Exams - what are they good for - Part 2


| 45 Posts


26 Jun, 2014 12:56

I recently posted the loathing I had for exams and had since my school days and thought I would share this point of view as I approached two exams in May.

Well the good news is I passed both and have therefore completed year 2 of my masters and now just have to finish my dissertation for September and I hopefully graduate in December.

The interesting thing (for me anyway) is we were allowed to take in 2 sides of A4 into one exam and not the other and I got a distinction in the one where we couldn’t and a pass in the one that we could!!! Maybe I am better at exams than I thought!!!

Anyway I still hate exams but am now over the worst – onwards and upwards.


  • Anna

    | 1017 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    26 Jun, 2014 13:03

    Congratulations Jon

    I think many of us hate exams - they're such a "snapshot" and dependant on the circumstances of the day (what questions come up, how you're feeling, how your answers are interpreted by the examiner etc.) That's why I've always preferred courses which incorporate at least an element of continuous assessment.

    Good luck with the dissertation.


  • Jon

    | 45 Posts


    26 Jun, 2014 13:15

    Absolutely agree Anna about them being a snapshot and the variables that can affect you. In the two weeks gap between the exams I went to a job interview which involved a panel interview and then a full day assessment centre the day before my 2nd exam - I like to push my self!!!

    Thanks for the good luck message

  • Rosemarie

    | 594 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    26 Jun, 2014 13:46

    Yes, exams are a snapshot but it is still a fairly reliable measure of specific attainment.  Personally, I'd much rather have an exam than have to plough through a whole series of dire assessments which feels like a course of creeping death.

    Continuous assessment is also at risk of impression management over a period of time - at least exams are generally anonymous.  It is far too common for an assessor to make assumptions based on previous work, classroom attitude, or the fact that he/she just plain doesn't like the person they are assessing (and, occasionally, I've also seen it where assessors supplied haven't even been qualified in the subjects that they've been sent to assess when it's included workplace activity).  Likewise the halo effect: well, this person is generally so good and it doesn't really matter that he/she can't spell.  Add to that the proliferation of internet model answers that teachers can't possibly keep up with, and people being paid to write assessed assignments...  Maybe this is opening up a whole new world of possibilities to some!

    No, exam.  Get it over and done with.  Have a bad day and retake it. 

  • Ditto with my experiences of exams Jon - but have to say my experience when I sat my Masters exams were quite different.  Not least because the tutors at the Uni I attended spent an entire session on how to plan for exams and how to approach the questions at the beginning of the allocated time.  Had someone bothered to do that when I was younger then I'm certain they'd have been a better experience as a teenager!


  • Jon

    | 45 Posts


    27 Jun, 2014 08:32

    Helen - absolutely agree re support from tutors as in the main the tutors have been superb preparing us in terms of content and expectations - however this doesn't help remove for me what has been a phobia since childhood and even at my mature age I had to work hard to ensure that I was prepared and knew my stuff.

    Rosemarie - not a fan of continuous assessment then!! To an extent I agree and I suppose that the best approach is a mixed approach which in fairness the masters has acheived as it has involved assignments, formal presentations, poster presentations, group work and exams.


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