CCSEC and CAPE exams are under way and instead of the usual pre-exam jitters, forms five and six students are exhaling sighs of relief.
The exams, originally set for May-June, had to be postponed owing to the closure of schools and the stay-at-home order to curb the spread of the covid19 virus.
Newsday asked some students how the first week of their long-awaited exams went.
Schools have been closed since March and this marked the first time in four months students were returning to roam their school halls and reconnect with friends. But before they could make it to the common areas to interact with their classmates, they had to pass mandatory checks.
One 16-year-old, whose parents requested she be anonymous, attends an all-girls’ school in Port of Spain. She said students’ temperatures were checked on entry and no one, not even visitors, was allowed on the school grounds without a mask. She said another temperature test was taken when entering the building.
Once the students were in the exam room, masks were optional and could be removed to sit the exam. As soon as the exam was over, students were asked to leave the premises, as no loitering was allowed.
Form five student Isabella Edwards said she was happy to comply with the regulations at her Port of Spain school.
“I think (the rules) are better for everyone because we can go out and do exams without the fear of contracting covid19. That fear would have made everyone more nervous,” she said. “I thought the government’s response was really good because we have no more community spread which is good. It was managed very well.”
Queen’s Royal College principal David Simon also commented on the Ministry of Health regulations.
The students,he explained, “have no choice. They must have the mask on when entering the compound.
“They have been very compliant. They understand it has to do with their safety as well.”
Simon said the QRC boys were happy to see one another more than anything else. He said they were relieved that some degree of normality has returned and that they are doing the exams for which they have been preparing for so long.
“I’m definitely relieved,” said the 16-year-old CSEC student. She was grateful for the extra time to prepare, which made her feel comfortable throughout the exams so far.
“I get to do my best now,” she said, adding her first exams on Monday and Thursday went well and gave her the confidence to tackle her upcoming exams.
Edwards said, “It feels good to be finally getting the exams out of the way and put all the hard work I’ve been doing to good use. It has been a long time coming.”
She said although she had to wait a little longer for her exams, that helped her prepare mentally.
“Before, I was feeling very nervous and scared and thought no matter how much studying I did, there was no way I was going to be mentally ready.”
She said she is much better prepared for her upcoming exams now, especially having made it through the first week.
“I was a bit nervous at first, but once I completed my first exam, I felt confident because I realised it was not as big of a deal as I made it out to be in my mind.”
For some, the road to exams wasa little longer than three months. Tunapuna Secondary student Seles Granderson is sitting CSEC exams after being hospitalised for three years. Granderson, 20, was in high spirits and said she did not mind the wait, and is only grateful for the opportunity to complete her education.
She said the wait was a bit frustrating because it was unexpected, but she made the most of it.
“It is a good thing because I wasn’t really prepared a few months ago.
“It’s just amazing to finally be finished with this. It feels a little reassuring to finally do this exam and close this chapter of our lives. We have been waiting and practising for so long and the wait is finally over.”
Exams mean the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Edwards said although she is not yet sure what lies ahead, she is not worried.
“I’ve been discussing with my mom, trying to figure it out. I’m not 100 per cent sure yet, but we’re going to figure it out together.”
On the future of covid19, she expressed concern for her family abroad, in countries like the US, but is not too concerned about TT.
“It’s not as present here, so I am a bit more relaxed (especially) for my exams.”
She said if she moves on to form six, she is not concerned about the shift system being proposed by the Education Ministry to allow for physical distancing. The planned “blended learning” system will rotate students between in-person and online classes.
“The shift system will be a better option for everyone, it will be safer for everyone. It may be a bit harder for other students who do not have the resources, but at least with the shift system you will still have some face time, which we didn’t have before in the lockdown.”
Granderson said she is headed to university to do what she loves: theatre.
“I hope to perform in dramas and take on different roles (and) I’m excited to see how it will play out and shape my life from there.”