GCSE results: physics was 2018’s most “feared” subject & exam

Maths and history came in at a very close second and third.

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English Literature (4%), English Language (4%) and Chemistry (3%) show most promise, with low levels of anxiety surrounding each subject.

Physics has been named this year’s most feared GCSE exam, with maths and history coming in at a close second and third.

That’s according to new Twitter research from social media agency Social Chain, who analysed 63,418 tweets from pupils about nine major GCSE exams between May and June.

Of that figure, Social Chain discovered that 48,836 tweets (equivalent to 77%) expressed anxiety or fear, with physics (24%) topping the list of 2018’s most troublesome subjects.

Moreover, it seems reforms to raise grades in several subjects have had little positive effect, with maths (23%) and history (20%) ranking the second and third-most dreaded exams.

Meanwhile, English Literature (4%), English Language (4%) and Chemistry (3%) show most promise, with low levels of anxiety surrounding each subject.

Commenting on this recent study, Social Chain’s head of marketing, Peter Daly, said: “GCSE exams are always a major talking point on social media and an opportunity for students to poke fun at how badly they feel an exam went through witty memes and tweets that often go viral.

Social Chain discovered that 48,836 tweets (equivalent to 77%) expressed anxiety or fear, with physics (24%) topping the list of 2018’s most troublesome subjects.

"However, what is worrying is the high percentage of tweets that show anxiety, stress and fear. Many of us will know from experience that results day is rarely make or break, but there is a worrying trend, which seems to have been exacerbated by changes to the GCSE syllabus. It’ll be interesting to see if the data sheds light on how well some subjects perform on results day.”

Among the changes put into place by former education secretary Michael Gove has been a numerical grading system, which has made it harder for students to achieve a top grade. With the bulk of college courses and employers requiring a pass in science and maths, the results of Social Chain’s analysis do not bode well for results day.

Another implication is the effect that exam stress is having on students’ mental health, following a poll of over 650 secondary school teachers by the National Education Union (NEU).

The NEU found that nearly nine-in-ten (89%) teachers believe that changes to the way GCSE exams are graded have made some students extremely anxious.

The same was true of two-thirds (66%) of respondents who said the same about the new A-levels system. This was backed up by data from Social Chain’s partners at Media Chain.

Media Chain, which owns the popular Student Problems social media community, quizzed a focus group of 160,000 students on Facebook about the top issues facing students today.

Their survey showed mental health to be the biggest issue facing university students with 4,360 votes, followed by the 2,479 votes on the pressure to do well, beating finances and tuition fees.

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