AS a 14-year-old student, I found Mike Bentley's views on the examination system appalling (Saturday Sound-off, July 10).

The possibility that "an A-level is worth as much as a cycling proficiency test" is outrageous and incomprehensible, because you cannot get into university on a cycling proficiency test.

Saying that "anyone with half a brain can look forward to the routine four passes at A*" disgusts me because I have seen how capable students, who put in great effort, were awarded much lower marks than Mr Bentley says are simply handed out.

The irresponsible article undermines hardworking students and gives readers false impressions of youth. His proposal that "a little learning is a dangerous thing" is ludicrous. Is he suggesting limiting education for adolescents?

A proper education is a gift not granted to everyone. How are children supposed to aim high and achieve their goals? Saying 'we are quickly reaching the point where our higher education system will be swamped by a tide of mediocrity' disheartens students.

How are we supposed to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement when our superiors deem these successes worthless? His article is patronising and does not portray students as they should be: high achievers who deserve praise. I hope when I take my A levels, people will appreciate the effort needed to pass exams.

Helen Outhwaite,

Barlby, Selby.

Updated: 10:08 Friday, July 16, 2004