New Style Exams – Gove’s Brutal Torture or Blessing in Disguise?


Written by Abdurrahim Hussain – Student Writer

Over the past few years, we have been plagued by the media bemoaning how the introduction of the new style of GCSE’s and A Levels are possibly the worst thing to have happened to the education system, and how they will lead future generations to despair and worry. With A Level results day having just passed, and GCSE results day on the horizon, one has to question whether things really are as bad as the media have made it out to be?

It is without a doubt that the new exams are harder. That’s why the reform was brought in in the first place; to make the exams more ‘fit for purpose.’ This was of course brought on by complaints from universities that students weren’t going into university ready for their courses, and so began the reformation campaign that has, and will continue to make our lives hell. As a student who has just completed his GCSEs, as part of the first year to sit mostly new style exams, I can first hand share what the experience has been like. Yes there were a lot of nights where I stayed up trying to cram in the last piece of information that I just couldn’t get my head around. Yes it was a nightmare trying to balance the few coursework elements I still had with the stress of having to revise because everything depended on the exam and the exam alone. Yes there were times I wished I was born a few years earlier so I could have missed being the guinea pig year. But at the end of the ordeal, I honestly have to admit that I do see what Mr. Gove envisioned when he first brought out these reforms, having sat the exams and having myself been a very firm critic of him up to this point.

The bottom line is that whilst the exams are indeed harder and the lack of a coursework element does make it more stressful as everything depends on what happens on the day, it all comes together in the end to give us a better education, and make us better learners. The removal of coursework means students are freer to focus on learning and understanding the content that they need to know. The harder exams at GCSE allow students to be more prepared for a harder A Level course, which in turn allows students to find the transition to higher education easier, and make it easier for them to get to grip with their university education. Additionally, I think a significant factor in contributing to the paranoia around these new exams is the great British art of complaining. Students are complaining in more public forums such as social media, which is showing what they are going through, but is it actually much different to students from previous generations? Did they never spend nights cramming, or balancing revision with coursework and other commitment? And we all know for a fact that the night before results day is a sleepless one at best.