether Fri 09-Nov-12 19:47:40

It will also give students an extra few weeks of lessons - the January exams take a lot of time out of the school year.

lovebunny Fri 09-Nov-12 19:50:11

the posh unis won't accept resits anyway.

i've employed the resit system to get some of my 14s to 16s through A levels. we won't be able to do that in future. that seems fair enough to me.

frogspoon Fri 09-Nov-12 19:52:06

Allowing just one resit is more than fair. Top universities currently have difficulty identifying the top candidates as anyone can get a higher grade if they resit the paper enough times. Reducing the number of resits to one would enable universities to choose the best candidates.

At university you are allowed just one resit per exam in every year, except finals (no resits) at most universities. When you apply for a job and are unsuccessful, there is no resit (but you may try again at a later stage). Life is not made up of resits. Welcome to the real world.

ILiveInAPineapple Fri 09-Nov-12 20:54:32

On the A Level course I teach, we only enter students for the summer series as they historically do badly in January exams - they are not mature enough in Jan of year 12 to sit them and be successful on the whole.

It was always on the cards once they changed gcse exams, but I really fear that they will do huge damage by rushing into it. It will work with proper planning but the specifications need to be rewritten to take account of it being terminal exams.

As an aside, the vast majority of uni courses (I actually can't think of any exceptions, but I am sure there are some!) have a component of modular assessment, so in terms of preparing students for further study, it seems mad to get rid of modules. Maybe they should have kept modules but created a synoptic component to the final exam like they do in finals at uni

BadgersBottom Fri 09-Nov-12 20:56:49

Absolutely what schoolgovernor said.

CMOTDibbler Fri 09-Nov-12 21:01:36

I think its a good thing. It used to be that you were only allowed to resit in extreme circumstances. Now it seems to be an attitude of 'its ok, I can just resit it', rather than just doing your best and accepting what that is.
The industry dh is in has compulsory exams, and the new graduates have real trouble with understanding that they only get one resit chance, and after the initial exams, only one go a year

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