What do you think should happen with exams this year?

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ashtolga23
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I thought I'd repost this in a different category, as it probably makes more sense here. I'm speaking mainly of A-Levels as I'm in Year 13, but a lot of what I'm saying could probably apply to GCSE too; I'm not sure how applicable it will be to any other system.

I understand that there's a lot of debate surrounding this, so I was wondering what people think will happen about exams because of COVID-19. Personally I don't think the 3 week pushback is really good enough, but I admit I'm struggling to think of systems that would work better. I'll explain my thought process below if you want to read it, but feel free to just express your own view. Have you any ideas you think work better than those already being floated, or do you think the 3 weeks is good enough already? Do you think they will cancel exams but they just don't want us to waste a year doing nothing?

At first I thought cancellation was the only fair way to do this, because there are so many issues with exams going ahead. There's always some inequality between schools, but that's really to be expected; I don't think there's usually anywhere near this kind of disparity. People have been dealing with technological issues, bereavements, mental health issues, or being ill themselves. Some schools are open while others are shut, and some students (including myself) are choosing to stay at home while their school remains open because the risk is too great. I also don't understand how exams will work for those who contract the virus in the exam season. Having said all of this, Ofqual have branded using statistical models instead of exams an "impossible task", so it's hard to see where we go from there. Which is fairer: sitting exams with this number of problems, or using a less-than-ideal algorithm? I'd hope we'd get something better than the class of 2020, who I really did feel for this summer, but I'm not sure how much they could salvage some sort of statistical model.

Another option I advocated for was more optionality. This is something we can already see a lot in many exams (in my GCSEs this included latin, RS, and history), and they can clearly manage it as they've already made adjustments to GCSE English literature. I also believe the IB has gone for this route.

I've also heard other interesting ideas and potential systems, and though some are better than others I definitely don't think there's a flawless way of doing things. Maybe papers would have to be rewritten, and there won't be enough time to test them, or maybe it works only for sciences and so ignores those doing three humanities. I may speak to some people about adding their ideas onto this thread, because I think some of them would be the best we'll get, but I don't trust myself to explain them adequately haha.

Thank you if you've read this far as I know it's a lot. I really wouldn't want to be calling the shots right now as it's just such a hard decision. So, now I leave it to you. I look forward to hearing what you would like to see implemented, if you even think we need anything else. Whatever happens, good luck to all of you in exam years.
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abby.oc
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Hiya, I'm Y13 too
I mean the fact that Scotland's already cancelled their A-level equivalents doesn't bode well. Like my German teacher was saying the other day, I wouldnt mind if we got centre assessed grades again but only if we found out now - you know, we have to do X amount of essays/papers and they go off that. It seems like a decent idea.
Also my further maths teacher thinks they should do the exams but have it be like 'here are 12 questions you answer 9 of them' (for the topics we've coveredin school rather than self taught ones). Also a fair shout.
There's just so many options and I really hope the govt doesnt make a mess as big as last year's.
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1st superstar
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I think that they should go ahead as normal.
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by abby.oc)
Hiya, I'm Y13 too
I mean the fact that Scotland's already cancelled their A-level equivalents doesn't bode well. Like my German teacher was saying the other day, I wouldnt mind if we got centre assessed grades again but only if we found out now - you know, we have to do X amount of essays/papers and they go off that. It seems like a decent idea.
Also my further maths teacher thinks they should do the exams but have it be like 'here are 12 questions you answer 9 of them' (for the topics we've coveredin school rather than self taught ones). Also a fair shout.
There's just so many options and I really hope the govt doesnt make a mess as big as last year's.
I think the first of those options is a little risky as people could likely cheat very easily if they knew that were the case, but it's a possibility.

I like the idea your further maths teacher has, and it's one I've been thinking might work myself.

