Today is A Level results day, and again there has been an increase both in the percentage of passes and in the number of A grades. But rather than celebrating this, there are many who would rather undermine the achievements of students in such stories as I expect to see in the Daily Mail in the coming days. They like to say that the exams are getting easier and that young people these days are less intelligent than they were 20 or 30 years ago.
I get so frustrated with these cynical kinds of people. Is it not to be expected, not just celebrated, that in an advancing society people are becoming more and more skilled as time goes on? Furthermore, the longer an exam system is in use, the more accustomed teachers get to it and the better they are at teaching their students. I know my teachers’ past experience was invaluble to me in interpreting various texts and developing a good essay technique.
This is another way young people are demonized by society, just like the various news stories about ‘hoodies’ (I regularly wear a hoody and yet I’ve never beaten up an old lady. I must be a miraculous exception :/). Nevertheless what annoys me most is that if these fuddy duddies prevail and the exam system is revised completely, my achievements will be undermined and the grades on my CV will look… false, because I’ll be one of the last to go through a dying exam system.
I do, however, welcome the addition of an A* grade to the A Levels in 2010. It’s evident that top universities are finding it difficult to differentiate between the best students, and the A* will prevent particularly talented students having to worry about taking extension papers or using an alternative exam system such as the IB, both of which might not be provided at their school. Hopefully the additional grade will make it easier for people from poor backgrounds to make it into the top universities. This is an area which needs particular attention, as the differences between the south-east and the north-east demonstrates.