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GCSEs, a Student's Perspective

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Every year, the exam results make headlines. "More Grade A*'s than ever before", "A-Levels are getting easier" or this year, "Number of GCSE English passes falls". Exam boards cannot win. Forever destined to be criticised for whatever results they may garner, they will be either undoubtedly be "dumbing down" students, or as this year examples, cheating them out of their appropriate grade.

Regarding the media coverage of the GCSE English grades, there seems to be two schools of thought developing. Firstly; that the grade boundaries should have been moved long ago; achieving a top grade has become too easy, and standards should be raised. Or; it was unfair to shift the grade boundary without notifying the candidates, and in addition, the supposed ease of the exams is media hype.

Whilst both are equally valid opinions, I am far more likely to agree with the latter. The GCSE is an examination that is prepared for through the course of two years. This preparation obviously includes a student's awareness of where their work and abilities lie in terms of grades. So, to haphazardly shift the boundaries without their knowledge is unfair to say the least. Where is the time allotted for students to adapt to the change? By all means, change the grades at the start of year ten, when they are first beginning the course, but just before the exam? Foul play.

The problem in this debate is that the students are being overlooked. They are not simply statistics, quotas of certain grades that must be filled, or Gove's pawns to be pushed around on a political playing field. The majority of them have studied extremely hard for these exams, and to be lowered below their expected standard must be incredibly disappointing. Having taken the GCSE English exam myself in 2011, and achieved an A*, I can safely state that it is not an easy exam. A high standard of analysis, evaluation and writing is expected. Facts which overlooked as newspapers attempt to sell their pages about how effortlessly a pass may be attained.

I doubt any rectification will come from this fiasco, but hopefully ,at the very least exam boards will realise that a certain consistency is required.