GCSE, A Level and AS Level exams now underway; educators share ways they support students and help them reduce stress
With GCSE, A Level and AS Level exams currently underway, principals noted that the majority of students so far have expressed optimism about their exams, although there are still some challenges.
The main concern is managing and overcoming any obstacles, with exam timetable conflicts being the main concern.
Many students choose courses offered by different exam boards such as Pearson, Edexcel or Cambridge which incorporate the English National Curriculum and are approved by the Ministry of Education.
The headteacher explained that, given that each exam board is a separate entity, some students experience overlapping exams.
However, educational institutions are making a concerted effort to mitigate any potential adverse effects on students. They do this by implementing measures such as ensuring students avoid communicating with peers who have already completed their exams.
They stress that solutions are being devised to successfully deal with this situation.
Craig Halsall, Principal of Reach British School Abu Dhabi, said: “The exams held at Reach British School have gone very well so far! Our students have been well prepared for the exams, well organized and well prepared. A (major) obstacle for our students to feel anxious or worried.”
Some students clashed because the exam timetable was set for the nation to avoid the possibility of sharing questions and answers online.
“There have only been one or two minor issues about exam conflicts that are beyond the school’s control and have already been flagged by exam boards as future,” Halsall added.
GCSE, AS level and A level exams start on 15 May 2023 and final exams will be held on 27 June 2023.
He added: “As a school we support our students in a number of ways, including holding review sessions to help students improve their knowledge and exam skills. We also work closely with them to hone their time management skills, Because we know it’s an important test-taking skill.”
Some principals reiterated that they were also scheduling school awards days the week before exams so students would understand that not all grades needed to come from exam results.
Nicole Haynes, Principal/CEO of GEMS Westminster School in Ras Al Khaimah, said: “Each exam season can present unexpected challenges; students sit exams from a range of different exam boards, which can lead to conflict , that is, students take three exams on the same day. Other potential challenges include managing multiple exams at the same time, making sure students arrive on time and don’t forget to bring the correct equipment. Occasionally a student has an accident, a family emergency, or gets sick and then we have to pass the exam The committee applied for special consideration, requiring students to still have their test scores available. Otherwise, they would have to sit the test in the next exam series.”
At the same time, schools have stepped up mental health support services to ensure students are supported emotionally and have an outlet for exam stress relief.
Counselors, mentors, and wellness coordinators, among others, can provide guidance, emotional support, and stress management techniques.
Alan Forbes, Head of Secondary at Star International School in Mildiff, said, “Students have also been busy practicing and reviewing at home. There are specific intervention strategies in all subject areas to encourage personal best for students of all abilities. .In our school, lessons in each subject will continue until the end of the final exam for that subject.”
The Headteacher explained that GCSE and A-level exams have been an exhilarating journey so far, full of challenges and triumphs.
James McDonald, Principal/CEO, GEMS Wesgreen International School – Sharjah, said: “We have dedicated support to help students during this critical time. We have organized extra study sessions, review workshops and one-on-one tutoring to Meeting the individual needs of each student.”
Schools are adopting innovative technology to effectively monitor student progress. Data analysis tools are used to identify each student’s strengths and areas of development, enabling targeted intervention and personalized feedback.
The academicians stress that this enables students to focus on specific areas that need improvement and optimize their learning strategies accordingly.
GEMS Winchester School – Fujairah Principal/CEO Emmanuel Keteku said: “We have a dedicated team of school counselors and welfare who have set up a quiet room for the students, which is like a relaxation area. Students can go there to decompress or Learning. It’s filled with comfy chairs and cushions and quiet music so they can relax through the day. We also attend GEMS wellness sessions where our students learn how to pot plants, mind coloring, Meditation and many other activities to help kids manage their emotions and their exam stress.”