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The BBC's Mike Baker
"Some students found themselves taking nine hours of exams in one day"
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The BBC's Kim Catcheside
"It's likely ministers will agree to lighten the load"
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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
AS-level exams to be changed
school corridor
Schools had trouble finding enough space for testing
The review of the new AS-level exams is expected to result in students being asked to take fewer - but longer - exams.

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, ordered an urgent review of the changes introduced this year following widespread complaints of "exam overload".

The review, carried out by the head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), has just been delivered to her.

Any action taken on it has to be cleared with the prime minister's office but is likely to involve cutting the exam burden while upholding the principle of broadening the post-16 curriculum.

This might involve, for example, students sitting a single three-hour paper rather than three one-hour ones.

Timetable problems

One of the biggest complaints from schools and colleges was that the sheer volume of exams this summer meant there was considerable pressure on available rooms, and numerous timetabling clashes.

According to a report in The Times, the review has recommended that the exams which would have been sat next January should be scrapped.

A spokesman at the QCA would say only that there were "many inaccuracies" in the report.

Official announcements are due to be made on Wednesday.

The general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, Nigel de Gruchy, said a reduction in the number of exams would be "a step in the right direction" because the system had become "chronically overloaded".


He said there was "a huge assessment industry which has grown out of control".

"Teachers are, frankly, beleaguered," he said.

Many students have also been feeling snowed under with the additional workload of taking AS-levels and the new Key Skills exams - also part of the review - at 17 then A-levels at 18.

Having fewer but longer exams would not necessarily do anything to alleviate this.

The changes were introduced as "Curriculum 2000" in an attempt to delay the time when students specialise.

The idea was that they should study four or five subjects at AS-level - most have done four - as a halfway house then concentrate on, typically, three as full A-levels.

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12 Jun 01 | Education
A-level reforms to be reviewed
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