A Conversation for GCSEs


Post 1

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

Lovely article. Just what I'm suffering through now smiley - winkeye. Maybe it should mention the evils of coursework smiley - smiley.


Post 2

Jenny and Fred the cheese

the point is GCSE's aren't even that important! England is the only country in which presurises teenagers like this.


Post 3


have no fear!!!
i dropped out of school a year early and did not even enter ANY of my gcse's and i have a full time ,well paid job that i am very satisfied with. you don't need school if you have a brain and self belief so tell the education system to stick it's hed up it's arse and leave you alone.
good luck with whatever you do in life.
bye bye

The Horrors of GCSEs

Post 4


GCSEs are pretty poor, yes... I mean, you only need to get good enough results to get into (sixth form) college, and then you start all over again!

Nice article... a minor niggle, though... surely 'As' should read 'A's? Or As?

I've got a GCSE in english, y'know.


Post 5

Researcher 93445

Well, the USA doesn't have GCSEs, though it does have SATs (for college-bound students) which bring on some of the same pressure.

And I was under the impression that Japan had something of the sort as well...perhaps researchers from other parts of the world can fill us in on whether their own school systems have some equivalent torture or not.

The Horrors of GCSEs

Post 6

Jenny and Fred the cheese



Post 7

Hammy of Hamster (died, still moving)

Snap! we havs SATs too. At 10 and 13. But we have GCSEs as well isn't that fun!


Post 8



Not for me anyways.... the mocks were bad enough
*screams in delight at knowledge that last mock was over today*
smiley - winkeye


Post 9

Researcher 93445

Hm, if they happen at ages 10 and 13 then your SATs are not the same as ours...in the USA that stands for "Scholastic Aptitude Test", they're used as college entrance examinations.


Post 10

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

In the US, the only test you have to pass is your Proficiency Exam (unless this is only a California state thing?), which is laughable. If you can read, write, and add up change, you'll pass the proficiency. As for the SAT's, the scores had been dropping steadily over the years, so in 1994, the test's writers dumbed it down considerably, to the point that now Mensa no longer considers it a valid test of intelligence.

Of course, there is still an excellent education to be gained in the States, if you're interested. And if you're not, you can look forward to making Assistant Manager at McDonald's after a few years of hard work and dedication. smiley - winkeye After all, all the unskilled labor is being done in third world countries anymore.

SATs in the UK

Post 11


Over here, I *think* they stand for Standardised Attainment Tests, or something... you take them before leaving primary school for highschool, and just before embarking on your GCSE courses. They cover english, mathematics and science, and basically give your highschool an idea of how well they can expect you to perform.

In fact, the year six (end of primary school) SATs are used to predict what GCSE grades you're going to get... and a school's performance, I think, is rated by the difference between these predicted grades and your final scores. But I could be wrong on that.

SATs in the UK

Post 12

Researcher 93445

Thanks for the exlanation, 26199. We're separated by a common language as usual.

Gargleblaster, those proficiency tests are California only. The US has no national program of standardized, required testing for all students. Various states have implemented their own programs, but I'm not aware of any that have the depth or difficulty of the GCSEs. Probably parents would revolt and burn the schools first.

And yep, I could have gotten my university education in the States without learning anything. However, there are still enough good teachers out there that it's possible to get an education...you just have to want it badly enough (the fact that I was paying for it all out of my own pocket helped).

But with the state of public education in the US at the moment...well, my wife and I are definitely planning to homeschool our kids.


Post 13

Mike Little

As an 'older' person in the UK. I took end-of-school 'O' levels at age 16 (and did very well thank you). Having seen some of the
revision books for GCSE's I can only come to the conclusion that in the UK too, the exams were dumbed down some years ago.

One of the few good things I can say about the current level of education in the UK is that there is a greater emphasis placed on course work, which was non-existant for most O levels. I still believe that most Western education systems are based around the priniciple of passing examinations: That is, regurgitating remembered facts and figures all in one nerve wracking week, in a stress inducing situation completely unrelated to how those facts and figures will be used in real life;
rather than preparing a child for career and adult life.

One principle, I have found to be very true, is that if a child has not learned to learn, and learned to like learning by the age of say eleven (when rapid brain development has all but stopped), then the best that can be expected is 'mediocre'.

I'm lucky, I love to learn, I treat each and every experience, be it good or bad, as a learning experience, and I benefit from
that every day of my life.


