Socialist Worker

End an unfair exam system

Issue No. 2717

The exam system is rotten

The exam system is rotten (Pic: Karl Baron/flickr)

Class, not ability, determines what grades you get in school— and the exams fiasco in Scotland made that explicit.  

Students unable to sit exams due to the pandemic were graded by their teachers. But these estimates were then fed into a “moderation” system that dragged a quarter of the results down.  

The pass rate for students taking the Highers exams in the poorest areas was cut by double the rate of those from the richest backgrounds.  Students weren’t judged on their abilities, but on how “good” their school. 

Many students have rightly protested that their postcode determined their results.  


The same is happening in England. Teacher assessed grades haven’t been used to calculate the “vast majority” of GCSE grades according to the Times Educational Supplement (TES).  

And one exam board told the TES that around 60 percent of grades for popular A-Level subjects are based purely on statistical modelling.  

This modelling traps students into their class position. It says that you’re less likely to achieve high grades if you attend schools in poorer areas.

Fury at the injustice in Scotland has pushed first minister Nicola Sturgeon to pledge changes. That’s good—but temporary alterations are not enough.

The entire exam system is a sham that’s rigged in favour of the rich. It needs to go.

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