KARACHI: As the clock ticks closer to ‘judgment day’, students who took the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) O’ and A’ level exams in the last season are experiencing a nail-biting frenzy as they await the white slips of paper that will most likely decide the course of their futures.
Most are occupied on their prayer mats – seeking divine intervention to accord them higher grades – while others reminisce what they might have done wrong (or right). Rumana Mehdi, an A’ level student at The Lyceum School, has been having nightmares of C’s and D’s lately.
“I had a dream that I recieved a zero for a question that I knew I had answered correctly,” she chuckled. “When you step out of the examination hall, you feel that everything went well. But as the result date draws nearer, all you can remember are the mistakes you made in the exams.” Mehdi hoped, nevertheless, that her dreams and not her nightmares will be realised today. Moiz Ali Khozema, another A’ level student at The City School’s PAF chapter, told The Express Tribune that even thinking about the result day gave him goose bumps. “My nights are sleepless and days are restless since the CIE is very unpredictable and even atrocious at times,” he said. “It always leaves a great number of candidates astonished.”
By Monday evening, #CIE started trending on Twitter locally with students expressing their anxiety and nervousness. “I’m having elephants trampling around in my stomach and we still have 20 hours to go,” said Natalie, tweeting with the handle, @Sanguine41.
Meanwhile, students of the Karachi Grammar School and the Sargodhian Spirit Trust Public School, a boarding school in Tando Allahyar that performed exceptionally well in last year’s exams by beating most of the well-known schools in Karachi, expressed confidence of performing the same feat again.
Over the years, the admissions process after A’ levels has become quite competitive as most of the universities and institutes for higher education attempt to grab the ‘cream’ of the students.
The same is the case with the O’ level students who, until five years ago, had to apply to A’ level institutions once they got their hands on the results. The institutions now ask these students to apply in advance.
While it is imperative for O’ level students to get a certain number of ‘As’ to be able to apply for A’ level studies at the more reputed schools, the real nail-biters will be for students who have to meet conditional offers from their universities. “If I don’t make the expected grades, my conditional admission offer to Szabist’s business studies programme may be cancelled,” feared Khozema.
Meanwhile, CIE Chief Executive Michael O’Sullivan, in his statement issued to The Express Tribune, said that the examination board felt honoured to be entrusted with such an important role in the education of the young people of Pakistan and would continue to support the affiliated schools in providing world class education.
The CIE, at present, provides assessments and other educational support to more than 520 schools across the country, he said. “This year, schools in Pakistan made over 200,000 examination entries for the Cambridge international qualifications – an increase of six per cent since 2012.”
O’Sullivan, on behalf of Cambridge, also expressed gratitude to the students, teachers and their families for their support in making the second sitting of the Cambridge O’ level and IGCSE Pakistan Studies and Islamiyat examinations a success.
“While it remains a source of great regret to us that this course of action was necessary, we are delighted to see that almost all of the 15,000 candidates who entered for the examination originally were able to participate in the second sitting,” he said, adding that a small number of students had chosen to take the examinations in November 2013 instead, and will be able to do so without any additional charge.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2013.