All is not lost: Why the cancellation of exams is a valuable learning opportunity itself


11 Plus, Biology, Chemistry, Physics & Science

March 20th, 2020

All is not lost: Why the cancellation of exams is a valuable learning opportunity itself

A-Level, GCSE and IB exams set to take place in Spring/Summer 2020 have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus. In this blog, Jen sets out why all is not lost for affected students, who are understandably disappointed.

After the news broke earlier this week that GCSE and A level exams (and now IB exams) would be cancelled this year, students in their thousands took to social media to proclaim their justly felt disappointment and frustration that they won’t have the chance to see two years of hard study reach fruition. “It’s all been a waste of time!”

Learning is learning, examined or not

However, were that true, we would be conceding that the point of learning is primarily to pass exams. As teachers, we strive to instil a love of our subjects and a curiosity to know more. Learning is learning, examined or not.

Teachers know what you are capable of achieving

In practical terms, although this is yet to be clarified, the cancellation of exams may mean that students receive grades based on their teachers’ projections. Luckily for some, this doesn’t mean that the grade they received in their mocks will be their final grade. Teachers know your child. Teachers know you as their student.  Teachers understand that there is a flurry of revision activity in the days and weeks before the exam, which boosts a student’s marks. The qualifications that students receive will be a fair reflection of their learning over the two years by people who see them every day. Not sitting GCSEs and A levels also means that negative factors such as nerves on the day, not feeling tip-top and sitting multiple exams in one day is no longer a problem.

At such fraught times, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. However, this crisis can teach our students things which exams may not: how to cope with uncertainty, how to have empathy for others, a wider global awareness, and how to understand disappointment as an inevitable part of life’s rich tapestry.

A word from UCAS

According to UCAS, ‘When it comes to recruiting graduates, attitudes and aptitudes are often seen as more important than formal qualifications.’ Resilience is frequently cited by universities and graduate employers as an essential quality for young people to possess. Moreover, there is no better opportunity for them to develop resilience than in the days and weeks to come.

More about Jennifer

Jennifer qualified as a teacher in Science in 2013, and now works as a tutor with Owl Tutors.

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