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Exams in Great Britain are used to determine and group the upcoming generation according to their intelligence, and then give each group the opportunities believed to be most suitable to them. However, it can be argued that exams in fact test students abilities to cope with stress, time-pressure and their ability to memorize huge amounts of information to regurgitate on paper rather than their mental capability. Whilst at A level, especially in science, it is more about application rather than reproducing hours worth of notes in an exam, students are taught how to answer all types of questions that could come up, and overall end up adding exam technique to the long list of things they need to remember.

The youngsters in this day and age are not only having to deal with growing up, but are thrown into oblivion and coerced to decide what they want to do with their lives, which is very hard to do at such a young age. On top of this, is exam pressure. The underrated pressure that accompanies exams, may in some cases be natural and enforce students to push themselves to do well, but in other cases, the pressure affects students to the extent it is unhealthy. It has been proven also, by Edge Hill University, the University of South Australia and the AQA exam board that pupils who worried about grades scored up to one and a half grades lower than their peers. This is evidence that exams aren’t necessarily an accurate reflection of students capability.

The pressure of GCSE’s have also been linked to mental illness’ in teenagers. Lucie Russell from YoungMinds, a charity which helps young people with mental health issues, said: "Every year we get calls from parents asking for advice on how to help their children cope with exam stress.” The idea that whilst exams are trying to benefit the upcoming generation, it may also be distorting their collective approach to certain situations as a result. The education system is fantastic in developing students to be more confident, through public speaking and presentations, and provide skills that will be needed in life. However, the skills gained from daunting revision are very unlikely to be needed again, and the practicality of assessing in this way undermines real-life situations that may be faced. Learning from textbooks and the internet removes how students may apply what they learn to reality, and also causes them to only associate the information with exams.

Worryingly, many GPs now prescribe more anti-depressants such as Prozac and Seroxat to help young people deal with stress due to exams. The number of anti-depression drugs prescribed to 16-18 year olds in 1995 was 46,000, but last year this rose to 140,000. Regardless of the various opinions towards exams, these statistics show the seriousness of the stress caused. As the exam system is unlikely to be changed, awareness needs to be raised regarding how to recognize stress in individuals, and then how to deal with the symptoms. If you are having sleep problems, are constantly tired, suffering from lost of insterest in activities, and feel more anxious, you are stressed. It is advised that you keep a good diet to fuel your brain and also exercise to de-stress your mind. Sufficient sleep is encouraged and other activities should break up revision to de-stress you’re mind. Many students are unaware of the ways to identify if they are stressed and then deal with them, therefore awareness needs to be spread.

It could be argued that whilst it may be true that exam stress is having negative effect on students, there will always be a minority who have a bad effect to education methods. Some young people thrive under the stress, and time pressure encourages them to work and improve themselves. They also generate healthy competition between students, which enhances individuals determination to do better. Ultimately exams provide the qualifications for people to have job opportunities, which can only be seen as a benefit. Overall, examinations are the only way distinguish young people for employment which seem to best suit all students. Although it causes stress, there are ways to work around stress, and if awareness is raised, it can be minimized.

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