Unbelievable: UK Students Are Ill-Equipped for Further Education Because Of GCSE

4 years ago



The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academic assessment taken by students of secondary schools in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. According to the Guardian, the many UK sixth-formers are challenged by the transition from GCSE to the A-level  feeling unprepared for the “learning required to do coursework at A-level.”

Since coursework is no longer a part of GCSE, for some A-level subjects it’s worth up to 20% of academic qualification. Although most teenagers today are tech-savvy, many of them are short of essential study skills. As a result, this takes a toll on higher education. In 2012, the Cambridge Assessment exam board study discovered that first-year degree students had to take “remedial” courses to redeem basic skills in research and essay-writing.

GCSE Pitfalls: Rewarding Cram, Not Study

Last year’s changes to GCSE resulted in the assessment system encouraging the students’ ability to cram. Thus, haphazardly memorizing loads of information, students mindlessly render it at the exams. Approaching education like this is both unfair and ineffective. In 2015, researchers at the University of Oxford discovered that teaching to the test in both UK and USA schools led to a significant decrease in academic performance. The study revealed the drop in literacy, maths, and problem solving among 16-24-year-olds. However, 15-year-old students were close to average scores in those subjects.

What Do Students Think of All This?

As for the students taking the exams, they are often unsure if they like the all-exam assessment system. Some are happy with the changes to GCSE, others feel scared and insecure about it. According to the Independent, more and more young people are seeking help from the Childline support service due to the exam results stress. The data released by Childline, suggests that over 1,000 counseling sessions were provided to teenagers who worried about their exam scores. The number of sessions has increased by 21% over the past 2 years.

The problem stems from the situation that many British schools begin the GCSE preparation in year 9. The questions from the past exam papers are given in class, for homework, or even included in the end-of-term tests. Following this path further on will leave any creativity “at the classroom door.” The system has to change to prevent total student disengagement from the school subjects.

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