The benefits of internal exams
By Sarah Beynon, Head of Learning Support

What, you may ask, are the benefits of internal exams and why do we have them? Don’t they just increase stress for students and take time away from teaching the curriculum? Whilst acknowledging that the last two points may well be true, I would argue that the benefits outweigh the costs; let me explain why.

A third year student said to me recently that he had looked through the window of the exam hall and seen the 5th years sitting there doing one of their GCSEs. He thought it looked really scary and couldn’t imagine himself being in the same position. This exemplifies the first reason for doing internal exams, practise helps demystify the whole exam process and allows students to become accustomed to the setting of an exam hall and the formal procedures associated with it, ahead of them taking their GCSEs and A Levels.

The second reason is to allow students to practise in a low stakes environment before they have to perform in a formal setting or, as they would say, ‘when it really matters’! If you, like me, enjoy watching ‘The Great British Bake-off’, then you may be able to draw some parallels between that and the exam process. You may have noticed how, when the contestants are having a spectacular culinary disaster or seriously running out of time, the judges will ask “Did you practise this at home?” As with baking or music or sport, and so too exams – practise helps perfect technique and can ensure that, when needed, everything is more likely to go all right.

I have recently talked to the Lower School students about preparing for their exams. I explained to them that not only do their end of year exams give them a chance to show what they have learned this year but also it is in preparing for them, that they will hone their revision techniques and discover what works best for them.

Our theme in Chapel this term is ‘Looking backwards, looking forwards’. As students look forward to sitting their exams, I hope they will look back at past exams and, by putting into practice the lessons learned from doing them, will understand the benefits.

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