After GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled in early January 2021, the government announced that grades would be ‘teacher-assessed.’ This was then changed to smaller, more frequent assessment as it was up to each individual exam board as to how they would award grades. The deadline for these to be marked and handed over to the exam boards is June 18th. Put simply, pupils’ official GCSE and A-level exams have been scrapped but they have been given more assessments each containing less content than a regular exam. 

It is currently 23:41, 30th April 2021 and the deadline for this article is in 19 minutes. As you can see, I am up against the clock. This is a similar situation to which pupils have been in over the last month. Near the end of March, it was announced that I would have three sets of assessments, each consisting of around ten exams, spread over seven weeks. I have been under stress for a prolonged period of time, which will not be completely over until the 21st May, when my exams finish. I have been using every waking minute of my time revising for exams or sitting the exam. Thirty exams may sound bad, but I know of other schools in the country which are sitting even more; one school is making A-level students sit 57. 

Gavin Williamson left the examination procedure up to individual exam boards, and these exam boards only listed their demands to schools very late (some as late as the end of March. Cambridge International (CIE) requires 3 different one-hour (or longer) assessments, whilst exam boards such as Pearson Edexcel International are much more lenient, and may allow teachers to use previous exam scores as well as the scores that students achieve in this short examination period. 

To force children to undergo prolonged stress will lead to declines in mental health - the opposite of what the government should be striving for. As a student enduring the chaos created by the government in the education sector, I am appalled at the way that GCSEs and A-levels were handled this year by Gavin Williamson. To expect 15-16 year olds to be able to mentally cope with thirty to fifty exams in seven weeks is despicable, and will surely not ensure that my year group will come out of the examination period with the best grades possible, through no fault of their own or their school’s.