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Assessment in Essay-Based Subjects

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    I'm interested to know what people think of the way essay-based subjects are assessed (particularly at universities). I was browsing my local YikYak feed a few days ago and someone said this:

    "I worked in the real world for 6 years before coming to university, actually. Students during revision period are far more stressed than most people living n the "real world". It's unhealthy. But not only is it unhealthy, it's a useless way of assessing them. Half of the brightest students here have issues with anxiety which cripples their exam results. It's silly and unnecessary. Timed testing is terrible in just about every situation where time is not a factor in whatever is being assessed. The countries with the best education systems don't test."

    The reply was: "I was having this chat with my professor. He happens to agree. He'd much prefer more reflective modules in the arts that allow students to write more creatively in their essays. Time pressured exams display nothing of the individual's ability as a scholar but more as a regurgitator."

    I personally agree with what these people are saying - I study French and Spanish and 4 out of my 6 modules are based on foreign literature (most of the modules are 40/50% coursework and 50/60% exam). I'm doing exams at the moment and have found them quite stressful, and after the exams I've realised what I could have written instead, what interesting arguments I could have made. I know it's hard to get essay structures perfect in exams, but I would have probably felt better about my work had I been given the time to research and do an in-depth plan and complete the essay as coursework. I don't think that necessarily means coursework is easier by any means - in fact the examiners are probably stricter when marking it because they're looking for a higher standard. But for me coursework for literature/essay-based subjects makes more sense for subjects that test analytical and debating skills rather than facts?
    After all, scholars and academics writing articles don't sit down in an exam for one/two hours and their work suddenly gets published; they take months, even years. Exams really miss out a huge part of what academia is about: research and drafting so you can be proud of the work you hand in.

    But I've heard some people say that they don't mind exams too much and perform well under pressure, so I think it depends on the individual. What are your thoughts on this?

    I've always found it weird that writing an essay can be time assessed. If I have to write a long (relatively) philosophy essay in my AS exam I've got like 40 minutes to sort out what I'm gonna say and then write it, which leads to me mostly regurgitating and adapting what ye olde philosophers of the past have said to fit my needs. If an actual philosopher of some sort was given the same sort of open ended question to ponder I'd imagine they'd probably spend weeks thinking about the question and coming up with something themselves. I can "perform well" under pressure, so to speak, but the whole process feels unsatisfactory.

    Come to think of it, individual testing in itself is a tad odd for certain subjects seeing as a lot of work in the "real world" is done collaboratively with other people, but I suppose you have to assess how talented the individual is somehow.
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