Logi
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One thing I have noticed while doing A-level exams is that the time limits are usually quite tight. I always thought the reason for exams was to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a subject but in such a situation a tight time restriction doesn't make sense - you're not suddenly going to become more knowledgeable by sitting in an exam room for longer after all.

So that leads me to believe that's not the purpose of exams. Is it instead to test how quickly we can write or how quickly we can formulate our ideas? Or perhaps the syllabus of most subjects is so accessible that anyone can develop an understanding (or at least memorise the content) and so an exam looking to assess only knowledge and understanding would result in almost perfect grades?

In short I'd like to know what you believe A level exams are intending to assess and (excluding the extremes) why they have such restrictive time constraints?
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najinaji
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I've no idea. Our whole system of testing seems pretty bizarre to me to be honest. For example, writing a History essay without any sources to hand. No historian would do that...

EDIT: Perhaps a good method would be to have a system like an EPQ for all subjects? Then you'd have like 4 'mini-theses'.
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Freiheit
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So people can have a manageable exam timetable I think. Imagine having a 4 hour chemistry exam followed by a 4 hour psychology exam and everything has to fit in the exam season.
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clad in armour
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Its essentially part of the exam itself, can you answer the questions correctly AND in a limited time
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Logi
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(Original post by Freiheit)
So people can have a manageable exam timetable I think. Imagine having a 4 hour chemistry exam followed by a 4 hour psychology exam and everything has to fit in the exam season.
Would a better solution not be to spread the exams out a bit more instead of cramming everything in?
(Original post by clad in armour)
Its essentially part of the exam itself, can you answer the questions correctly AND in a limited time
Yes, but why is the time relevant? Why is speed an important area to assess?
(Original post by najinaji)
EDIT: Perhaps a good method would be to have a system like an EPQ for all subjects? Then you'd have like 4 'mini-theses'.
From a brief read of what EPQs entail they seem to make more sense. They appear to assess the skills that would actually be useful at university and later academic work :O
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clad in armour
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(Original post by Logi)
Would a better solution not be to spread the exams out a bit more instead of cramming everything in?Yes, but why is the time relevant? Why is speed an important area to assess?
I don't know if you've heard the phrase, give some monkeys infinite time and typewriters and you'll end up with all of Shakespeares work.........
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Barbarian
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Having a time limit assesess your intellect an patience. Isn't it better to get all your exams over and done with?
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Logi
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(Original post by clad in armour)
I don't know if you've heard the phrase, give some monkeys infinite time and typewriters and you'll end up with all of Shakespeares work.........
That seems to fit with the idea that the subjects don't contain enough depth (I also said excluding the extremes :P) But it should still be easy to differentiate between someone who has an understanding of the subject matter and someone who is rattling off as much information as they can on a page whether relevant or not.
(Original post by Barbarian)
Having a time limit assesess your intellect. Would be pointless if there wasn't time restrictions
That's a very broad point to make. Would you care to narrow it down a little?
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Eternal*
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(Original post by clad in armour)
I don't know if you've heard the phrase, give some monkeys infinite time and typewriters and you'll end up with all of Shakespeares work.........
:giggle:
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username366985
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A bit off topic but what would people think of a third exam session in one day (evening)?

e.g. morning (around 9:30), afternoon (13:30) and evenining (idk around 5:30?)
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FallenMan
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I think because you can "babble" on if you have no time limit. You would probably say everything you know about the topic, eventually going on a tangent. However, time restraints mean you (in theory) are more concise with your answers, meaning you get marks quicker.
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edd360
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Speed is an important area to assess because funnily enough in the real world things are also constricted by time.
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mysticalfluffy
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If your knowledge of a subject is more sure, surely you'll take less time to think about the various possibilities for an answer.
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TheJ0ker
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I agree, I was doing an M2 past paper yesterday and got stuck on a question, I thought for about an hour about it which I will be unable to do in the real exam and figured out what I had to do with no outside help and got full marks on the paper. I spent 2.5 hrs on the past paper which is an hour more than allowed and I can't comprehend why I should be penalised for taking my time. I bet Newton wasn't given a time limit for discovering calculus.....
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Barbarian
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(Original post by Logi)
That seems to fit with the idea that the subjects don't contain enough depth (I also said excluding the extremes :P) But it should still be easy to differentiate between someone who has an understanding of the subject matter and someone who is rattling off as much information as they can on a page whether relevant or not.That's a very broad point to make. Would you care to narrow it down a little?
Sorry mate, I don't even understand my own point But I guess it just tests your mindset to see if you have the patience and intellect.
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najinaji
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(Original post by edd360)
Speed is an important area to assess because funnily enough in the real world things are also constricted by time.
No-one in any academic field has to type out an essay in an hour and a half. If the work was timed in a matter of weeks, then fair enough. But minutes?
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whyumadtho
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It assesses your ability to formulate ideas and present them in a coherent, succinct fashion. With unlimited time, students will effectively 'brain dump' and just list everything they remember without trying to structure it well or extrapolate the key points.

Alternatively, the markers are just lazy.
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edd360
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(Original post by najinaji)
No-one in any academic field has to type out an essay in an hour and a half. If the work was timed in a matter of weeks, then fair enough. But minutes?
I never said the constraints were the same. Regardless, time management is an extremely important trait to have in the real world. It's not about "can you do X task in an hour and a half" it's "can you do X task in Y amount of time".

It's all about time management, and that is what they are trying to teach you.
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Logi
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(Original post by edd360)
Speed is an important area to assess because funnily enough in the real world things are also constricted by time.
A levels are designed as a stepping stone for university and academia and in academic careers time scale is less of an issue. To use clads author of choice, would shakespeares works be lessened if they had taken more time to produce? If anything I'd imagine the opposite would be true. The same would be true for engineering or scientific discoveries (excluding the possibility someone might get there first ) so I'm not seeing the issue.
(Original post by edd360)
It's all about time management, and that is what they are trying to teach you.
Covered by turning up on time for the exam
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sclez1
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(Original post by edd360)
Speed is an important area to assess because funnily enough in the real world things are also constricted by time.
Yes, but in any area of the real world the ratio of quality:speed seems to put far more emphasis on quality and far less on speed than in exams. Therefore, if exams were to truly assess based on the real world there should be a longer time limit.
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