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In Egypt, students feel the stress of too many exams

Students wait to take exams at Winchester British International School. (Jana Salama/YJI)

6th of October City, EGYPT – End of the year exams are one of the most demanding experiences a student can go through. 

This year, students from across Egypt anxiously awaited what they called “combo day,” when they had to take multiple tests.

That’s because students taking subjects from different exam boards have found themselves with more than one exam scheduled at the same time.

After finishing one test, these students with overlapping exams were escorted directly to the next one, some without any kind of break.

Some took as many as a whopping four exams in a row that day.

Going to my school, Winchester British International School, at 9 a.m. that day was an unnerving experience.

I felt an unmistakable tension in the air as I passed by other students.

Revision notes remained scattered, and people chattered nervously, trying to comfort each other about what the day would bring.

Tala Sami, 16, who is in her 11th year at Winchester, was getting ready to start one of her four exams. Once she entered the exam room, she said, she would not be allowed to leave until she had completed all her exams.

“It was so difficult to prepare for all these exams at once,” said Sami. “I feel terrible because I feel like we don’t have enough (time) to prepare and to relax between exams.”

For many years, exam boards such as Cambridge Assessment International Education, Pearson Edexcel, and OxfordAQA, have maintained a good exam schedule.

Despite students choosing subjects from different exam boards, people usually still did not go through more than two exams per day. 

What made exam days easier for many students was the break period between each exam day that ranged from a few days to a week. Some people might even have a month between tests.

This year was different.

“I don’t have time to review my subjects. I need the grades, but it’s difficult to study,” said Mahmoud Sayed, 17. “Last year, I would have a week to prepare between each exam, even then, my grades that year weren’t pleasing to look at.”

When I asked about how he felt, Sayed, who is a 12th year student, told me about his worries.

“I kind of feel nervous – just imagining yourself messing up scares me,” he said. “No one knows if the exams will be easy or not.” 

In the midst of all the anxiety, Sohaila Radwan, 17, an 11th year student, gave me some insight on what helped her unwind. 

“It’s stressful, but praying, reading the Quran or walking my dog kept me sane.”

Jana Salama is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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