I doubt they will, but who knows at this point?
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by 1st superstar)
I think that they should go ahead as normal.
Ah fair enough. Mind if I ask for your reasoning?
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tinygirl96
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This is a tad risky.
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by tinygirl96)
This is a tad risky.
Which option haha?
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tinygirl96
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Option One
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1st superstar
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(Original post by ashtolga23)
Ah fair enough. Mind if I ask for your reasoning?
Want them done and over with.
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by 1st superstar)
Want them done and over with.
Yeah I get that. I'd actually have preferred nothing to this 3-week thing.
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1st superstar
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(Original post by ashtolga23)
Yeah I get that. I'd actually have preferred nothing to this 3-week thing.
I don't see how the delay is going to help that much...
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by 1st superstar)
I don't see how the delay is going to help that much...
Same here. It's not nearly enough time, and it just means that we'll be stressed for longer, with a shorter break.
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1st superstar
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(Original post by ashtolga23)
Same here. It's not nearly enough time, and it just means that we'll be stressed for longer, with a shorter break.
Tbh they better announce the exact exam dates ASAP.
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by 1st superstar)
Tbh they better announce the exact exam dates ASAP.
Hmm, I agree. I think for mine I'd like to see:
English Literature - [CANCELLED]
Psychology - [CANCELLED]
Religious Studies - [CANCELLED]

:innocent:
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starrystudy
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Tbh, a lot of things can go wrong even with CAGs. Different schools (I go to a grammar eek) have different levels of exam difficulty, so our exams are a LOT harder than state schools (both my sisters go to a state school). In the case of exams being cancelled, state school students would have an unfair advantage over us which really isn't an ideal situation
I also want to do medicine, and so far my school tests haven't gone that great (and I do better in actual exams) so yeah I don't reaallyy dont want exams to be cancelled ):
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Anonymous17!
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Cancel exams and give everybody A*’s and A’s

Just kidding. Tbh, I feel like the government i England is reluctant to cancel exams because of the fiasco that happened this year. If they use the idea of CAG’s, that means they only have two options:

1. Apply the same standardisation they used this year and cause outrage again at lowered grades or

2. Give everyone their teacher assed grades which would no doubt cause massive grade inflation for the 2021 results and 2020 results.

Neither option is good, so I honestly feel like they will push for exams to happen even if it means delaying them until July or August time. Speaking as someone who received CAGs for my a-levels this summer, me and a lot of other people I know would have honestly just preferred to have exams delayed until July and results day in September. Most uni courses don’t start until late September anyway so people would have gotten results in time. Sure, it would have caused an issue for people’s whose courses start earlier or people who needed to go through clearing and adjustment etc, but still, people could’ve joined courses late. Better to miss a few months of uni than be forced to take a gap year.

Idk what will happen with exams, but hopefully they will go ahead. If they do get cancelled and CAG’s get used again, let’s hope this time that exam boards ask for evidence to back up CAG’s so there’s no unfair downgrading or grade inflation. Maybe teachers need to send in 2 or 3 of the most recent mocks to back up a grade, or where a mock was taken use an AP. It’s not a perfect solution, given that there’s no real standardisation with mocks etc, but some evidence needs to be used if CAGs do happen again. I think if the government plan on cancelling exams or are considering using CAG’s, then exam boards should set a standardised mock. That way, every student from every school, private or not, high achieving or not, will have at least one of the same mock done at the same time. Of course, that also isn’t a perfect solution as not everyone will have covered the same amount of content, and some schools could fake or inflate mock answers results. Sigh, there’s really no good solution to this. The best solution is to just do exams as normal as we can. Cancelling them just opens a can of worms.
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1st superstar
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(Original post by ashtolga23)
Hmm, I agree. I think for mine I'd like to see:
English Literature - [CANCELLED]
Psychology - [CANCELLED]
Religious Studies - [CANCELLED]

:innocent:
Disagree...
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by starrystudy)
Tbh, a lot of things can go wrong even with CAGs. Different schools (I go to a grammar eek) have different levels of exam difficulty, so our exams are a LOT harder than state schools (both my sisters go to a state school). In the case of exams being cancelled, state school students would have an unfair advantage over us which really isn't an ideal situation
I also want to do medicine, and so far my school tests haven't gone that great (and I do better in actual exams) so yeah I don't reaallyy dont want exams to be cancelled ):
I've never heard this argument before. I go to an independent so I'm interested.

