School Allows Students to “Borrow” Points for Exams

March 17, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. alleviate / əˈli viˌeɪt / (v.) – to reduce or lessen
Example: Taking a nap quickly alleviated her headache.

2. take its toll / teɪk ɪts toʊl / (idiom) – to cause big problems
Example: His mother is afraid that too much studying will take its toll on him.

3. prerequisite / prɪˈrɛk wə zɪt / (n.) – something needed before doing or getting something
Example: Submitting the registration form is a prerequisite to attending the seminar.

4. guarantor / ˈgær ənˌtɔr / (n.) – someone who promises support for someone else
Example: Since the bank does not accept individual applications, he asked his mother to be his guarantor.

5. setback / ˈsɛtˌbæk / (n.) – a decrease in progress
Example: Failing the national exam was a big setback for her.


Read the text below.
A school in China has introduced a new initiative which allows students to borrow points to pass exams.

The initiative, called a “grades bank,” was created by China’s Nanjing Number One High School to alleviate exam stress. According to the school, a passing score and a failing score may be separated by only a few points. Through this initiative, a student who failed an exam may get a passing score by borrowing points from other school work.

According to a teacher from the school, the difference between a passing score and a failing score may greatly impact students’ physical and mental health. The pass-or-fail culture has been reported to take its toll on students, sometimes pushing them to give up or cheat. The school’s director hopes to address this issue through the grades bank. In contrast with traditional testing, she says that examinations should enhance students’ learning and not cause difficulty among students.

The project comes with certain prerequisites. A student may borrow only a certain number of points, and needs a fellow student to be his or her guarantor. Borrowed points can then be paid back by getting high scores in the succeeding tests or doing extra school work.

However, if the student fails to pay back the borrowed points by the end of the semester, the guarantor can step in to clear his or her classmate’s record. Otherwise, the student will be banned from borrowing in the future.

People expressed different opinions about the project, saying that the grades bank also has its setbacks. One education expert says that it is not advisable to use a grades bank because students will become lazy. Others emphasized that in real life, opportunities only happen once. Students at the school, however, have claimed that the grades bank is proving to be a huge help.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the grades bank is a good idea? Why or why not?
·         If you were a guarantor, how would you help your classmate pay back borrowed points?

Discussion B

·         What are the factors that cause stress for students in your country?
·         What are the ways to reduce school-induced stress?

March 17, 2017