Writing for The Student Journals, Ali Gokal of City University examines examinations:
I’ve just packed all my undergraduate books and notes into a dusty, dingy, disused cupboard. Cathartic moment, massive whoop. But after three years of undergraduate education, what conclusion have I come to? Examinations are out-dated and a poor barometer for academic achievement.
My notes on American Constitutional Law alone pile half a foot high. Our syllabus was fascinating and broad: reconstruction and civil rights, cruel and unusual punishment, the right to privacy and abortion were but a few of the elements of this extensive course. Nonetheless my examination was a three hour assessment on just a triumvirate of these themes. I’m usually filled with a strange feeling of disappointment after exams. Days slogged over topics that never come up always proves to be of the utmost frustration. Too much elbow grease and not enough sleep goes into seminars that are ultimately conspicuous by their absence in the examination room…
My problem is this: exams assess the wrong skills. To perform well, strong organisational skills, the ability to work well under pressure and a good memory are necessary. Yes, to do well in an English paper knowledge of The Great Gatsby will be essential. But prized, too, are otherwise meaningless talents such as the ability to write quickly. Style is as valued as substance. In the real world, these ‘skills’ are of little, if any, significance.
Full article here.