By your exams being harder do you mean the internal ones? If so, wouldn't your teachers be able to show where you would be compared to the rest of the nation? I'm also curious at how you know that they're significantly harder, as I would assume you have to do past questions just like everyone else. Not trying to deny your claims, but I'm curious at to how much harder they can make them; some state schools also use hard questions in mocks so that students are potentially prepared for anything in the real exam, as I've seen with some of the ones around me.
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RA:)
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As a student who received CAG’s this year I can tell you that having teachers calculate grades for you just isn’t the right way to go about it again. I would have done anything to have taken the exams over going through all the stress the CAG’s put me and a lot of other people through. No matter what anyone says they aren’t fairly calculated, teachers can state they had evidence to give you a certain grade but realistically they’re going to put their ‘favourite’ students over students they didn’t get along with as much if it’s a boundary situation. A lot of us had interviews during the mock period and were told that mocks were just used to help US find areas of weakness, but when it came to deciding our grades, they were the main factor to be used. Some schools took advantage of the system and inflated grades for students where they weren’t likely to get those sort of grades in the real exam, and some stuck strictly to the government guidelines. I understand that it hasn’t been easy for you guys and you’re all in a difficult situation (I fully agree with all the points given in the first post) but you’re at least able to prepare for the worst- you have the opportunity to revise for mocks and all other aspects of work as hard as you possibly can. We weren’t given the opportunity to prove ourselves, but rather thrown into the deep end. Believe it or not, I came from a private sixth form and still did not receive the grades I deserved (and no it’s not a situation where I received something ridiculous like 2A*’s instead of 3). At least if you end up taking the exams, you’ll have the chance to prove to yourself that you can in fact get the grades you want instead of having someone take that decision away from you and making that choice for themselves. That’s my opinion on it anyway
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by Anonymous17!)
Cancel exams and give everybody A*’s and A’s

Just kidding. Tbh, I feel like the government i England is reluctant to cancel exams because of the fiasco that happened this year. If they use the idea of CAG’s, that means they only have two options:

1. Apply the same standardisation they used this year and cause outrage again at lowered grades or

2. Give everyone their teacher assed grades which would no doubt cause massive grade inflation for the 2021 results and 2020 results.

Neither option is good, so I honestly feel like they will push for exams to happen even if it means delaying them until July or August time. Speaking as someone who received CAGs for my a-levels this summer, me and a lot of other people I know would have honestly just preferred to have exams delayed until July and results day in September. Most uni courses don’t start until late September anyway so people would have gotten results in time. Sure, it would have caused an issue for people’s whose courses start earlier or people who needed to go through clearing and adjustment etc, but still, people could’ve joined courses late. Better to miss a few months of uni than be forced to take a gap year.

Idk what will happen with exams, but hopefully they will go ahead. If they do get cancelled and CAG’s get used again, let’s hope this time that exam boards ask for evidence to back up CAG’s so there’s no unfair downgrading or grade inflation. Maybe teachers need to send in 2 or 3 of the most recent mocks to back up a grade, or where a mock was taken use an AP. It’s not a perfect solution, given that there’s no real standardisation with mocks etc, but some evidence needs to be used if CAGs do happen again. I think if the government plan on cancelling exams or are considering using CAG’s, then exam boards should set a standardised mock. That way, every student from every school, private or not, high achieving or not, will have at least one of the same mock done at the same time. Of course, that also isn’t a perfect solution as not everyone will have covered the same amount of content, and some schools could fake or inflate mock answers results. Sigh, there’s really no good solution to this. The best solution is to just do exams as normal as we can. Cancelling them just opens a can of worms.
I was surprised that your exams were cancelled so early on, and I thought it was a pretty hasty decision. Like I say, I truly feel for your year. The difference I see though is that schools were closed in March, by which point I'd assume most Year 13s at the time would have almost finished their courses. On the other hand, my year have missed significant time, and as I said in my original post some are still off (including myself).

I agree that cancelling exams also brings many problems, but I wonder if it outweighs the ones we're already facing. I imagined a fairer algorithm, although I'm not sure how this would be handled. Taking things like the school's history into account was unfair as it didn't see people as individuals within their institution, so I think that factor would have to be removed for instance. I'm honestly just not sure what would be best anymore. At first I thought standardised mocks were a great idea, but that just seems like we'll be facing the same problems that are seen with the real exams at an earlier time.

I really just can't make up my mind. I'm so stressed.
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