For those of you who are unfamiliar with the system in Western Australia, in essence, this is how it works. Year 12 is the final year of high school education, and is approximately 3 terms long, or around 30 weeks, Monday to Friday, six hours a day + after school sports etc. You do tests and assignments etc. throughout the year and you get an end of year report card. You graduate (hopefully), they give you a pat you on the back, and you spend the next few weeks studying your ass off for the Tertiary Entrance Exams- the TEE. The TEE are worth exactly 50% of your final mark. In other words, those 30 weeks of Year 12 are worth exactly the same as a three hour exam. Half your mark comes from school, the other half from TEE.
The TEE results are ranked throughout the state. Your score is compared to every other score throughout WA. Each is assigned a number, the Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER). If you have a TER of 80, you achieved better than 80% of all students who sat the exams. The highest is 99.95, because it means you’re better than 99.95% of people, leaving you as top dog- you can’t achieve 100 because you can’t be better than yourself. What university course you can get in to is dependent on your TER. For example, if you want to do Psychology at the University of WA, you’ll need a TER of 81 or higher, and must have gotten a C in English. To get into Curtin University of Technology, you need a TER of 78 (I believe) and so on.
A few days ago, the results were sent out to every student in the state. Although I’d been waiting for weeks, desperate to know how well I did in human biology, terrified to know how badly I did in maths, when the results were released online, I found I did not want to check them. It was like there was a large stone caught at the back of my neck that made it difficult to swallow. What was wrong with me? What was there to be afraid of? So, urged by my peers and family, I forced myself to check. This is what I got.
CURTIN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
Minimum TER required is
Competence in English: Not
Your 4/5 subject Tertiary Entrance Rank is 82.75
Subjects used in this TER are (2007)HBIOL (2007)ECONS
To be eligible for consideration for admission to courses at Curtin
University of Technology you must satisfy the University’s competence in English
requirement. Successful completion of the STAT Written English will satisfy this
requirement. You are invited to sit this test. For details on how to enrol click here.
82.75. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. I became bitter about it for a number of hours- everyone I asked from Trinity had scored in the 90’s. Liam pulled off an incredibly 98.6- I tip my metaphorical hat of +5 Respect to him. Anyway, it wasn’t a bad mark by any means, but it wasn’t a great score either. I look back on the year and I think of all the things I could have done
differently. Why hadn’t Mrs Hird told me that "It’s better to be an A
Discrete student than a C Applicable student" at the start of the year,
rather than most of the way through? I wish I had taken English instead
of Lit- English is more applicable, with film studies and advertisement
analysis and the likes. It’s not just reading six really complex, boring
books and writing about how enlightening they are. I wish I had
remembered that performance was 50% of the final mark in music- how
much harder I would have practised! Just a few hours of suffering could have led to a better mark, a mark which would be a permanent notch on my record to say how well I did in high school. I really do admire Liam for suffering all those breakdowns in exchange for being able to say he achieved better than 98.6% of people in the state. Why hadn’t I done that?
Useless, of course, to wish you could change the past. What’s done is done. I was absolutely dumbfounded to see they used my Applicable mark over my English Lit. And of course, having failed the latter, I’m apparently incompetent at English. So, Curtin, UWA and Murdoch universities denied me. $140 later, I’ll be sitting the Special Tertiary Admittance Test on the 5th of January with the aim of proving I can speak English. After reading about the test, I felt weak and panicky. Although it’s probably easier than I’m expecting (as Richard pointed out, I’m going up against non-Lit students), all the official language telling me what was being tested and what mark I’d need for acceptance, what procedure I’d have to take if I became ill on the day etc… The pressure made my heart race. I’ve got a week to prepare for it, so I guess I’ll be doing the best I can.
It’s funny how that number, the TER, is so very indifferent from what you might have gone through. It’s just a statistic, just an easy way of organising human achievement, which is half made up of a few three-hour exams. It’s an absurd system. Madness. The system changes next year to give less weight to the exams and more weight to the school year, but too late for me, it seems. I think, ideally, tests and exams should be eliminated, and a mark should be calculated from assignments, and from smaller assessments in the form of ordinary classwork. The teacher just decides that he’s going to make Tuesday’s classwork the assessed one without the student’s knowledge. Because they don’t know which days are being assessed and which days are not, it encourages them to apply themselves all year round and basically eliminates cramming, forcing students to use a more practical revision strategy… But I don’t know, there’s probably a tremendous flaw in my idea which prevents it from being adopted. I’d say it’s a better idea than a three hour exam summing up half your mark, though.
So that’s my entire year, summed up in a single number. Heh. Well done Liam, and everyone else who’s happy with their mark. Good luck for whatever you choose to do next year. I’ll be seeing you, I hope.