According to research conducted by the University of East Anglia, students who achieved top grades in A-levels have already forgotten three-fifths of their A-levels after a year.

To test their ability to remember key knowledge from two years of A-levels, 594 bioscience students from five universities took a biology test in their first week of term. The test consists of a series of multiple choice questions that were drawn from past AS and A-level papers.

Alberto G, Wikimedia
Alberto G, Wikimedia

Although most participants had scored an A in their original A-level biology exams, only 40% of the questions were answered correctly the second time round. It was also reported that the longer the student had spent between their examination and university, the more answers they had forgotten.

Lead researcher Harriet Jones said: ”Universities expect their students to arrive with a high level of knowledge. What our research shows is that students are arriving at university with fantastic A-level grades, but having forgotten much of what they actually learned for their exams”.

Jones believed that this was undoubtedly a consequence of secondary schools’ policy of making students ‘cram’ information. The immediate results of this way of teaching include better grades and performances in league tables. However, in the long term, Jones argued that the inability to retain lasting knowledge is a much more serious consequence.