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Weekly topic: Is the use of a computer for essay based exams unfair? Watch

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    (Original post by kerriveal)
    whats also annoying is that people assume that rest breaks are the same thing as having extra time. It's so irritating!
    There seriously seems to be a massive lack of understanding for this sort of thing, but the clue is in the word, a break implies that you take a step back from the paper, not carry on writing!
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    I use a word processor for my exams.

    It's a huge, huge bonus. The best part of it is that I can go back and rewrite any part of the essay. Consequently, I usually write my introductions after I've written the rest of the essay. I don't have to plan everything that I'm going to say before I start writing; as soon as a I think of something, I can write it down.

    Is it unfair? Totally. I imagine the point of being able to use a word processor is to put you on equal terms as those who write by hand, but word processors give distinct advantages that those who write by hand do not have.

    For those wondering, I use a word processor both because of illegible handwriting and a certain condition that causes me to think in different, slower ways. I also get 25% extra time, and the fact that I can type really quickly may have contributed to me getting a word processor.
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    (Original post by SunnysideSea)
    If I'm crap at maths I suffer for it. If someone's crap at writing they should suffer too, not get a laptop to make it all better again.
    The thing is, using a laptop doesn't make you any better at writing. If someone has a disadvantage such as a disability, a laptop simply makes the exam more equal for them because of the things that they struggle with, such as physical difficulties in writing. I know lots of people who have laptops for exams but still really struggle with essay subjects and are much better at maths and sciences. People don't get given a laptop for being 'crap at writing', it is generally because they have a disability or something similar.
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    Yes! Depends what they have the computer for. Someone got one because they broke the wrist in the arm that they don't write with?!
    I could write so much more and so much more neatly if I had a computer. I could also easily go back and add new ideas as I think of them rather than having to add them at the end. I would love it for my ICT and economics exams. Also if it's ICT why am I able to get through a whole school year without having to use a computer? You could get an a level in ICT (aqa) and not even know how to turn a computer on.
    Writing for a solid two hours is tiring, I tried to get my left hand neater in time for my a2's so that I could swap hands if needed but it just looked like a five year older handwriting so I gave up.
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    (Original post by oswalds)
    There seriously seems to be a massive lack of understanding for this sort of thing, but the clue is in the word, a break implies that you take a step back from the paper, not carry on writing!
    Whilst that is true, and correct me if I'm wrong, you have something of an advantage as you get extra 'thinking time' if you want to during those rest breaks (may or may not be true depending on why you get rest breaks in the first place though). I don't know how they work, but I would think that you can answer 1 essay question for example, look at the next essay question and plan it in your head whilst resting?
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    I think it's fine.

    I really want to use a laptop for my A2 exams (Literature exams) but everytime I go to the handwriting guy he goes oh you just need to practice. My hand hurts like hell when I'm writing essays so next time I go to him I'll use that as my excuse to get a laptop. Hopefully he'll agree to it.
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    (Original post by SeanFM)
    Whilst that is true, and correct me if I'm wrong, you have something of an advantage as you get extra 'thinking time' if you want to during those rest breaks (may or may not be true depending on why you get rest breaks in the first place though). I don't know how they work, but I would think that you can answer 1 essay question for example, look at the next essay question and plan it in your head whilst resting?
    When you take a rest break, you have to step away from the PC (at least that was the case in my uni), i've a slow processing speed and crap short term memory, so although a rest gives you more time to think, i d spend it trying to get the pain to stop and would have forgotten my planned answer within the 15 mins break anyway, if that makes sense?.
    Although some people would have rest breaks solely for physical conditions,most of the people i've met with them had either spld's or adhd, if you had an injury/physical limb disability they'd have probably offered a scribe.
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    (Original post by kerriveal)
    Thank you so much, somebody who understands! I get rest breaks in exams due to a diagnosis a few years ago, and people literally think that it's unfair they don't get it too! It simply levels the playing field for us guys - do we have to reapply at uni or are they carried forward?
    (Original post by oswalds)
    I know right! I think a lot of the problem is these things are due to invisible problems a lot of the time, so people don't actually realise why you need these things, it can get very annoying! I think they are carried on at uni. Have you applied for a DSA? I've just had a meeting for one today and they write up a report for you, which has recommendations and they put things like rest breaks on there for you. The person I had my meeting with said if you have had arrangements at school, it's unlikely that you will be refused them at uni.
    I've never heard of a university refusing adjustments like that, from my experience university was much more supportive, so i recon if its on your diagnostic report or needs assessment then there's no chance of refusal really. Some universities allow you to use speech to text software instead of typing, something to consider if your dyspraxia doesnt affect your speech, depends on your typing speed and how comfortable you feel using the software.
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    (Original post by claireestelle)
    When you take a rest break, you have to step away from the PC (at least that was the case in my uni), i've a slow processing speed and crap short term memory, so although a rest gives you more time to think, i d spend it trying to get the pain to stop and would have forgotten my planned answer within the 15 mins break anyway, if that makes sense?.
    I see what you mean, yeah.

    For you it wouldn't really be possible then, but it's difficult to put one label on everyone as these things are very much on a case by case basis. With how you find things, it would be very difficult, but I dunno.. I guess people (and I am guilty of it just then) can be quick to assume that it's not that bad for the people who use them or its unfair etc.. and I'm not sure what I'm saying anymore but I see what you're saying.
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    (Original post by SeanFM)
    I see what you mean, yeah.

