Are exams getting easier or is teaching getting better?

by A Guest Author

The chances are that if you sat GCSEs, AS-Levels or A-Levels at any point over the past twenty years, you were part of a record breaking year for top grades and passes. There is also a very good chance that those in the year below you broke that record when they took those same exams. As such, there is an enormous chance that you, the people in the year below you, and every single student who was part of a record breaking year group, will have faced the same accusations; that exams are getting easier.

It seems to follow too, that people who took their exams years ago, in the period of O-Levels and GCEs, are encouraged to tut-tut at the standard of examinations and fret over the future of education in the UK. Bizarrely, we are quickly approaching a situation where students who were told, twenty years ago, that their exams were easy, are now being compelled to furrow their brows at how easy exams are for this generation.

Normally, the statistics and recriminations are trotted out in August, when the record breaking exam results are announced. However, this year the denunciations have started early with an Ofqual report that suggested that GCSE and A-Level geography and science were less demanding than they were ten years ago. This is put down to a move towards more multiple choice questions, and a shift from long essay-type questions to a shorter form of questioning.

Amongst all of the voices berating schools and exam boards, the voices that claim that teaching is simply getting better are hard to pick out. When people, especially the media, look for reasons why exam results continue to approve they look at every angle from exams being easier, to schools teaching students how to pass the exams rather than teaching the subject thoroughly. They claim that schools have to act in this way because of league tables. It has even been suggested that more educated diets are the reason for elevated results. Nobody ever seems to credit the teaching.

There is no measureable criterion (other than exam results) that can be used to say definitively whether teaching has improved in the past two or three decades, but anecdotal evidence would suggest that it has. All students approach their exams with the knowledge that exam results have been on a relentless upward trend since before they were born. This knowledge must surely breed complacency, rather than pressure, as the picture that is painted is that they need only turn up to achieve top marks. That teachers manage to teach students successfully, while fighting a potentially blasé attitude, is testament to their skill.

It is impossible to say for sure whether exams have gotten easier, even the Ofqual report says that it is the structure of the questions rather than the questions themselves which are less demanding, or whether teaching has improved. All that is certain is when results time rolls around, records will be broken and the debate will start all over again.

guest Author:

Written by Kat Kreatzer, a blogger with work experience in the independent school sector

This post was written by A Guest Author

This post was written by a guest author. If you have high quality, useful information to share with students, send us an email or click Write For Us to learn more. And in case you're wondering - yes, you can promote yourself in this fancy author byline.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: