Exams & Why They Suck | Motley Monday


Until recently, I was one of those weirdos who enjoyed tests. Everyone else would be moaning and groaning, while I would be having a little party.

That is no longer the case.

Last week, I had mock exams. Five exams in three days. I have never done so badly on any assessments at school. Seriously. My brain decided to have a mental breakdown last week, causing me to fail at least three papers, if not more.

Oh, for those of you overseas, I should probably explain how NCEA (schooling in NZ for years 11-13) works. Each assessment that you do is worth credits, and you need a certain amount of credits in total to pass the year. There are internal credits, which you get from assessments that you do in class, and external credits, which you get from the end of year exams. It is possible to pass year 11 and 12 just with internal credits (meaning you could skip the exams if you wanted), but not year 13. Each school runs their own mock exams in Term Three (August or September ish) to prepare their students for the real exams, which are in November.

I should probably explain about papers too. Each subject has a different number of papers (which are the external assessments) that you sit. I sat three maths papers, two chemistry papers, three English papers, two Māori papers, and one music paper. Each paper is an individual assessment, which gets graded separately.

Alrighty. Now you know how our schooling works, it is time to have a rant about how stupid exams are.


Especially the way that my school does mock exams. They force us to do up to five exams in the space of three days, without giving us any study leave.


Except I did pretty well last year. But that’s beside the point.

When you think about it, though, the concept of exams is really quite bad. They’re kind of just like, “Hey. Let’s force these poor, stressed students to tell us everything they know about all of the things they have learnt this year.”

In fact, let’s pretend that my exams could talk, and had a meeting with each other to decide how to best torture me.

Maths: “So, guys, what’s the plan this year?”
Music: “Oh oh oh I know! Let’s force her to learn all of these Italian and German and French terms, and then only ask her one question about them!”
Chemistry: “That’s a great idea! I think I’ll do the same thing, and force her to learn all about the different reactions and stuff, but barely even mention them. Or I could just mention ones that she’s never heard of?”
Maths: “Brilliant! I’m going to throw in some questions that she’ll have no idea how to answer, because they are so ridiculously complicated!”
English: “We’re on a roll! How about I increase the requirements for passing by heaps, and then ensure she doesn’t get taught how to pass!”
Māori: “I think I have the greatest idea. I’m going to give her some passages to read with words that are so specific to the topic that she never will have heard them before. Then I’ll get her to write an essay, in Māori, of course, about subjects that she has never studied, so she will have no idea what to write.”
All: *cackle*

That’s a pretty accurate representation of how my mock exams went this year.

Why does the school system think that exams are a good idea? What does it prove? That we can vaguely remember things that we were taught six months ago? That we have no idea how to study properly? That Google really is lifesaving?

In the real world, there is Google. You can ask questions. And there is an extremely high chance that I am never going to need to know about alkanes and alkenes, or the difference between a homophonic and monophonic piece of music, since I’m most likely going to be a preschool teacher. That stuff generally isn’t taught at that age. And I certainly won’t ever need to know off the top of my head, unless it comes up as a question on Trivia Crack.

So. Exams. Could you please get your act together? Since you have to exist, couldn’t you at least be about stuff we actually learn, and not some random gobbledygook? I’d much appreciate it. Or you could just shrivel up and die. Actually, I’d prefer that option.

Urgh. You know what the worst part about this is?

I have to do them again in November.

Tessa Ann


2 thoughts on “Exams & Why They Suck | Motley Monday

  1. *groans* I feel your pain. This was my life through high school, especially with the math tests. Like, I get that you want to test my knowledge, people, but maybe don’t throw in a monkey wrench on the ACTUAL STINKING TEST THAT IS BEING GRADED, GRRR. And honestly, it’s like trying to force everyone into the same mold. Not all students test well, even if they know their material. I could always discuss my subjects, and I enjoyed learning and stuff, but the tests just threw me off. The questions felt vague or poorly worded. The tests never focused on the practical knowledge that I expected to be something I would have to know. I feel like the people who write the curriculums and the accompanying exams should get their acts together and figure out a more practical way to gauge how well students have absorbed the material.

    Sorry you don’t feel you did so well on your mocks. Hopefully your actual exams will go much more smoothly! 🙂 I’ll be praying.


    • I actually normally test quite well, just not when it’s five tests in three days. Because that sucks. And I completely agree with you. It just doesn’t seem right, the way that they do it. Someone needs to fix it. Like make it so that our grades don’t rely so heavily on exams or something.

      As far as I’m aware, so far, I’ve only failed three out of my eleven papers, which isn’t as bad as I thought I did (although I barely scrapped by with most of the others). Hopefully I’ll do better in the real ones. And thank you 🙂


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