40% of candidates would fail exams second time round

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New findings by the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors reveal that the test-laden UK education system is creating a nation of crammers - and that 40% of candidates would actually fail an exam taken in the same subject one year after passing it. 

The research from the CIEA, which surveyed over 1,900 adults in the UK, found that nearly one third (32 per cent) use short-term cramming and memorising of facts to prepare for exams. This figure rises to nearly half (48 per cent) among 16 to 24 year olds. 

Graham Herbert, Deputy Head of the CIEA, the body dedicated to improving the skills of all those involved in assessment, said: “The point of education should be to create well-rounded individuals, but it is evident from the study that our exam-laden education system is forcing students to memorise facts without gaining long term knowledge or in-depth understanding of their course material.  This method of studying can lead to lower quality learning; exams may be passed but the rich content of learning outcomes may well be forgotten.”

Exams are a key way to measure and monitor students’ performance. However, hot-housing students to achieve higher exam results appears to cause young people to miss out on the joy of learning with many unable to remember what they are taught.  When asked how they revised for exams – only 40 per cent of respondents admitted to really understanding the subject.

Herbert continued: “These findings provide yet more evidence that good pupil assessment is not just about exams. The scrapping of Key Stage 3 national curriculum tests will create an assessment vacuum, providing an excellent opportunity for teachers to focus more on internal assessment and quality of learning rather than just teaching to test."

The CIEA is working to ensure that teachers are equipped with the assessment skills needed to fulfil this role and aim to provide every school with access to a Chartered Educational Assessor by 2020.


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