Increasingly we hear arguments that exams do not matter, do not measure ability accurately, or that they place undue pressure on students. However, it is our view, that society has not changed significantly to embrace a reduction of exams, let alone its removal or replacement. As Mrs. Chong, Head of Secondary at elc International School Sungai Buloh Campus, states:
“Life is a series of examinations where you are assessed constantly and evaluated before being judged as good or needs improving. You leave school after completing Form 5 or Year 11. Then you head to a college to take another programme, perhaps the A Levels. You write the A Levels after 18 months and then you move to the university of your choice. There you study for three or four years, cramming for your year-end exams, then you finally graduate. You are free! The world is your oyster! You can have the life you have always dreamt of! Think again. You apply for a job, and you are called in for an interview. Your resume is assessed, your answers evaluated, and your ability tested. You do this a few times, then hopefully you finally get a job. Now you settle into your new office. Is it all over? Not by a long shot. In your new job, you are constantly being evaluated and assessed. Your decisions and leadership skills are scrutinised. Your performance is discussed formally at appraisals. That is when it finally hits you. Examinations never end.”
To do away with exams without adjusting the way the workplace operates, is a recipe for failure and jeopardises the chances of students’ success in later life. Change on the scale required would be slow and fraught with challenges, and it is unfair to start bottom up with students and expect employers to understand those changes and evaluate new recruits accordingly. Logically any campaign for change should start from the top and work its way down. This means that in the meantime examination success would continue to have a direct positive impact on employability for most students.
Of course, some schools have moved towards pure coursework, but this is merely another form of assessment on a long-term basis. It could be argued that this constant assessment and feedback can take its toll on a student who does not have the particular kind of work ethic suited for protracted coursework. We are all different, so finding the right type of assessment for the individual makes achieving success in school and later in life more likely. Hence, picking the right School is incredibly important to achieving future success, and what is right for one family is not necessarily right for another.
In elc International School, examinations are one method of preparation for life that continues to help students achieve success and cope with the pressures of later life. However, without support from parents and teachers, it would be impossible for students to manage completely and so there is a balancing act always in play. Whilst student mental health and the development of social skills are of prime importance to the School, the approach followed in elc is somewhat different. Together with parents, the teachers will always try to ensure there is at least some pressure present, teaching students to recognise that a work ethic is vital and that pressure is a challenge that they need to overcome and ultimately grow in resilience, ready for the next “pressure”. At the same time there must be a healthy offering of extra-curricular activities. Without parental and teacher support this would be impossible to get right, but with over 30 years of experience in education elc continues to deliver academic success and well-rounded and well-balanced students. The recent IGCSE examinations, despite the troubles posed by COVID19, are no exception with over 78% of all papers sat across both campuses at A* to A grades, and a 100% pass rate. Taken over 10 years, elc has achieved 75% distinctions for all papers sat; a remarkable feat which firmly underpins their claim of delivering continued academic excellence.
Change is inevitable and all the evidence suggests that elc will successfully adapt when required. In the meantime, however, it continues to deliver academic excellence with a team of dedicated teachers and likeminded parents, a formidable support system indeed.