The overall purpose of this thesis is to carry out a critical analysis of the final exam in written English in the lower secondary school according to the syllabus which was implemented in. My main objectives are to focus on the introduction of booklet at the exam, and the use of the preparation day both with regard to the teachers’ practice, but also from the pupils’ point of view. I concentrate primarily on the exam of 2006.
An important issue on my part is that by analyzing the exam and the practice among teachers, it may shed some light on the state of affairs and ensure that all pupils get the same opportunities at the exam. The final written exam in English is an important part of the teaching in the 10th grade, and the testing should reflect the teaching. My primary sources have been the research material I have collected by means of a survey, two interviews, and the experience I personally got by signing up as an examiner for the final written exam in English for 2006. In order to answer my research questions I had to find out what pupils, teachers and examiners thought about the use of booklet and the preparation day. I aimed at collecting data about the teachers’ point of view about the final exam in English in the lower secondary school. Thus I chose a quantitative approach, and the tool I used was a questionnaire.
My sources are furthermore the syllabus of 1997 and the written exams from 2000 to 2006. I have also studied and used selectively examiners’ guidelines, examiners’ reports and a number of circulars and informative letters to the teachers about the exam sent out from the Board of Education from 2000 to 2006. In order to link my thesis to theories of the teaching of reading and writing in EFL I have studied relevant literature on the subject.
One of my research questions is to what extent the examiner’s task has changed compared to previous syllabuses. Is the question of validity and reliability looked after the way it should be? In addition to the fact that working with this thesis has been very rewarding for me personally, the findings of a thesis like this might be of interest, both to my fellow teachers, the local school board and to the national school authorities. The intention of the final exam is to enable the students to show what they know and have learnt, and to obtain a result to the best of their ability.
My final conclusion is that the exam according to L97 is in harmony with the communicative and meaning oriented theory of teaching, and the pupils are given the opportunities to show their skills of EFL. After six years of using the current exam, most teachers have become familiar with the different elements of the exam. However, there are aspects of the exam which should be improved e.g. a more homogenous practice during the preparation day. As to teaching, more focus on reading strategies and genre awareness in English as a school subject throughout the lower secondary school is called for. Furthermore, teachers should be more aware of the different approaches to writing, e.g. the POW and give the pupils an opportunity to practise it from the 8th grade onwards. An under exploited possibility is the use of grammar books and memo sheets, and teachers should definitely face to this challenge and contribute to an effective use of these study facilities.
The evaluation forms changed after L97, and the view of assessment changed as well, as noted above. However, as far as I have been able to find out, many teachers feel that they have not kept up with the changes, and have far too little competence in assessment. The teachers asked in my survey and the examiners I interviewed, express that this is a neglected area, and more competence is needed.