''O-levels mark the end of compulsory education. I do not feel fully prepared to start participating in society'' - Student Member

''O-levels mark the end of compulsory education. I do not feel fully prepared to start participating in society'' - Student Member

25 Jul 2022, 12:00:00 UTC
An opinion piece by one of our student members who has just finished their O levels with their critique and suggestions for the system
classroom o levels

During May, the MATSEC website gets bombarded by students searching for their timetables and past papers (and marking schemes!). Yes, May, the month of spring and nature, means a month of isolation and study for O, I, and A level students.

I can say that from experience - I have just finished my SEC examinations. They are just the tip of the iceberg to my older peers who have taken far more demanding courses!

However, O-levels mark the end of compulsory education. Are we really prepared to face the real world? Is the formal knowledge that we garnered at school enough for us to leave formal education once and for all?
Personally, I do not feel fully prepared to start participating in society, and there are wide gaps in my knowledge of basic things that would have been covered in a more holistic curriculum.

O-levels mark the end of compulsory education.

Are O-levels that important, or will they be dust in the wind in the coming years? After cramming three years’ worth of studying into a two-hour exam, I wonder that.

Certain subjects' content overlaps with other materials’ syllabuses, wasting precious time learning the same things over and over again.
ther subjects are not up to standard. Some topics are skipped, such as World and modern Maltese history being given a backseat in Environmental Studies. Others get skimmed over - proper nutrition is barely touched upon- Home Economics is offered just till Year 8! Content is also sometimes behind the times - in Computer Science, students are still taught about floppy disks - something which I’ve never even seen let alone used - talk about outdated!

After parroting a few dates and Maltese verb structures, one sits for the exam. Most of the subject content will be forgotten within the time for the first summer swim, after finishing the seemingly never-ending exams! Oral exams start in mid-March, and if you are lucky, you will be finished with exams by the end of May. If you’re not, your summer can be delayed by another 2-3 weeks.

Certainly, there needs to be a form of assessment. Students should be given the chance to do O-levels over 2 years, as happens for I and A levels, to minimise stress.

It would be a good idea if O-levels were to take place in the students’ regular secondary school, to minimise panic about finding the proper room and the shudder of being in an unfamiliar environment.

Sitting for an exam in the morning and another for a different subject in the afternoon is tough - it is hard to get a student-friendly timetable in the current system!

Exam o levels

Viewing the paper should be available to everybody and free of charge so that students will have a better chance of acing the resit. Marking schemes should be uploaded on the website for every subject. Currently, there's a mix and match of answer sheets and papers. Some marking schemes from 2006 are on the website with their past papers nowhere to be seen, while other recent marking schemes are not even available!

Last year, a quarter of students registering for O-level exams either failed or did not show up for the exam. Something is certainly wrong with the system, and the students are getting the short end of the stick. There needs to be a holistic revamp, with emphasis on continuous assessment and less importance on the one size fits all system!

-Student Member (15) of Volt Malta