Coursework vs Exams: What’s Easier? (Pros and Cons)

In A-Level, GCSE, General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Coursework and exams are two different techniques used to assess students on certain subjects. Both of these methods can seem like a drag when trying to get a good grade, as they both take so many hours of work! However, is it true that one of these assessment techniques is easier than the other? Some students pick subjects specifically because they are only assessed via coursework or only assessed via exams, depending on what they find easiest. However, could there be a definite answer to what is the easiest?

If you want to discover whether coursework or exams are easier and the pros and cons of these methods, check out the rest of this article!

Disclaimer: This article is solely based on one student’s opinion. Every student has different perspectives on whether coursework or exams are easier. Therefore, the views expressed in this article may not align with your own.

Coursework vs exams: what’s easier?

The truth is that whether you find coursework or exams easier depends on you and how you like to work. Different students learn best in different ways and as a result, will have differing views on these two assessment methods.

Coursework requires students to complete assignments and essays throughout the year which are carefully graded and moderated. This work makes up a student’s coursework and contributes to their final grade.

In comparison, exams often only take place at the end of the year. Therefore, students are only assessed at one point in the year instead of throughout. All of a student’s work then leads up to them answering a number of exams which make up their grade.

There are pros and cons for both of these methods, depending on how you learn and are assessed best. Therefore, whether you find coursework or exams easier or not depends on each individual.

Is coursework easier than exams?

Some students believe that coursework is easier than exams. This is because it requires students to work on it all throughout the year, whilst having plenty of resources available to them.

As a result, there is less pressure on students at the end of the year, as they have gradually been able to work hard on their coursework, which then determines their grade. If you do coursework at GCSE or A-Level, you will generally have to complete an extended essay or project.

Some students find this easier than exams because they have lots of time to research and edit their essays, allowing the highest quality of work to be produced. You can discover more about coursework and tips for how to make it stand out if you check out this article from Oxford Royale.

However, some students actually find coursework harder because of the amount of time it takes and all of the research involved. Consequently, whether you prefer coursework or not depends on how you enjoy learning.

What are the cons of coursework?

As already hinted at, the main con of coursework is the amount of time it takes. In my experience, coursework was always such a drag because it took up so much of my time!

When you hear that you have to do a long essay, roughly 2000-3000 words, it sounds easily achievable. However, the amount of research you have to do is immense, and then editing and reviewing your work takes even more time.

Coursework should not be over and done within a week. It requires constant revisits and rephrasing, as you make it as professional sounding and high quality as possible. Teachers are also unable to give lots of help to students doing coursework. This is because it is supposed to be an independent project.

Teachers are able to give some advice, however not too much support. This can be difficult for students who are used to being given lots of help.

You also have to be very careful with what you actually write. If you plagiarise anything that you have written, your coursework could be disqualified. Therefore, it is very important that you pay attention to everything you write and make sure that you don’t copy explicitly from other websites. This can make coursework a risky assessment method.

You are allowed to use websites for research, however you must reference them correctly. This can be a difficult skill for some students to learn also!

What are the pros of coursework?

Some of the cons of coursework already discussed can actually be seen as pros by some students! Due to coursework being completed throughout the year, this places less pressure on students, as they don’t have to worry about final exams completely determining their grade.

Some subjects require students to sit exams and complete some coursework. However, if a student already knows that they have completed some high-quality coursework when it comes to exam season, they are less likely to place pressure on themselves. They know that their coursework could save their grade even if they don’t do very well on the exam.

A lot of coursework also requires students to decide what they want to research or investigate. This allows students to be more creative, as they decide what to research, depending on the subject. This can make school more enjoyable and also give them more ideas about what they want to do in the future.

If you are about to sit your GCSEs and are thinking that coursework is the way to go, check out this article from Think Student to discover which GCSE subjects require students to complete coursework.

What are the cons of exams?

Personally, I hated exams! Most students share this opinion. After all, so much pressure is put on students to complete a set of exams at the end of the school year. Therefore, the main con of sitting exams is the amount of pressure that students are put under.

Unlike coursework, students are unable to go back and revisit the answers to their exams over many weeks. Instead, after those 2 (ish) hours are up, you have to leave the exam hall and that’s it! Your grade will be determined from your exams.

This can be seen as not the best method, as it doesn’t take student’s performances throughout the rest of the year into account. Consequently, if a student is just having a bad day and messes up one of their exams, nothing can be done about it!

If you are struggling with exam stress at the moment, check out this article from Think Student to discover ways of dealing with it.

Exams also require an immense amount of revision which takes up time and can be difficult for students to complete. If you want to discover some revision tips, check out this article from Think Student.

What are the pros of exams?

Exams can be considered easier however because they are over with quickly. Unlike coursework, all students have to do is stay in an exam hall for a couple of hours and it’s done! If you want to discover how long GCSE exams generally last, check out this article from Think Student.

Alternatively, you can find out how long A-Level exams are in this article from Think Student. There is no need to work on one exam paper for weeks – apart from revising of course!

Revising for exams does take a while, however revising can also be beneficial because it increases a student’s knowledge. Going over information again and again means that the student is more likely to remember it and use it in real life. This differs greatly from coursework.

Finally, the main advantage of exams is that it is much harder to cheat in any way. Firstly, this includes outright cheating – there have been issues in the past with students getting other people to write their coursework essays.

However, it also includes the help you get. Some students may have an unfair advantage if their teachers offer more help and guidance with coursework than at other schools. In an exam, it is purely the student’s work.

While this doesn’t necessarily make exams easier than coursework, it does make them fairer, and is the reason why very few GCSEs now include coursework.

If you want to discover more pros and cons of exams, check out this article from AplusTopper.

What type of student is coursework and exams suited to?

You have probably already gathered from this article whether exams or coursework are easier. This is because it all depends on you. Hopefully, the pros and cons outlined have helped you to decide whether exams or coursework is the best assessment method for you.

If you work well under pressure and prefer getting assessed all at once instead of gradually throughout the year, then exams will probably be easier for you. This is also true if you are the kind of person that leaves schoolwork till the last minute! Coursework will definitely be seen as difficult for you if you are known for doing this!

However, if, like me, you buckle under pressure and prefer having lots of time to research and write a perfect essay, then you may find coursework easier. Despite this, most GCSE subjects are assessed via exams. Therefore, you won’t be able to escape all exams!

As a result, it can be useful to find strategies that will help you work through them. This article from Think Student details a range of skills and techniques which could be useful to use when you are in an exam situation.

Exams and coursework are both difficult in their own ways – after all, they are used to thoroughly assess you! Depending on how you work best, it is your decision to decide whether one is easier than the other and which assessment method this is.

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