Could schools in Norway scrap exams for good?

Exams in schools could face the axe after the Norwegian Directorate of Education said it wanted to look at several alternatives to the current system. 

A pupil taking an exam, which could be scrapped in Norway.
The Norwegian Directorate of Education has said that it will assess whether exams are a necessary part of the curriculum. Pictured is a pupil doing school work. Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Exams could become a thing of the past for Norwegian pupils after the country’s education directorate said that it would assess the current system and explore the possibility of alternatives. 

“In the slightly longer term, the directorate will also try out alternatives to the current exam system,” Per Kristian Larsen-Evjen, department director for upper secondary education, told newspaper Aftenposten

The directorate will also be undergoing research on how exams work. For the third year in a row, exams in Norway for 10th graders and students graduating high school were cancelled due to the pandemic. 

Experts are split on whether exams being cut from the curriculum would be a good thing, though. 

Professor and assessment researcher Tony Burner from the University of Southeast Norway believes that the pandemic opened people’s eyes to the possibility of a schools system without exams. 

READ ALSO: Norway among countries with lowest proportion of women in vocational studies

“Many teachers say they got more time for teaching and mid-term assessment after exams were cancelled. And many students have experienced less stress,” Burner told Aftenposten

However, the Norwegian Teachers’ Association is more sceptical about the prospect of an exam-free curriculum. 

The association’s leader, Helle Christin Nyhus, said that exams are an essential part of a comprehensive assessment system. However, Nyhus did add that the association would be involved in discussions on how exams can be adapted to be more fit for purpose. 

One student told Aftenposten that exams place too much importance on a single day and don’t allow pupils to demonstrate the breadth of what they have learnt. 

“I think exams are a bad assessment. If you have a bad day on the exam day, it can negatively affect your diploma and future plans. Besides, we do not get to show the breadth of what we have learned in a single exam,” Tuva Louise Enger told the paper. 

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Norway cancels spring exams

All written and oral exams for junior and upper secondary school students in Norway have been cancelled this spring, Education Minister Tonje Brenna announced Friday.

Norway cancels spring exams

Norwegian education authorities have decided to axe the spring exams for the third year running due to Covid-19. The announcement was made at a press conference on Friday by Education Minister Tonje Brenna.

“This is not an easy decision. I think exams are an important part of the final assessment, and we will have exams in Norwegian schools in the future,” Brenna said.

Brenna also explained that the decision to cancel exams was the fairest for all students because schools in different areas have been subject to varying Covid restrictions for much of the school year, meaning that students across the country will have faced differing levels of disruption to their education.

The decision to cancel exams follows a recommendation from the Directorate of Education to do so.

Private, and vocational exams will go ahead as usual, as they did last year.

According to the education directorate’s recommendations, higher education admissions will work as normal, meaning students will be admitted on their final subject grades.

READ MORE: What you need to know about studying in Norway