This is a pre-warning, this post is a bit of a rant. I don’t rant on my blog very often (say, once every two weeks) but hopefully a few of you will share my frustration and understand that what I’m ranting about, deserves to be ranted about. Phew.
As many of you may know, I recently sat my final A Level exams and picked up my results on the 16th. I did okay (I got two A’s and a B) and I got my place at University on the course I love, however there was one little thing spoiling it for me – the amount of media coverage, newspaper articles and blog debates about ‘A Levels being far easier than before’ in order to cater for the ‘lazy youth of today’. Now, I don’t know about you but reading that in the papers each day – even though it’s not entirely directed at you – kind of demeans all the hard work and effort I’ve put in over the last 2 years and looking back even further, over the last 15 years – which have built up to me taking my final exams. And many of young people I know are also sick of hearing such sweeping statements in the media, written by those who probably haven’t taken an exam in years. And is that fair?
I’m not saying all young people are angels, however I think they deserve a little more respect from the media (and the people making claims) because sure as eggs, if they sat an A Level tomorrow, they wouldn’t be saying that they were easy. A Levels are extremely hard, far harder than any exam I’ve sat prior (and so they should be). They take an awful lot of hard work, revision and exam practice (and even then, you still need to do more). One article on the Daily Mail claimed that exams like GCSE’s (which are also claimed to be ‘far too easy’) were going to revert back to the original O Levels, in order to really test students, ‘get them off Facebook’ and ‘give them a taste of the real world’. Charming.
What really irks me (if I’m not annoyed enough already) is that there is never any mention about BTEC qualifications (which are more vocational qualifications, to be taken if A Levels aren’t your strong point, or if your course is a more practical subject – ie: Dance, Performing Arts, Woodwork etc). Without sounding horrible, the BTEC was designed for students who find exams hard or who prefer a more practical way of learning, however these are never criticized when talking about ways of examining students – it’s only A Levels (which involve several exams and copious amounts of coursework) that get all the stick.
Now, I’m not demeaning BTEC qualifications, I think they are absolutely fantastic and a great way of measuring students abilities without one exam at the end of the year that can go horribly wrong and ruin your entire grade. I’m just saying that I think it’s rich to say that A Levels make (or cater for) students laziness, when there are qualifications below A Levels that require less exam practice, revision etc.
In all debates however, it is worth looking at the opposite point of view. I have never myself sat an A Level exam that was given to students 2o years ago, and so would not really be able to compare whether they have got ‘easier’ as such. I too, have never sat in an A Level lesson that was given to students over 20 years ago. So I could not compare this either. However, what I do know is – the A Levels given to students today are not a breeze. They do take an awful lot of effort and commitment on the students part and they have also been brought up to date. By that I mean that there are new ways of teaching A Levels (so perhaps this is why grades are higher than 20 years ago), there have been new discoveries made since 20 years ago and similarly, we have the internet – a major platform which enables students to far more information than ever before – so we are able to add little bits of extra information into our essays (perhaps accounting for higher grades than 20 years ago). Perhaps?
Apologies if I have utterly bored and confused you, but hopefully I have put across just a little of my point in a way that is understandable (as I do tend to waffle rather than say things in a succinct manner!). I just hope that one day people who haven’t sat an examination in years, stop demeaning young people and the exams that they sit. Whilst there are some young people out there that are lazy and spend hours and hours on the internet (I do, but only for my blog!), I am sure I speak for the majority in the fact that most young people work extremely hard to get the grades (from A Levels, GCSE’s and BTEC) in order to get their Sixth Form or University place.
We do spend time on Facebook yes, but many of us are good at balancing our social life, internet life and school life – and are not ‘lazy’. If you are reading this and are of the opinion that A Level examinations are ‘easy’, please log onto AQA or OCR and take a look at one of the philosophy papers, one of the physics papers or perhaps one of the psychology papers. Print it out, sit down and see if you can give it a go. If you’re struggling to answer all the questions to match with the mark scheme, then your with us – it’s difficult, it takes lots of dedication and revision and plenty of hard work. Proving that, in actual fact – we’re not all that lazy after all!
What’s your opinion? Have you worked hard only to be demeaned by those older than you, who call today’s exams ‘easy’? Or are you of the opinion that exams are easy than ever before and cater for a youth who are lazy? I’d love to hear what you think?
What you’re saying on Twitter about this article: