Should Year 12 exams be scrapped?

Should Year 12 exams be scrapped? Some of the country's leading educators say they are 'archaic' and need a complete rethink.

Students around Australia are currently sitting their state's version of end of year exams with mixed results. Exams are stressful. Are they really the best way to test the intelligence of our teenagers?

University of Adelaide executive dean, faculty of sciences Professor Bob Hill says mid and final-year written exams should be abolished, at least when it comes to science subjects. "The sooner we get rid of the three-hour written exams the better we will be," he told the Adelaide Now. "It was archaic 40 years ago and it's no longer the way we should be testing people."

However the pressure students experience during exams is similar to the sort of pressure they will experience in some professions and in life in general. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Professor Hill says it depends on the student. "Some people just happen to be fantastic at sitting three hours under pressure and writing until their hand drops off - is that really telling you who a good scientist is?"

The University of Adelaide aren't the only educational institute rethinking exams. Many are looking at new standards of assessment for students in Year 12 and the same debate takes place during exam time every year. Currently most states have a combination of written work, oral work and exams.

Associate director of student relations at Curtin University, Dr Jim Elliott, says exams are still relevant. "The obvious ... question is do we having anything fairer to replace it with? If we tailor different assessment methods to suit individuals, we have no basis for comparing their grades."

I remember sitting my HSC in NSW. There was a real sense of camaraderie. We were all in the wars and the sense of relief once they were complete was amazing. Celebrations commenced. Then, results day and having to deal with the joy or fall out of results.


Here's where parents come in.

Good year 12 exam results are just one way to achieve students career ambitions, not the only one. Students need to understand that results are not the be all and end all of their dreams? That's the truth.

If exams are put in perspective in this way, that should go some way to relieving the pressure.

In the meantime the debate still rages.

The case for Year 12 exams:

1. Students need to demonstrate they can perform under pressure to prepare for jobs and further study;

2. Exam conditions are the same for all students so all are affected by the same stress and pressure;

3. There is evidence to show they assist in the learning process;

4. They push students to stretch their thinking;

5. Exams test time management;

6. Exams allow for the uniform evaluation of students.

The case against Year 12 exams:

1. Exams only test academic intelligence;

2. Stressful exam environments can often lead to students performing poorly;

3. Written assessments assigned over a two year period allow students to perform better with less pressure;

4. Alternatives such as oral exams provide more comprehensive testing of students abilities;

5. Poor results can cause students to give up on pursuing further education;

6. Students can suffer from 'information overload' due to the stress of several exams.

Do you think Year 12 exams need a rethink?