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    I'm a mature student who was also a student a long time ago. In 1982, I sat and passed the Law Society's professional qualifying exam. In those days, there was no such thing as an assignment.
    The post says:
    "They are nothing to do with ability". Oh yes they are. You won't pass the exam without the ability. Law exams, particularly, contain problem questions which you need to solve. Of course, you also need knowledge to draw upon to solve those questions.
    That kind of skill applies to many other professions and skills.
    Fast forward to now. I am studying for a BSC in Computing and IT. I am in my first year. Thus far, I have not sat an exam. The pass mark is only 40%.
    How difficult is computing compared to law? Well the trouble is, I haven't been properly tested in computing. I have been given a ver easy ride. You see, to do well for an assignment, all I have to do is read the relevant text or article(s), formulate an answer then write it down.
    Assignments only test your understanding. They do not test retained knowledge. That is why there is not a substitute for an exam.
    The overwhelming majority of students can pass an exam if they put in the work for it. Impediments, such as slow writing are just an excuse for not working to correct the problem. If you are not capable, you do not deserve to be awarded a qualification. If you pass an exam, you are more likely to retain knowledge than if you don't. Furthermore, being able to pass an exam is an important ability in its own right. It tests your speed of thought, which is a vital skill in the workplace related to certain qualifications.
    One day, a machine might be invented which can analyse the knowledge and skill in your brain but thankfully, it won't happen whilst I am alive. Until that time, there is no substitute for exams.
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    Exams are flawed in the sense that they are unrealistic. In reality you don't always get do overs or repeats, however you do have access to countless resources that ensure you do not need to repeat it. Understanding is implied but not necessarily there.

    Personally I understand topics and am able to explain a concept, but ask me to list key words and hit the exact points on a mark scheme and I am stuck. Exams don't suit me, I can do well because I understand but not as well as I should because I can't memorize.

    A lot of my classmates/friends/family are the same. Give one of my friends a maths question and he will get the right answer. But his method is one that he has come up with based on his understanding of the topic and not the one required. He is better than me mathematically, yet I do better in a maths exam as I am able to recall the method slightly better (due to practice... not memory).

    GCSE's and A-Levels are not as important as you are told throughout your education, but they are a pathway you have to take in order to get to what does matter... A uni education/apprenticeship/experience/ a Job. But exam results aren't always a good indication of intelligence in the same was that IQ tests aren't. People can be naturally intelligent but not apply themselves so fail exams. People could understand obscure, harder concepts than those tested but would not say what is needed as they say too much about the topic or write too slowly (on that note don't most of us type more than we write anyway?). Some who do well in exams do deserve it, are intelligent and learn the right way. But in the same way some people do well because they can recite mark schemes and textbook quotes, but the understanding is not there. As the article says, there are other qualities that people need but exams don't give you. Team work, dedication, communication. Skills like teamwork are sometimes hindered by exams.
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    I'm so pleased that so many users have commented here. The nature of exams is something that is often just taken for granted without question.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to make such carefully considered responses - I've enjoyed reading them. Maybe they could be the basis for another article?
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    (Original post by The Learn Ranger)
    I'm so pleased that so many users have commented here. The nature of exams is something that is often just taken for granted without question.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to make such carefully considered responses - I've enjoyed reading them. Maybe they could be the basis for another article?
    Or even just bombard the exam boards with a link to this thread :rofl:
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    Exam boards earn a fortune off of our suffering.
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    The UK should have common national exams for everyone just like many other countries, and not different exam boards causing so much confusion. Of course this is unlikely to ever change with all the money being made....

    Apart from that I'm totally for Exams and completely against coursework, where you can get outside help.
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    (Original post by ben.anderson)
    Good question. My Grandad (nearly 90) who got fantastic job in engineering - left school at 13 (that I don't agree with!) and was great at his job. All this education, uni, colleges, whatever else; while I understand for some industries - what does it actually achieve in most? I now run a web design business, I would rather employ someone with real life experience from Asda rather than someone who might have the brains but has not been in the real world.
    the job market's slightly different now to when your grand-dad was 13

    Would you rather high a random guy who'd done a summer at Asda than a CompSci grad from Imperial? For your web-design business, that is.
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    Exams are alright if not for time limits. So many exams I've sat I could have hands down gotten 100% if I didn't have to finish off the last 30-40% in 5 minutes time.


