Do examinations prepare students for higher education? A lesson from the Covid-19 lockdown

Harriet L. Jones, Valentina Zini, Jon R. Green, John R. Prendergast, Jon Scott

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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The COVID-19 pandemic caused severe disruption to education in the UK in 2020, with most of the school teaching moving online and national school examinations being cancelled. This was particularly disruptive for those taking end of school examinations in preparation for higher education. Biological science courses require students to absorb a lot of new vocabulary and concepts, with examinations traditionally focusing on content recall rather than reasoning. Students who had entered university in September 2019 were compared with those arriving in September 2020 with respect to their knowledge of bioscience vocabulary and understanding of key concepts. Results showed no significant difference between those who had gone through the examination process in 2019 relative to those who had not, in 2020. This suggests the cramming of information for examinations has no detectable effect on the knowledge and understanding of biology that students take with them to university.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-714
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Education
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Pre-University
  • covid
  • examinations
  • preparedness
  • transition
  • vocabulary

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