The exams start NOW

Christmas cancelled, new variants, school closed and six weeks into lockdown 3.0 – it’s been a tough start to 2021, and the question on all of our minds is: what is happening with exams this year? 

The official announcement from Ofqal is still yet to be released. However, we’ve been liaising closely with our friends in the teaching world and have heard from a number of reliable sources that assessments will be taking in place in the summer. Exams? Yes… But not the typical 90 minute ones that get sent off to exam centres for external markers. 

Our understanding is that schools will set papers and smaller tests towards the end of the summer, mark them themselves and then send the grades on to the exam centres. If a student feels those tests didn’t go well, then they will be allowed to submit a piece of supporting coursework. 

What does this mean for students? Well the exams start now. Teachers are not only the trainers for the big race, but the judges too. And students need to be the best students for them. Bribing teachers with chocolate, wine, jewellery? Sure, who doesn’t like a gift. But one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is when students understand and make progress. So follow the advice below and get working – 2021 exams are now a marathon not a sprint.

  • Stay on top of deadlines 

Without that final exam date, every piece of work handed in needs to show your best efforts. Try your best, proofread and treat every piece of work as a vital piece of coursework, and – most importantly – don’t miss a deadline. 

  • Work hard in class

Might be an obvious point, shouldn’t you be the best version of you in class anyway? Yes, but right now, you need to be on your A game more than ever before. Turn up on time, stay alert, ask questions, answer questions and stay on topic. Show you’re a good student, every class is going to be an assessment now, so get used to being your best.

  • Ask for help

No one expects you to understand everything or to get that essay/calculation/etc right on the first try. Learning is about trying and with every try there’s always a risk of not getting it right. Keep trying and if you’re confused go to your teachers, get that feedback, inquire about extra sessions. It shows initiative and signals to your teacher your desire to improve and that you’re working hard to achieve your goals. 

  • Pace yourself

This is a marathon now, not a sprint. Yes you do need to work hard consistently, checking your work more often, but over a longer period of time. So ensure you’re looking after yourself, exercising, zooming with friends and maybe even reading for fun? If things do get too much, let your teachers know. As long as they know you’re working hard and can see your progress, they’ll be happy. 

  • Stay positive

This year has been tough and unfair to everyone, especially students. Remind yourself of your future goals, why you’re learning and the joys that learning can bring you. Education isn’t always going to be fun, but learning is the gift that keeps on giving throughout life.

by Ellen Sowerby, Tutor Placement Manager at Bonas MacFarlane