The big news this week was that students find exams stressful.

Teenagers took the Maths Common Assessment Task (MCat) exam, set by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), last week, with many claiming it was too hard.

Consequently, we're told, there were tears and tantrums.

Since the alarming news, a few experts have laid blame at the feet of teachers for failing to properly prepare their students for the exam.


On the flipside, principals, teachers and school bodies have questioned NZQA and complained about the level of difficulty.

An NZQA spokeswoman yesterday said the authority's stance on the exam had not changed, and it would not be offering a re-sit option for students.

Now, there may be some merit (excuse the pun) in all this, and excuse me for being insensitive to the plight of Generation Me, but where's the resilience?

Any secondary school contemporary of mine can attest maths wasn't my forte. It was the one exam I failed (quite miserably) at that age. But there were others that many of us found extremely difficult.

How can I forget a biology exam in the late 80s that asked genetics questions of a standard much higher than any of us, including our teacher at the time, anticipated.

Yet to the best of my memory, none of us wept - because none of us considered we'd been wronged.

There were, and always will be, the odd aberration in exams. But let's not forget they're tests; there to assess not only memory, but mettle.

The outcry underscores, again, the waning durability of our highly intelligent youth.