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Twitter 'magnifying' GCSE stress, say exam boards

Awarding bodies say they have teams working "round the clock" to allay pupils' exam fears

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Awarding bodies say they have teams working "round the clock" to allay pupils' exam fears

An increasing trend of teenagers taking to Twitter to voice often unfounded worries about their exams is "magnifying" pupil anxiety, awarding bodies have said.

Exam boards say they have teams monitoring social media "round the clock" to reassure students who are panicking about their GCSE results.

Speaking to journalists this morning on behalf of the Joint Council for Qualifications – which represents the exam sector – Alex Scharaschkin from AQA said: “We recognise that exams are stressful and results days are stressful – for young people and also for teachers and for parents.

"I do think we have responsibilities as awarding bodies to recognise and to do what we can to help."

He went on: "One area where we’ve seen increases in volumes of enquiries and so on is on Twitter.

"Certainly Twitter has really taken off over the last couple of years around exam time.

"Students, if they have an anxiety, they raise it on Twitter and that can actually get magnified very quickly because of retweeting and so on."

Mr Scharaschkin said boards had "teams who work around the clock and on the weekends monitoring what’s going on".

He said it was often possible to "allay" fears "by just putting information out there".

"Sometimes a student will say ‘I wrote with the wrong coloured pen, will my answers still be marked?’ Of course they will. Just getting that out can calm things down."

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, agreed that anxiety had been exacerbated by the rise of social media.

“It creates an echo chamber doesn’t it, where you don’t just have what results might be, but you have speculation about results, grade boundaries and all that kind of thing," he told Tes.

However, he said that the government's reforms to GCSEs had made them "inherently more stressful". 

He said increases in subject content, the move to terminal examination and the focus on memorisation in subjects like English had all combined to make GCSEs a more stressful experience.

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