Sunday, September 1

Ben And Eitan


This year Ben will sit his GCSEs, an exam that determines where one goes to university, more or less. The exams (along with the A-levels) are, for American ex pat parents, well, foreign. And intimidating.

Preparation for the GCSEs begins in year nine (age 14) when students choose their subject preferences from a compulsory 'core'+several electives - in all, maybe 11 tests over several weeks.  There is strategy: students who excel in maths, for instance, may take the maths exam in year ten then the rest in year 11.

University placements are extended based on GCSE results, an offer conditional on the 'A-levels', a further, final, exam taken at the end of secondary school (the two year preparation period called 'sixth form'). School grades, sport and extra curricular activities have no influence on the application.

Despite life's pressures, the kids find a park, with a swing, and have a ball.