    For you it wouldn't really be possible then, but it's difficult to put one label on everyone as these things are very much on a case by case basis. With how you find things, it would be very difficult, but I dunno.. I guess people (and I am guilty of it just then) can be quick to assume that it's not that bad for the people who use them or its unfair etc.. and I'm not sure what I'm saying anymore but I see what you're saying.
    I can see what you're saying in a way, generally rest breaks are up to a limit so they shouldnt give anyone an advantage really. But like you say it is always on a case to case basis and even with comparing me to others with dyslexia and dyspraxia, if affects everyone on a spectrum and with some different symptoms or worse than others (for me its different on a daily basis really).

    It can be quite difficult for someone to recognize how difficult writing is for some as pain and fatigue mentally isn't something people tend to have as much empathy for as seeing someone clearly struggling physically (although anyone who sees me tie laces or hold a pen who probably not something isnt right).
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    My college is really cr*p with this. My mate has a computer he had to use notepad, so there was no spell check etc, however another student in the same exam got word with spell check and for some reason the internet wasnt turned off. She didnt use it though (we could all see her screen because they didnt move her to the side or another room like theyre supposed to!!) . They also didnt check they had enough charge and so hers cut out half way through the exam (on 3 separate exams!!- you would have thought they would have learnt the first time tbh!)

    Im okay with the principle of it, my college actually has trained people to test for dyslexia/dyspraxia etc to ensure only the people who need it, get it. Though anybody can get coloured paper etc
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    (Original post by SeanFM)
    Whilst that is true, and correct me if I'm wrong, you have something of an advantage as you get extra 'thinking time' if you want to during those rest breaks (may or may not be true depending on why you get rest breaks in the first place though). I don't know how they work, but I would think that you can answer 1 essay question for example, look at the next essay question and plan it in your head whilst resting?
    I don't use rest breaks myself, and fair enough, sometimes they could be used for thinking time, but a lot of the people I know personally who have them, have them because of their concentration. They can't really concentrate on one thing for a long time, so need that break to take their mind off the exam (I know someone who uses that time to eat a snack, and then she'll go back). I don't know anyone personally who has rest breaks for physical reasons, but I do see how this could allow them extra thinking time, if they weren't just relaxing in that time which I'm sure some do instead.
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    (Original post by oswalds)
    I don't use rest breaks myself, and fair enough, sometimes they could be used for thinking time, but a lot of the people I know personally who have them, have them because of their concentration. They can't really concentrate on one thing for a long time, so need that break to take their mind off the exam (I know someone who uses that time to eat a snack, and then she'll go back). I don't know anyone personally who has rest breaks for physical reasons, but I do see how this could allow them extra thinking time, if they weren't just relaxing in that time which I'm sure some do instead.
    I see what you're saying, so I suppose it'd be possible for some people maybe, and not jump to conclusions like I do. :hide: :getmecoat:
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    (Original post by claireestelle)
    I've never heard of a university refusing adjustments like that, from my experience university was much more supportive, so i recon if its on your diagnostic report or needs assessment then there's no chance of refusal really. Some universities allow you to use speech to text software instead of typing, something to consider if your dyspraxia doesnt affect your speech, depends on your typing speed and how comfortable you feel using the software.
    I'm glad you've said university is more supportive, and I feel like it would be pretty bad on them to ignore something in a report. I had a go with some speech to text software today and it was useful, more for short pieces of text as I have a slight stutter. I didn't think I'd like it but it was useful.
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    (Original post by SeanFM)
    I see what you're saying, so I suppose it'd be possible for some people maybe, and not jump to conclusions like I do. :hide: :getmecoat:
    I feel like rest breaks could be considered a bit of a grey area, like it's difficult to determine what people will do in them or not. In some instances they could be giving someone an unfair disadvantages, but others, you never know.:dontknow:
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    (Original post by oswalds)
    I feel like rest breaks could be considered a bit of a grey area, like it's difficult to determine what people will do in them or not. In some instances they could be giving someone an unfair disadvantages, but others, you never know.:dontknow:
    Agreed. I think, with these things, nothing will ever be perfectly fair, and there's really not a 'one fits all' type policy.
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    (Original post by oswalds)
    I'm glad you've said university is more supportive, and I feel like it would be pretty bad on them to ignore something in a report. I had a go with some speech to text software today and it was useful, more for short pieces of text as I have a slight stutter. I didn't think I'd like it but it was useful.
    Given a few hours software can adapt to your voice and you can programme it quite well so definetly give it a good go
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    I have rest breaks due to chronic fatigue, and if I didn't have them, I genuinely don't think I could get through my exams. In my rest breaks, I took in colouring, or just sat there staring out of the window doing breathing exercises in order to relax. Lots of people felt it was unfair, but I was so mentally and physically exhausted after each exam, I don't think they realised how challenging doing exams is for some people.
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    (Original post by SeanFM)
    Agreed. I think, with these things, nothing will ever be perfectly fair, and there's really not a 'one fits all' type policy.
    That's true. Even if you try to make it as fair for everyone as possible, it can only be expected that some will able to be at an advantage. It's very difficult to make everything equal for everyone.
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    Learning support measures such as extra time, rest breaks, the use of a word processor or a smaller room does a great job in giving the students who actually require them a fair chance against everyone else and levelling the playing field. However, the system does get abused by people that don't really require such measures but get them anyway.
 
 
 
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