Exams, for many, are very stressful. Any student in the UK, especially those in Year 11 and 13 who will have a large set of public exams coming later this school year, will be very familiar with the stress caused by the seemingly endless revision and preparation required to get the results that you want or need. Is this stress worthwhile, or are exams completely meaningless?

The main positive of exams is that they are a fairly clear way of monitoring your progress in a particular area and testing your knowledge, which can give others an indication of your ability. They also act as an incentive to work harder to learn the information that you are taught at school - because otherwise there’s a good chance that most students would lack the motivation to do so - and instil a better work ethic in you as they make you more organised and encourage you to manage your time better.

The negatives, however, are that they can place heaps of overwhelming pressure on young people who find it difficult to cope. Students are forced to give up more and more of their time to revise in the lead-up to their exams - which many find depressing and difficult - while the exams themselves can ultimately determine whether they are able to apply for certain jobs or schools. This idea that exams are the be-all and end-all makes them stressful enough, and they are severely demoralising and damaging to the self-esteem of those who "fail" them.

In my opinion, exams are not the problem at all – it’s the importance that is placed on them by schools and employers and others who only care about students’ results that is the problem. If children weren’t indoctrinated into thinking that exams decide their whole lives and whether they are a success or a failure then there wouldn’t be such a problem.

Therefore, I believe that it’s not the exams that need to change, but the attitudes towards exams as well as the consideration amongst people towards students that needs to change.

By Oliver McCabe.