You are sitting at your desk surrounded by a mountain of homework and revision. Frustrated by your timetable that you spent hours making with your endless amount of pastel highlighters. A few minutes ago you were immersed in Spanish verbs. Later today, you will revise English, Maths and History. Spending 2 hours on every subject. Welcome to the intense world of a Higher student. From The First World War to Pythagoras’ theorem; we jump between subjects. And at times it feels like we are only being tested on facts.
Revising for Higher exams are a different kind of minefield. Most higher students only have 4 or 5 exams this year, which do not seem like much. Until they realised that these would be the longest and most demanding exams they have ever sat. Some of the exams are almost three hours long. There is more content to learn for each exam than for National 5, and you are expected to regurgitate more information in less time.
Every year thousands of students sit exams, whether its National 5, GCSE, Higher, or A Level. Exams should be scrapped. This means that they should be ridden of. Ever since our primary education begun, we have been studying for exams every year. The education system states that exams are a good way to test a students’ capability of a certain subject. Exams are also supposed to allow a teacher to know a students’ individual standard, allowing them to differentiate each students’ own abilities. It is also a common and universal method of testing that is used around the world and has been for a long time.
But is it an accurate method? Many point out that written tests could cause a variety of serious problems, for example, say you spend hours revising a topic and it is nowhere to be found in the exam paper. But what does come up is a topic that you have been told would never pop up in a million years. It is argued that exams do not check your understanding or passion of the topic, only how strong your memory is and how good your exam techniques are. Schools spend too long preparing for exams, the average time has moved up from 2 to 3 years. Some schools even spend 5 years preparing for exams! It is even debated that there is no school curriculum anymore, it is all based on exams and what you need to remember for them.
Exams are not an accurate representation of a students’ knowledge, intelligence cannot be defined by exams as some people are better at taking exams more than others. The problem lies with the word intelligence. Many ‘intelligent’ students are identified by the results from various tests. People that do well in their exams, receive good paper qualifications and constantly state how well they did. If you are clever enough, you will pass the exam. However, if you mess up in your exams due to pressure, you can be left unable to reach your full potential and be left to settle with second best. These allow little to no original thought and discourages creative thinking. So just how well equipped is our examination system? Simply put, measuring intelligence through exams is as limited as the exam itself. Whilst it might provide a reasonable filter, which could even be the best we can provide- it will not identify those that we instinctively know are intelligent.
Exams are taking the pleasure out of learning for many students and are forcing teachers to ‘teach the test’ rather than teaching for meaning and understanding. Surely teachers find it problematic that the majority of kids are attempting to memorize and cram an extraordinary amount of information into their heads? They will forget the material they learn and the only thing they will have left is a result on a piece of paper. Students need to focus on obtaining more knowledge and ignore their results. This might be harder said than done, but it’s true. Results are not everything. Results are the only way to engage students with studying and they need to find a way to motivate themselves for school besides striving for the scores they want. Schools might as well just become exam result factories. School would be a more fun studying environment if grades were not a distraction and the main focus was learning. Some schools even prevent their students from learning, it’s all about the results on the league tables and chasing meaningless ‘badges and stickers’.
Exam stress and pressure. The words every student loves to hear. Exams have become so important that many students go through severe stress and pressure for months on end. The problem needs to be addressed to reduced the number of students who suffer from anxiety due to this country’s prejudice education system. Over the course of exams, many students are faced with a make or break situation.
Also, a lot of the things we study for exams have little to no use in the working world. For example, Maths. Not everything we learn in Maths needs to be applied to our jobs. Students study so hard for Maths just to do well on their exam to get good paper qualifications and to get a good job.
Some schools do not even hold examinations. Drumduan School located in Forres, Moray, is an alternative school that was co-founded by actress, Tilda Swinton. The students start their day with Tai Chi; a Chinese martial art and then move onto science, which can sometimes involve canoe building or cooking. The lessons at Drumduan make sure that students spend as little time in the classroom as possible. The headteacher of Drumduan school, Krzysztof Zajaczkowski says that the curriculum of the school is to ‘unleash the true potential’ of every child. The school leavers do not have any qualifications, their achievements are portfolio based and at least half of them will go onto further education, including degree courses. The school says that universities and colleges are becoming more open to students from non-mainstream schools. Mr Zajaczkowski says that changing attitudes will take time and ‘it won’t happen overnight, but I think everyone knows the system has to change’. Imagine leaving school with no qualifications. How can you expect to get a good job without qualifications. Put yourself into the position of an employer, you have a candidate that has numerous qualifications and a candidate with no qualifications, but they have a portfolio of work. Who would you pick? Surely the more qualified person would get the job. Nowadays you are unlikely to get a job without qualifications.
In conclusion, exam results are ruining the way we think of education. They do not adequately prepare us for the world of work.