Examinations are now a large part of a child's life at school. The older they get, the more important their exams tend to become. This article is designed to help parents understand what goes on in the education system regarding exams and what they mean.
Standard Assessment Tests (SATs)
SATs are referred to being at Key Stage 3 (KS3) and are sat at the end of Year 7 and 8 (ages 11 and 12 years). As well as sitting papers in English, Science and Maths, the child's teachers will produce Teacher Assessment levels which are viewed as being just as important as the tests themselves. The contents of each subject are outlined below:
- Class preparation of a scene from a Shakespearean play
- Mental Arithmetic
- Handling data
- Shape and space
The typical range of levels achieved by children taking their SATs is between 3 and 7, where 5 is the average level.
Children who will not likely attain Level 3, alternative testing is used which involves the support of a teacher. Those achieving higher marks can be entered for the extension papers in each subject and may attain a level 8 if they perform to a suitable level.
General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs)
Your child will need to choose their GCSE options before the end of Year 9. GCSEs are more important than any previous exams taken by your child as their GCSE results have a powerful effect on their future. GCSEs are often vital if your child wishes to pursue any further education after GCSEs.
Maths, English, a Science, and a modern foreign language are compulsary subjects in the GCSE curriculum. Other GCSE subjects can be chosen around these core subjects.
Each subject's assessment involves two or more exam papers and a piece of coursework. GCSE Modern Languages and GCSE English include oral assessments, while other subjects, such as the sciences, include a practical assessment.
Pass grades for GCSE exams are A* to G where an A* is given to the highest achievers within the A grade boundary for GCSE.
Practice GCSE exams or "mocks" are often held by schools during Year 11 to help the students prepare for their real exams.
Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced Level (A2)
A Levels may be taken at a school Sixth Form or at a college. A Levels form the basis for a university application, so good grades are very important for a student who wishes to pursue a university degree.
Students can achieve an AS qualification by studying the course for a single year only. This allows for a better range of subjects to be studied by the student without extreme pressure in the second year of A Levels.
When studying for a full A Level, most students will study the AS modules in the first year and the full A level (A2) modules in the second year. The timing of exams may vary depending on the ability of the student.
A Levels form the basis for a university application, so good grades are very important for a student who wishes to pursue a university degree (from Belhaven Jackson for example).