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Do CAIE grades define student potential accurately?

Do CAIE grades define student potential accurately?


Right now, hundreds and thousands of CAIE O and A Level students are waiting with baited breath for their “exam” results due to come out tomorrow 11th August. 

One of the, if not the, most tense moments in a student’s life are the gut-wrenching days, hours, minutes and eventually seconds before they clasp eyes on their result – whether it be emailed to them or given in a hard copy. To them, this result is a certificate not just of their effort, but of their worth to themselves and to society. 

This has always been wrong and untrue. The educational system of Cambridge is incredibly flawed and in many cases, although less than its local counterparts, is dependent on rote-learning. The system, in subjects like History, Economics and Sociology, favors students who are skilled in English. Many students in Pakistan face an unnecessary hurdle due to this. 

More importantly, a transcript of words can never define the worth of a young human being. Countless studies are carried out everyday to assess what makes humans “human” and what makes them special and individual. No one page can determine the worth of the magnificence that is a human being.

While, yes, grades do play a role in one’s future, it is hardly the only, or even the most important factor in shaping one’s destiny. There are countless instances of individuals getting poor grades, and turning their situation around by either studying harder next time, or focusing on other, practical skills they possess to make it in the real world. 

The idea that CAIE grades define one’s worth has never been more untrue than it as been this year especially.

Cambridge Examination used a different system than usual to calculate grades this year, owing to the cancellation of exams because of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than having an examination session, CAIE instead used data available to “predict” the grades students would have gotten had they given the exams. The data used in this involves the performance of students throughout the year in term and mock examinations, their previous examination results and the performance of their center over the past few years. If students were uncomfortable with this system, they could opt for giving exams in the October/November session. 

A CAIE certificate can never be a true measure of one’s ability, but especially not this year with this system. While one can sympathize with CAIE – they had little choice and had to make a difficult decision – there can be no doubt that this system shortchanges a lot of students. Many students outperform their performance throughout the year in the final exams by taking them significantly more seriously. While the extent to which Cambridge took this into consideration is yet to be revealed, it is likely that a number of students will get grades lower than they would have gotten otherwise. 

This should be enough to convince students that whatever happens this year does not define them and is not a true measure of their ability. They were short-changed as a result of circumstances entirely out of their control. 

To everyone getting their results tomorrow – Good luck but remember: No matter what happens, the sun will rise again, the birds will sing again, your life will continue and, if you managed to survive 2020 so far, you can and will definitely get through this. 

Also read: Gap year or online classes: The unfair dilemma faced by the Class of 2020

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