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    (Original post by Princepieman)
    Exams are alright if not for time limits. So many exams I've sat I could have hands down gotten 100% if I didn't have to finish off the last 30-40% in 5 minutes time.


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    Correction 99.9% its never 100.
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    (Original post by Popsiclez)
    Correction 99.9% its never 100.
    Touché
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    Even if life isn't like an exam, I firmly believe that exams are a good indicator of general competence.

    Sure you can Google most things but I wouldn't trust a professional person who had to look up basic laws or everyday formulae to be able to do his job, I'm not sure why I would pay such a person. Imposing a strict time limit as well as forming you to commit basic stuff to memory means that you will be an effective worker, rather than a slow useless worker.
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    Exams test what you know about the subject when you go into a-levels and onwards. Yes you work under pressure but you do the exact same thing in a workplace, you're under pressure to complete tasks. Really don't see the point in this article because whether we like it or not, exams are very much the difference between being a cleaner and getting a £100,000 a year job
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    (Original post by 2016_GCSE)
    You should get graded based on your learning in class through:
    Doing homework
    Listening to the teacher
    Listening to the teacherNot overly talkingNot been distruptiveThese all reflect your behaviour, not your academic ability... what if you're utterly stupid, but behave well? Let's reward that with an A* in maths? Also, teachers will have different standards. Something that's an A* for one teacher, it could be a B for another one. It would be impossible to compare students. I know this, because I come from a country where they gave us grades based on our work in class... it just doesn't work.
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    Basically, people who are good at exams like them, and people who are bad at exams complain they're not a 'true reflection of their ability'. Something which is incredibly valuable is to be able to perform under pressure, which basically doesn't exist outside of an exam context in schools. Similarly, any well-written exam tests one's ability to understand and apply concepts rather than simply regurgitate them. Unfortunately, whenever an exam board actually tries it, people who are used to rote learning complain that it's too hard, because mindlessly doing past papers doesn't help.

    What is needed is an upgrade of the system. Coursework is obviously flawed - the problem there is that parental assistance, and the quality thereof, can form a huge part of one's success in it. I'd simply get rid of it, and possibly replace it with monthly exams in addition to a final exam at the end of a course. I'd also change the structure of questions to be less formulaic (so, for instance, instead of GCSE maths exams saying 'find angle x' (and if they're being really kind, mentioning 'using trigonometry'), just have a written paragraph and no diagrams making things easier). For history, have a core set of facts, but make questions far more variable so they can't be taught method-wise. Maybe mix in some basic economics etc. Languages might be a bit harder due to the lack of a wide vocabulary, but you could at least change question structure every year or something.
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    IMO there needs to be the reintroduction of January exams for anyone retaking AS modules. Having a bad day in Y12 just puts even more pressure on students in Y13.

    I would quite like a system where it is a modular and linear combination.

    Take A-level history, I do 4 units - Germany, Italy, Tudors and Witchcraft (coursework)...

    Year 12
    Germany (15%) (60% AS)
    Italy (10%) (40% AS)

    Year 13
    Germany (15%)
    Italy (10%)
    Tudors (15%)
    Witchcraft coursework (10%)

    A blend of the old and new system. AS counts for something, but is examined again in Y13 to ensure content is developed on and connections can be made to aspects of the course. More weighting placed on A2 as the exams become more rigorous.
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    (Original post by jamestg)
    IMO there needs to be the reintroduction of January exams for anyone retaking AS modules. Having a bad day in Y12 just puts even more pressure on students in Y13.
    I think I once argued for fully linear qualifications with you on a similar thread - just wanted to let you know that I now agree that we should have kept January exams. :lol:
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    Exams are great.
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    (Original post by EricPiphany)
    Exams are great.
    ...said no one ever.
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    (Original post by Popsiclez)
    ...said no one ever.

    Actually, one of my chemistry teachers got quite excited at the prospect of giving exams. She had this big smile on her face every time.
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    (Original post by EricPiphany)
    Actually, one of my chemistry teachers got quite excited at the prospect of giving exams. She had this big smile on her face every time.
    She's probably a sadist

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