Opinion: Do Exam Results Actually Matter?

Craig Considine, CEO, Tanglin Trust School, answers the recurring question – how important are exam results?
Opinion: Do Exam Results Actually Matter?
By Carli Allan
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It's a recurring question – do exam results truly matter? Are they the best measure of success? As students collect their A Level results this week, Craig Considine, CEO at Tanglin Trust School, shares his perspective on exam results and their significance.

One of Singapore's most influential leaders in education, Mr Considine stepped into the role of CEO at Tanglin Trust in August 2018, taking on the challenge of steering Singapore’s oldest British international school into the future. 

Yes, exam results are important and Tanglin is right to be proud of its outstanding academic achievements in the IB, GCSEs and A Levels. But, says Mr Considine, an holistic education that develops various life-skills beyond grades is also essential for long-term success.

Results can "open or close doors", says Tanglin's CEO Craig Considine, but they are not the only determinant of success.

“Examinations have just been completed and students and parents await their fate. But are numbers/grades on the transcript the key determinant of success? 
“There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that short term academic success does not predict one’s future success. The habits of mind developed through one’s education are, in many ways, a better predictor of long-term success compared to what grades one achieves at the end of secondary school.  

Exam results are, however, the currency that allows individuals to move to a subsequent phase of their formalised learning. Results provide portability and open or close doors. Exam results emanate from collective endeavour to understand exam specifications and retain knowledge and skills that allow success. This collective endeavour represents the work of the student, but also the support of teachers, parents, and occasionally tutors.

“Educational systems across the globe tend to be focused on the grades one achieves, less so in America where a more holistic approach to assessing readiness for university takes place. It is the role of schools to ensure then, that each student maximises their abilities at examinations and should not close doors.  
“In addition to exam results, schools must also build a mindset and outlook that will help define a student’s future pathway. Not everyone can be at the top of their game at the point at which they leave school. There are societal, family, relationship, and aspiration-based issues that can muddy one’s motivation and approach.  

"If one can create a set of conditions whereby each individual understands themselves and the understanding that they can create the outcomes they want with a committed approach, then their education will flourish at some point.

"I have had the privilege of seeing thousands of young people graduate from schools. Many were brilliant and their future pathway was always clear. Others were brilliant and achieved well at university, but their career stagnated. Still others struggled through school, sometimes went to university, but through dogged persistence made a success of their careers and lives.  
“At Tanglin we want to prepare our young people to lead successful lives. Whether that is immediately after secondary school, or later in life, does not matter. We want to know we have supported and challenged in equal measure to ensure each of them will become a balanced and content individual who will be successful as a person, family member, and as part of their community.  

"School has some influence on character, but parents and families are key to the values and dispositions one accumulates though core moments of child and adolescent development. In schools we want to help shape that journey.”

We know that parents look at the IBDP results when choosing an IB school for their child. But IB results are one part of the all-round education that schools seek to deliver. If you want to understand the IB results in context, here's what you need to know... Click here.

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