Exams: Do we need them?

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NO

Claire Hazel

I hate exams. I would much rather do twice as many essays, in fact I would probably do every essay you threw at me if it got me out of exams. I am that girl you see at the end of every exam crying and having a near nervous breakdown because I think I have failed. It’s pathetic; but I don’t know what it is. I start revising weeks before an exam and can reel off past papers in the comfort of my own room, but when I step inside the exam hall, my mind turns to mush.

Exam time is the most stressful time of year for students. Within minutes of exam timetables being announced LUVLE had crashed as everyone flocked to a computer to work out how much time they had to revise. Exams seem to cause an unnecessary amount of stress.

The first wave of stress appears when you have to work out what you need to revise and just how in-depth. With an essay things are straight forward, you pick one topic and look at that. With an exam you have the possibility of any topic that you have studied in your course. So you have the debate, should I put all my eggs in one basket and try and specialise in a specific area or go for a broad overview?

Although exams are supposed to be a test of your knowledge it feels as though they only test what you know at that exact minute in time. Weeks of revision come together at that point to see what you can remember and for those of you with great memories this may be easy. With an essay you can take time to display you collective knowledge, carefully laid out in a well thought out manner. With an exam everything in your brain at that minute drips on to the paper, in a mishmash of messy facts and even messier hand writing. They tell you to plan and to proof read, but really, who has the time?

In my eyes an exam is not a display of intelligence but how much you can remember. To those of you who like exams this may seem like a lot of pointless waffle but have some sympathy for those of us who hate them. Oh and if you see me after an exam please don’t ask which question I did. One thing I hate just as much as exams is post-exam chitchat.

YES

Luke Demetri

Whilst written examinations can seem like a chore, it seems pretty obvious to most that they are necessary when assessing a student’s ability. Originally examinations for students were tested by oral examination but, due to significant increases in the number of students, this became implausible and so written examinations came to be more frequent. The history of examinations as oral assessments can still be seen through the use of oral interrogations, at some universities, of students that are between degree classifications.

Lots of people would prefer to be assessed solely on coursework but to do this would widen the problem of cheating and plagiarising. Lecturers and tutors would be unable to know for certain whether you have had assistance from a friend or the internet. Let’s face it, it’s always tempting to get friends to help us with the things we do not understand, but the line between a little nudge and them actually bumping up your grade is a fine one. But, when you are in a written examination you are on your own. A true test of your knowledge.

It also seems that it is relatively easy to increase the standard of an essay to a pleasing level simply by spending lots of time on it. With unlimited time (presuming you don’t start it the night before) you have the opportunity to find anything out and dump it into your coursework to make it the standard you want. On the other hand, when you are sat in the exam hall and you are limited with the amount of time you have then it’s simply a matter of using your intellect to write the appropriate information regarding the question. Surely this is what universities require in an assessment.

The use of coursework to assess a student’s ability has its advantages for sure. I know it’s a relief for me when I walk into an exam knowing I already have some marks but it’s obvious that to eradicate written examinations would simply be silly and nonsensical.

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