5 things they didn’t tell you about…..exams

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by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

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If you’re reading, this you likely have exams in your life and they may well be looming. I’m not talking about a class quiz or even a year-end school test, I’m talking real exams – public examinations – the kind that can help determine the direction your entire life can take. The kind you only do when you’re old enough – to round off secondary school, college or university. So here’s five things to help you approach them…..

  1. The opening paragraph you just read is way over the top and sounds like your mum/dad/school principal/any other concerned person in your life. Exams do not determine the outcome of your life. They give you options for sure. You’re not going to go to Oxford with two grade D A-levels or 28 points at IB. Equally, you could go to Oxford without perfect grades. They are just one of many elements of the admissions process.
  2. Who wants to go to Oxford anyway? There is no such thing as the “best” school/college/university. The “best” course is the one that suits you best – your talents, your likes and so on. Be brave enough to aim for what you want not what someone else wants for you.
  3. An exam is only an audit. It will test you on a small slice of the course. if the exam covers 10% of the course and you get 9/10 then they assume you know 90% of the course. Potentially this means you could score top marks only having learned 10% of the course. This is high risk strategy but the principle is sound.
  4. So if you don’t need to know the whole course, don’t learn the whole course. Work out from the exam structure how much you must know to have a good shot and then do really, really well at it. You may need help here. Ask an expert. And note that exams are not all about the content, they test skills as well. You could say that these skills include learning how to play the exams game.
  5. Not everyone is wired to perform well in exams. Exams are the default measure used in most education systems but they are not perfect. They do not measure intelligence, ability to do well at work, value as a human being…I could go on. If you have worked out that you do not do well in exams because they are exams; if every strategy to play the exam game has fallen short. Then move away from exams. If you’re bad at tennis you don’t try out for the tennis team. Bad at exams? Don’t do exams. There are plenty of well respected assignment/project-based qualification frameworks. BTEC is one.

So choose your place of learning, courses and type of assessment carefully. Avoid exams if that is a smart move for you. If you’re ok with them, learn how to play the game even better. Above all, don’t stress. Easier said than done, but those of us who’ve been there can say it. Most of the world did not ace their exams. And life goes on.

ITS Education Asia teachers are experts at helping students approach exams in an effective, low stress way. Whether is be one-to-one specific help or a revision class, ITS will help you perform to your potential. Support is available in our Hong Kong schools or online.

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Overcoming stigma with online study

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by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

Overcoming stigma with online study
One of the advantages of online study we have always highlighted is that is provides access for students with disabilities. But studies in the US have added to this by finding that students with disabilities are also turning to online learning to avoid stigmatisation they experience when they do attend bricks-and-mortar schools. In fact, for many this is the main reason for their choice of online.

The researchers – Susana Verdinelli of Walden University and Debbi Kutner of the University of Phoenix – writing in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education in 2015 and widely reported, including by the Times Educational Supplement, say that their findings indicate “ableism assumptions” in traditional classroom-based higher education and institutions.
Respondents to the survey, from a wide range of higher education providers across the US, made it clear they had found physical lessons “draining” and “awkward” whereas their online lessons made them “invisible” and therefore “offered the freedom to be viewed as a student without limitations”. Read more: Students with disabilities enrol online ‘to avoid stigmatisation’

The main disadvantage the students reported was that of isolation from face-to-face interaction alongside slow response times from staff. These are exactly the problems we have been highlighting since we launched our online school in 2012. The key problem is that most online courses are still actually distance learning models delivered electronically, with some having a “blended” approach which means some form of direct teacher communication at intervals across the year.

At ITS, all our online courses have a very high percentage of live, real-time lessons in a virtual classroom. Students see and hear each other as well as the teacher. At a minimum, an ITS course would have one live lesson per week. Many courses have up to four ours of live lessons per week. Students can never feel isolated, left-behind or wonder whether their queries are being answered and can therefore get the best of both worlds.

If you are a student with a disability who is struggling at a traditional school, or you know someone who is, please contact us to find out how online education the ITS way could help you achieve your educational goals.




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ITS launches BTEC HND in Business

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by Danny Harrington, M.A.(Oxford), Founder, ITS Education

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

One of the things we have always tried to do at ITS is to open opportunities by providing alternative educational pathways. From day one, one of our main aims has been to allow students to access traditional qualifications in non-traditional ways and to bring new, 21st Century learning options to all, breaking down the barriers to opportunity that rigid mainstream schools often impose.

In 2016, we are taking the next step towards this goal by introducing a fully online BTEC HND in Business. The BTEC has been around since 1984 and has become a very well established ‘alternative’ route in England and Wales. It covers a number of levels which roughly translate to student ages 14 through 22 years old and the equivalent academic benchmarks they may expect to achieve in the UK system at each. Thus a BTEC Level 3 is roughly the same as A-levels and a Level 6 is roughly a bachelor degree. BTECs can be used both to enter and progress through employment or as a way back to an academic outcome – many universities accept BTEC levels 4 and 5 as entry to years 2 and 3 of a bachelor programme respectively.

The BTEC is different because: it is assessed by ongoing project and assignment work and classroom performance, not examinations; there is generally more flexibility in the time taken to complete; the subject range is more ‘vocational’, although that term is becoming a little dated; and it provides a single system which can cover all the key levels of assessment we demand from formal education.

The BTEC HND in Business is a two year course leading to the Higher National Diploma [HND] qualification which is a Level 5 or equivalent to the second year of a degree. Hundreds of courses are then accessible either in the UK or at partner institutions globally to do a final top up year to complete a Bachelor qualification. Graduates of the HND can therefore either enter a job or a degree programme.

We have chosen the Business qualification as it provides a platform for a range of other degrees, including popular Business degrees of course, and is very useful in its own right for young people wanting to enter or progress in the modern business world. It is particularly useful for modern entrepreneurs to get a foundation in business before they take those first risks. It is also ideal for students outside the UK who wish to gain a UK qualification but cannot afford the high cost of studying there. These students also do not have any travel costs, accommodation worries or visa issues.

We achieved BTEC centre accreditation in early 2016 and the first intake will start in September 2016. The course is also a world first, being entirely online using a combination of live classes, guided learning and self study. This contributes further to the flexibility the course has to offer and keeps the cost down. The tuition fees for the first intake are approximately USD15,000 for the entire two years – about half the price of attending a traditional university.

For more information please visit our BTEC page.




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