A Levels

Post 14

The Cow

A-Levels are pretty bad too. I got really good GCSE grades (Ask if you really want to know) and am hoping to go to uni somewhere. Cramming seems to be the only point in most GCSE subjects. Except English, where you actually need to be able to think for the unseen paper, and don't have to remember too much for the main literature exam - you can take notes in on the book. Now -thats- what the blank pages are for!

SATs in the UK

Post 15


Actually they're not just a California thing. However, parents were (and probably still are, somewhere) raising such a fuss because they're kids were flunking...

"The tests are designed so that anyone other than a middle class white child will fail!"

*sigh* balderdash!

I'm not sure what the status on them are now. They were originally, iirc, a federal thing -- put in because the collective intelligence of our kids is so blasted low.

The education in the US as compared to most of the advanced world really sux. *sigh* (Which isn't surprising -- we're also the only one without a nationalized medical program.)

*bites lip to avoid another rant*


Education 'n' stuff

Post 16


You know, I've yet to hear anyone really *complement* their country's educational system... I mean, there're bound to be some places getting it right, if only by accident, so let's hear it... which countries/states/colleges give you the best education?

Persn'lly, I think that compulsory education should be extremely broad.... and they should teach skills as well as facts, so that *everybody* leaves school having learned something useful... I mean, having someone spend eleven years in education without actually gaining anything at all is completely ridiculous...


Hence they should teach people who aren't going to *get* any GCSEs to, I don't know, play music, work with wood, whatever... I mean, in eleven years you can get darn'd good at pretty much anything.

Anyway. Thoughts?

Education 'n' stuff

Post 17


Thoughts? Hrm.. I think one of the many troubles with schools these days is how easily they give up on kids. I mean, it used to be if you ran into something you just couldn't grasp, your teacher -and- your parents would work with you over and over (whether you liked it or not smiley - winkeye) until you could do it. Now, the first time a student shows a little stress at figuring something out, they pull them out of class and put a label on them, giving them easier stuff to do (like pizza parties).. "Oh well.. we're always going to need garbage haulers and ditch diggers." ... Erm.. Work with them. Who knows.. maybe you'll stumble on the one person that, with a little assistance, is eventually going to develop a way we -won't- need those services and -everyone- can have a cushy push-button job!

oops.. there I go again. smiley - winkeye

Education 'n' stuff

Post 18

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

I disagree with mouse's post. I don't think the problem is the teachers. I have a cousin and two friends that are schoolteachers, so I know how much effort they're putting in. But if the kids aren't also willing to put in the effort, it all goes for naught. In the US a subculture is growing up that despises learning. It isn't 'cool' to be smart, which is a shame, although I've never been concerned with being cool. Most kids are, though, and that's why they're unwilling to learn at all. That's the real problem with eduation today.

Comedian Chris Rock did an excellent diatribe on this in his now-infamous "Black People vs. Niggas" bit. "Niggas break into your house, you wanna save your money - keep it in your books. Niggas don't read. Just put it in your books. Books are like kryptonite to a nigga." Of course, the problem isn't just limited to one race.

By the way, before I get jumped as a racist, I'd like to point out to the uninitiated that Chris Rock is, in fact, a black man. It's the only reason he got away with saying what he did, but he got abuse for the entire bit anyway. He's laughing all the way to the bank.

Education 'n' stuff

Post 19


You know, I think you might be right... but I reckon I'm right, too. Schools give up too easily in some cases, and persevere for too long in others. None of this is helped by the simple fact that most school kids actually don't *want* to learn.

But, like I said, anyone can get good enough at something to make a living... take juggling, for example. Alright, not a great way to make a living, but it's a skill like any other.

Two years ago, anyone you'd have asked would have laughed if you'd've suggested I become a juggler. Now, I can juggle better than anyone I've met, bar the ocassional professional. It's just a case of believing you can succeed. If schools could teach *that* to kids, they'd get a lot further...

Persn'ly, I'd be equally happy learning a trade as I would be learning what I'm learning now, even though the former suits me better than it does most people. There's a lot to be said for getting really really good at something.

Education 'n' stuff

Post 20

Researcher 93445

As usual, reality is complex. There certainly are good teachers out there, but it's equally true that there are teachers out there who got a poor education themselves and are bluntly unqualified to teach anyone else. Of course, it's a vicious spiral: as standards get lower, teachers get worse, leading to worse students who need even lower standards to pass.

Some of this is probably because large chunks of this society conceive school as a place to park kids for 8 hours a day rather than as anything to do with "education" any more.

I think it's still possible to get an education if you try. I wonder whether even that possibility will be there in the future? If we have kids, we've already decided to homeschool, in order to have SOME hope of educated kids.

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