I feel sorry for my son and his friends, who will receive their A- level results on Thursday.
They'll be damned if they do well and damned if they don't.
The Sunday newspaper headlines yesterday reflected a sniping, sneering summer tradition in Britain.
It is now virtually impossible to fail an A-level, apparently. The country's "gold standard" examination system is discredited. A-level questions are far easier today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, as any pub bore will tell you.
Because so many students are coming out with top grades, A-levels must be getting easier and easier it is claimed, generally by people who last sat an exam in the mists of time if at all.
But is this really the case? And if it really is that easy to obtain an A-level, why do fewer than half of 16-year-olds go on to do so?
I have no idea whether the history, geography, politics and economics A-level exams I took in 1974 would be any easier were I sitting them as an 18-year-old today. What I am certain of, however, is that the class of 2005 will have found it much easier to obtain good results than those of us who toiled away in antiquated classrooms more than a quarter of a century ago.
There are several reasons for this, most of which we ought to see as positives.
Teaching is, on the whole, far more professional than was the case in the 1970s.
Ofsted and league tables may be detested by the teaching unions but the impact has been to take a large stick to many schools which, in the past, would simply have been permitted to fail and fail and fail.
The AS-level system enables students to submit course work and, crucially, to drop weaker subjects at the end of the lower-sixth, making it far more likely that they will perform well in the exams that remain.
The biggest change of all, with implications that are still not fully understood, has been the rise of the internet. Today's students can draw down and print endless information at the press of a button, thereby saving themselves hours in obtaining and reading reference books.
Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen, and there is certainly worrying evidence of plagiarism, but the role of technology in making it easier to perform well at A-level cannot be underestimated.
The real driving force behind the estimate that 97 per cent of those who took A-levels this year will get a pass of some sort, however, must surely be the huge range of subjects available. The so-called soft-touch options such as film and media studies, and even business studies, must appear infinitely preferable to most people than, say, maths or physics.
There may be a case for refining the system to make it more difficult to obtain an A grade, or to have two or three divisions of A grade, in order to give employers and universities greater ability to sift the brilliant from the merely very good.
But as Thursday draws nearer let us confront the doom-mongers by celebrating the fact that more students are taking A-levels and that grades are improving.
My message to my son and his mates is simply this: thanks for trying your best, thanks for studying rather than hanging around on street corners and drifting into dead-end jobs, hold your heads up high - and good luck.