Exams have ‘outlived their time’ say some pupils at one Dundee high school, while others feel they get a sense of achievement from them.
Four youngsters at Grove Academy, in Broughty Ferry, voiced mixed opinions on exams, following this week’s announcement that they will be held next year if safe to do so.
S5 pupil Ellie Boyle, 15, from Kellas, has never sat an exam before. She said: “I’d prefer to do exams over class assessments because it’s more organised.
“Even though there was more opportunity to do well with the assessments, it was just so stressful – one day I had two on the same day.
“But now I’ve said that I’ll end up doing exams and wishing it was back to teacher choice.”
Ellie, who is currently studying five Highers, said through the class assessment model she was able to improve one of her grades with a resit, as were others who failed their first attempt.
She said: “It was good in that sense but I think it is more fair to do one and you know what you’re getting into because you have the prelims to prepare for the proper exam.”
I get the importance of them but I think they’ve outlived their time.”
Harry Leadingham, S4
Fellow Grove pupil Alexandra Bain, 17, from Claypotts, has only ever sat one round of prelim exams. These were when she was in S4, just months before the first lockdown was imposed.
Now in S6, Alexandra said: “We’d spent two years building up to those exams and they were in class – it will be nerve racking going into an exam hall for the first time.
“I do get nervous and know that I don’t perform well under pressure so that could affect my performance.
“Personally I think the assessments gave a better opportunity because you could make up for it if you didn’t do so well on your first attempt.
“But I am glad we’re doing them because I don’t want the first time I do a formal exam to be at uni.”
Lachlan Latto, 17, from Broughty Ferry, is also pleased with the return to exam structure.
I work better with the pressure and having that goal.”
Lachlan Latto, S6
The S6 pupil, who is currently studying two Advanced Highers and two Highers, said: “When exams were cancelled I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to show what I could do.
“Exams provide an opportunity to demonstrate what I can do and get a sense of achievement for it and I think that opening up that letter on exam results day is a good life lesson.
“Some people can get nervous or anxious about exams but I work better with the pressure and having that goal.”
However S4 pupil Harry Leadingham, who is yet to sit an exam, disagrees.
The 15-year-old, from Barnhill, said: “I don’t agree with exams. You spend four, five, six years preparing for them just for a few days and if you’re not feeling great, it could ruin your career.
“I get the importance of them but I think they’ve outlived their time.”
The school’s head teacher, Graham Hutton, also thinks exam structure is outdated and believes a more continuous approach to assessment is needed.
He said: “There are very few instances in life which rely on everything that happens within one day.
“Even in a job interview you have to apply, there are references, it’s not just down to how the candidate performs on one day.
“Continuous assessment rather than continual assessment to show what they have learned, not what they should have learned.
“We’re in the 21st Century and need to look at a 21st Century way of approaching assessment rather than continuing with a Victorian method.”