Up until the previous academic year, A-level (AS and A2) exams were taken in January as well as in May and June. The government has now abolished the January exams as they regard it as one of the causes of grade inflation. Another reason is that many see the idea of a student being allowed to sit each unit of an AS or A2 exam several times and picking the best grade as lacking in rigour and as devaluing the A-level qualifications.
Were January exams of any real benefit?
This abolition has resulted in controversy among teachers and parents. There are all sorts of arguments for and against the abolition of the January examinations. Some people argue that taking examinations in January provides students the necessary practice they need for the summer examination and also that it helps them to test their skills in answering exam questions. Others argue that there is no real need for a January examination, given the disruption to other aspects of school life that preparing students for examinations twice a year causes.
Is the purpose of A-level all about enjoying the love of learning or passing the exam?
I am in favour of the abolition of January examinations for various reasons and these reasons are stated below:
Having a main examination once a year provides the teachers time to teach their subject in a manner that they are able to cover the fundamental concepts. This also gives students more chance of understanding the subject from the first principle as opposed to focusing on just what they need to know to pass the exams
Students are in a better position to also enjoy the subject more and enjoy other activities within the school, enabling them to become a more rounded individual.
One academic year is enough time to study the subjects and acquire the knowledge, as well as to explore and master what they need to know to do well in an examination environment.
Minimising stress at all cost
Despite the fact that I believe a once a year examination is better for everyone, I also think that young people must avoid complacency. The reality of life is that they will be taking an exam in the summer and it is important to keep on top of their work so that stress associated with exams can be minimised. It is true, however, that there is no more pressure on them to prepare for a main examination twice a year. Keeping on top of the course by completing the tasks set for them, including class and homework assignments is vital to success. It is also important that they use time such as Christmas and Easter holiday to revise well and practise with past examination questions.
Below are some links to articles on issues relating to A-level students