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Monday, 7 September 2015

Dear Examiners: My Future Lies In The Details

The best thing about taking exams, is the feeling you have as you get up for the last time, as the person at the front comes round to collect your paper, and dismiss you. The invisible chain that has kept you anchored to your desk for the last two months has been cut off and you are now allowed to do whatever you want, guilt free.

That feeling is a mixture of freedom and relief, but also, it is the knowledge that you have now done everything in your power to make sure that whatever result you get is because you did all you could do. Part of the freedom and relief is knowing that whatever happens next is not up to you anymore.

Although over the summer the impending nausea that surrounds the word 'results' remains, in general, anyone expecting results likes to push the idea out of their minds and dull the scary notion of the future, with the summer.

It is in the days leading up to results day that we begin to re-examine our own performances, making false predictions as to what we have passed or what we have failed. Who we will be disappointing this year, and the many ways in which we will have to make amends to those people. Regardless of how well we suspect we may have done, there is hardly a person in the country that is making positive predictions in an attempt to hopefully far supersede the doubtfully low expectations that you have been subtly trying to work into your parents heads.

Finally the day comes, and you open your results. Staring at the letters that effectively spell out your future. For some people, this moment is filled with relief, you thank your lucky stars that you have met your own requirements along with the ones of your parents, the college, sixth form or university that you want to attend, and spend the rest of the day celebrating.

However, this year in particular, and I'm sure in other years too, there seems to be a large proportion of people that have come out of results day, with more painful consequences. Some people have got grades that they secretly suspected they would but hoped would never actually be true. But some people are genuinely flabbergasted by their results, shocked and disappointed at the view of letters far less satisfactory than the first three of the alphabet.

Faced with the possibility of your future slipping away through your fingers, you try to think of things that you can do to make this whole thing go away. The only thing you can think of is that this must be a mistake.

But what if I told you this actually was a mistake;

This year, I have heard countless tales of people in my year at school and in other schools across the board, who have had their papers remarked, and been regraded totally different grades. I have a friend who was moved up 18 marks, and another who went up 11. This madness is what makes me write this letter in the first places.

Careless examiners are messing with peoples lives.

Not everyone has the money to remark papers, especially not at the ridiculous prices that you are expected to pay for the privilege. I accept that the exam board will reimburse you for the money you lay out initially if the grade changes, but that is irrelevant because these mistakes should not be made in the first place.

What about all the people who decide not to remark because they don't believe their mark will change?
What about all the people who don't have the money to layout and have to go the rest of their lives wondering if their mark could have been something else?
What about all the people who just give up?
What about all the people who lose their university places and end up on a different path than what they were supposed to?
What about all the people who feel as if they have failed, all the heartbreak and stress over a false mark.

My future, and everyone else's lies in the details because when one examiner makes a mistake, it can cost a lot more than £40 per re-mark to fix.

I understand that examiners are humans and humans make mistakes, but at the end of the day these are mistakes that people cannot afford to make.

I hope that people have better luck in the future, and that from now on, examiners will pay attention to the details more than they have been, because that is where the future lies.

-LF, LR and MG