Comment: Let students learn from their mistakes

exams - Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ
People should have a second chance when it comes to exams.

Starting this year, College and 6th form students are moving away from modular exams with four separate exam periods and towards a 2 year course with one final exam encompassing the entire syllabus.

Working from the idea that students cram before modular exams and then forget the entirety of the content afterwards, this 2 year exam structure ensures that the students in question will have had to crammed 2 years’ worth of content, before completely erasing it with cheap booze, blackjacks, and hookers AKA a gap year.

Undeniably this news story is old, and I am sure most people already have a firm grasp on why the changes are taking place and the impact it may have on results. Whilst the changes to the A-levels may not directly impact any of you, the University has recently decided it may change the shape of its academic year; aiming to mirror A-levels more closely having end of year exams instead of two separate exam periods.

There have been many responses to this change with most focusing on the fact that it is “unfair to ask so much of students at the end of the year” (Owen W.) Or that many students “chose this university because of the assessment structure”. Being an engineering student, with many projects, lab reports and highly modular units I obviously have many reservations about this change.

I feel however, just as I feel with the A-level changes there is a potentially more devastating outcome which has been mostly overlooked by both the media in general and the University specifically. This is that students don’t have the required time to find out what they wish to study or in which direction they wish to take their lives.

Most of you will have gone through the A-level system in order to get to University. The A levels as they were gave a chance for students to realise that the subjects they had studied in school are very different when applied in intellectual spheres. Likewise from A level to university, the content, work requirements and method of learning changes dramatically.

It is damn near impossible to know what a course in engineering or politics will be like at the age of 16 even for that matter at the age of 18. This is a period in our lives where we need to make mistakes, we need to try out as many subjects as possible in order to truly know what it is we enjoy and wish to carry on with.

Whilst I can understand from an institutions point of view, people changing subjects, taking half a year off to work and travel, or having to organise many exam periods may be disadvantageous. It would seem our institutions need to remember that they are as much a service to the students as to their end of year statistics and that students being both passionate and happy with their subject choices can only produce positive results.

The people I know who get the most out of university are those who made their mistakes, failed their first year of college or changed degree after some terrible first semester results. Changing to longer examination periods only serves to stop this happening; leaving a generation pushed into A-levels then pushed into higher education all whilst never having the time to work out what it is they want to do or why it is they are doing it.

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