My Thoughts on Exams

Stress, anxiety, illness, memory loss and general discontent. Apparently this is what the education system wants for its students today. Never mind 12 months of revision and preparation; when you’re sat in an echoing exam hall on the verge of a mental breakdown with a sweaty pencil in your hand, all that hard earned knowledge is irrelevant. It’s about how fast you can write.


I won’t be the first to admit that my essays which are set for homework are infinitely better than those set to do in 20 minutes in class. The same goes for exams. 1½ hours of verbal diarrhoea on an exam paper is no match for an unlimited time slot where you can actually listen to yourself think and produce knowledgeable answers under no pressure at all.


Since when did speed become more important than knowledge anyway?


I get that we need to prepare ourselves for fast-paced work environments in professional industries, but I fail to see when in my future career (whatever it may be) I will need to describe and evaluate the causes of a psychological disorder in under 10 minutes.


Maybe I am just being a teenager about this whole issue, but I’d love to know whether teachers and other professionals know/remember the pressure and stress we are going through, and whether they agree that exam grades should perhaps be based on knowledge rather than speed. Just a suggestion, ludicrous as it may sound…


The physicality of it is often impossible as well. My AS Latin Literature paper last year was 1 hour, and there were at least two essays, a large translation and several smaller questions. I didn’t come across a single person who managed to finish the paper. My point being, the quality of written work when under severe time pressure is so much worse than what a student is actually capable of when not under pressure.


I hate it, but that’s life. I’ve been told too many times that this will be the hardest, most stressful and most hardworking year of my life. And all I can say is I’ll be glad when it’s over!


I think this post qualifies as a rant, and for that I apologise, but I hope I have made sense in trying to put forward a student’s point of view on exam stress. I’m pushing through it this year just like many others are! The best thing to do is make a plan and stick to it. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Until next time!

El x



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