Stern ex­am­i­na­tion

Daily Mail - - News -

I WAS curious about the new, tough GCsEs (Mail), so looked at the high­er­level prac­tice ma­te­ri­als for this year’s French exam and com­pared them with an O-level pa­per from 1966.

The new GCsE has a trans­la­tion into French pas­sage of some 50 words con­tain­ing two tenses (present and fu­ture). The old O-level pa­per for the same task con­tained more than 150 words and five tenses.

The new exam lasts one hour and 15 min­utes, whereas the O-level pa­per was two-and-a-half hours.

I feel sorry for can­di­dates fac­ing what they feel are chal­leng­ing ex­ams. It is clear, how­ever, that there has been a slow, but steady, ero­sion in the dif­fi­culty of ex­ams taken at 16 since the six­ties.

The Gov­ern­ment’s re­forms have gone a lit­tle way to re­turn to higher stan­dards, but there is a long way still to go.

St John Cox, taunton, Som­er­set.

AS A PAR­ENT of a Year 11 stu­dent sit­ting ex­ams, I can en­tirely un­der­stand why pupils are dis­tressed and par­ents/teach­ers are in de­spair.

We knew our chil­dren would be in the first year of the tougher ex­ams, but what a dis­as­ter it has turned out to be. we were in­formed two years ago that there wouldn’t be enough time for schools to com­plete the cur­ricu­lum, so the past two years of study seem to have been hur­ried.

Stu­dents have been rushed through topic af­ter topic with lit­tle or no chance to as­sim­i­late the in­for­ma­tion they have been given. If there was some­thing they didn’t un­der­stand, ‘just go back and read through it in your own time’ be­came the mantra.

With the ex­ams ar­riv­ing, ex­hausted chil­dren re­turn home to in­form you that not only was the test harder than they were ex­pect­ing, but that some of the higher-scor­ing ques­tions weren’t re­lated to the syl­labus.

It will be fur­ther de­mor­al­is­ing for these stu­dents when they ap­ply for jobs and the em­ployer sees only B and C grades, whereas a stu­dent from a pre­vi­ous year might have straight as un­der a dif­fer­ent sys­tem.

Mrs h. Raf­feRty, Con­gle­ton, Cheshire. I was in­trigued that teenagers have had to en­dure hours of pre-ex­am­i­na­tion re­vi­sion and have been suf­fer­ing panic at­tacks af­ter sit­ting tougher, new GCsE and a-level pa­pers.

My im­me­di­ate thought was: ‘wel­come to the world of O-lev­els and a-lev­els of the six­ties and sev­en­ties!’ My gen­er­a­tion sim­ply had to knuckle down, pay at­ten­tion, do the work and learn the stuff. There was a point to it, even though we didn’t re­alise it at the time.

The ac­qui­si­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of knowl­edge, plus learn­ing how to pay at­ten­tion to de­tail, were all part of pre­par­ing us for the stresses, strains and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of life. and the bonus is I still use a lot of the stuff I learned all those years ago.

Ms L. GiL­Lan, ad­dress sup­plied.

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