PUPILS, parents and teachers across the country are today seething at their Government.

The hastily-cobbled together calculations for working out what grades pupils might possibly have got in their A-Levels has left many feeling let down.

But the story also reignites the much bigger and age-old debate about standardised testing.

When school pupils do sit exams, they are still having their intelligence and learning tested by a set of measures which are, by necessity, to some extent arbitrary.

Throw in the fact that papers have to be assessed by humans, all with their own individual interpretations of the marking guidelines, and you have a system which is extremely limited at best.

To put it simply, exams favour those who are good at exams – that is precisely why students now take ‘mock exams’ and spend a significant part of their school year preparing specifically to sit an exam, rather than learning about the subject matter.

Exam-taking itself ends up becoming a subject, alongside English and maths.

Of course, being able to get through tests is a useful life skill in itself: life is full of tests – a job interview, a citizenship test, applying for a mortgage – but it's not the same as being skilled at maths, being able to understand a work of literature or being able to dissect a frog.

By focussing school around passing exams, we prepare children for a life of jumping through hoops.

None of this is to say, of course, that those children who scored well yesterday have nothing to be proud of: they have not only achieved a mastery of their subjects, they have also been able to prove it in various exams over the past few years.

However for those who did not get the results they had been hoping for, it is worth remembering that good grades are not an automatic ticket to success.

If you worked hard at school and are disappointed in your results, don't worry: you still have plenty of opportunities to work hard ahead of you, so seize them.