Let’s abolish all the final exams!

The May is coming to an end and the final exams are something that now occupies minds of most of young people. Some of them have already passed all of them, while others are still cramming for the remaining ones. But are these big tests really that important?

The answer for that question is not as simple as you may think. There’s been a lot of criticism of schools lately, because they are said to be getting more and more exam-oriented. They are simply focusing on the end of year examination and everything they do throughout the year has some connections with it.

On the other hand, it is very important for the students to get the best marks possible. Why? The most obvious reason is that the better your marks are now, the wider will be the range of universities wanting you and the more likely you are to get a well-paid job on today’s unstable job market. The next would probably be the parents’ expectations and personal ambitions. The A levels or the equivalents are treated as the most important moment in one’s education. Not everyone will go further to get a degree and there’s a lot of pressure on getting the highest marks possible.

Teachers are judged on grounds of their students’ achievement, so it is perfectly understandable why they put so much emphasis on doing all types of exercises that improve learners’ ability to do well on an exam rather than on learning more facts and information that are useful in the future studies or work. The tests themselves are getting more and more complicated as it comes to structure, and less reliable as an indicator of potential of a future attendant of university. The exams are bad, bad, bad – everybody complains about them, but let’s be realistic – what other possibility do the we have to select the best pupils? Talking with each student would take too much time as the candidates almost always outnumber the places available. Setting entrance exam is basically doing the same thing, but in other time. And using personal statement and teacher’s reference as the only requirement would be simply foolish.

But what’s so wrong with it? It’s long been that way – you are taught, you learn, and you are required to show how much you’ve learned. And it works just like that since our first years in school. And since we don’t have any choice, we should just lay it to rest.And if you want to rebel – you’ll end up failing a year. At least, it is how I see it.

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Do the big world and normal people really go together?

People spend great deal of time scrolling down the BBC or PBS , reading newspapers or glued to the screen during evening news. The certainly want to know what’s going on – not only locally, but also globally. But I observe that we acknowledge the facts, complain about politicians – who they previously elected – and stop caring about it.  We do not even question the accuracy of all the information that filter through different parts of the world to us – and it is not uncommon to watch the same fact presented in different stations in a completely different way.  Where you stand depends on where you sit, as the saying goes.  We don’t want to meddle in political life – we may argue with our  fathers-in-law about who should win in the next elections, but let’s be honest – how many of us really do a research which politician did most for improving our lives or passed the bills that we deem right?

We’ve got to understand that our current situation is unstable – we’ve got military conflicts, high unemployment rate  and big corporations exploiting their workers. There is also an issue of safety – in 2011 in more than 30,000 people died from  gunfire, and recently more than two hundred schoolgirls were kidnapped from schools in Nigeria. Moreover, we are constantly being watched – we aren’t really anonymous while surfing the net.

But what an ordinary citizen of this planet can do? Our only duty to question everything that we are told and think about it. Too many people walk away from problems that don’t affect them directly. Let’s not let the infocalypse flood us and ensure that we will never live in year 1984.