Exam reform can't come quickly enough

By Deborah Coleman - Straight Talking

Published 09/06/2015 | 00:00

Deborah Coleman.
Deborah Coleman.
A tough couple of weeks for exam students.

We might not have experienced the usual June heatwave last week but the Leaving Certificate started right on schedule.

It's more than a decade since I sat the exam and I still remember the dread that I felt.

It was more stressful than any other exam I've taken since (the driving test is a whole other column!) and yet year after year young people are forced to ensure the pain that it the finale of their second level education.

Last Wednesday I heard a radio interview with a student who got a Garda escort to his exam centre because he almost missed the exam and this summed it up.

After putting in two years of works, but in reality it is closer to five or six he had to get there or see all this time wasted.

Unlike third level exams there are no repeats so if you are late, if you are sick, if you have a bereavement - you will have to wait a whole year to do a re-sit.

This all adds to the pressure that surrounds the Leaving Cert and has so many students sick to their stomachs in the misguided belief that their entire professional futures rest on this momentous set of exams.

Of course education is extremely important and quite frankly any young person who has the opportunity should grab it with both hands.

Leaving Cert reform can't come quickly enough I believe because it would be much more beneficial to teenagers to be able to move towards their chosen career path without having to sit close to ten exams, many of which are completely irrelevant to them.

They spend so long studying subjects that they could do without which leave them with less time for the ones that actually interest them and that they are good at.

Nobody said that exams were meant to be fun or easy but the Leaving Cert wouldn't be such a horrifying experience if it was more student friendly.

The sheer length of some of the exams alone at over three hours is gruelling and by the end of a long week how can anyone perform at their best?

Perhaps it is simply personal preference and some students like getting the exams out of the way in one go. A sort of 'cram and go' philosophy, but one has to wonder how much they actually retain once the exams come to an end.

Wexford People

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