Are exams good indicators of academic ability

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gerib17
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#1
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#1
Questions in the title. Exams can be considered as irrelevant forms of academic indicators of progress. Some want to try and cheat.
My view however is that for some subjects it’s a case of having a good memory and that’s it. For example, MFL. The good things that come out of exams is that it tests your ability for subjects that you can advance at A-Level. Also that it is timed conditions makes it better because it tests students timing on answering questions about the subject. Obviously the quicker the better.

Any views?
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IrrationalRoot
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Generally speaking, yes.
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Ray_Shadows
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most exams are around how many facts you can memorise (for science as an example)

some exams that rely on essay skills (english and history) tend to test your ability on how to use advanced vocabulary and structuring

and then there's maths which instead of you knowing the question they really want you to know the topic even more
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username3778658
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Ok generally speaking, yes. But isn’t it all just one big test of memory? I mean sure, you have to have the knowledge to do maths such as using the cosine rule, but you then have to actually memorise the equation. It’s the same with English’s and all that quote memorising.
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Smack
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(Original post by DragonflyIsland)
Ok generally speaking, yes. But isn’t it all just one big test of memory? I mean sure, you have to have the knowledge to do maths such as using the cosine rule, but you then have to actually memorise the equation. It’s the same with English’s and all that quote memorising.
Memorisation can be a big factor in exams, because being able to memorise information is a very important part of one's academic ability.
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username3778658
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(Original post by Smack)
Memorisation can be a big factor in exams, because being able to memorise information is a very important part of one's academic ability.
I get that but some people have better memory than others, and yet their application towards a question could be the exact same or even better, but they were just inhibited by the fact that they missed out an algebraic letter or a key word in a quote
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Tiger Rag
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#7
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No. Exams are a test of memory mostly.
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04MR17
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Academic ability doesn't exist.
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gerib17
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(Original post by 04MR17)
Academic ability doesn't exist.
What do you mean?
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04MR17
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(Original post by gerib17)
What do you mean?
Exactly what I said. Academic ability is a concept invented during the enlightenment and the industrial revolution to separate people into two categories, those who are "academic" and "non-academic". This partition doesn't exist and brilliant people who fall on the wrong side of it think they're not. Cognitively speaking, intelligence exists, but whether something is deemed academic or not is simply a societal label.
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gerib17
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#11
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(Original post by 04MR17)
Exactly what I said. Academic ability is a concept invented during the enlightenment and the industrial revolution to separate people into two categories, those who are "academic" and "non-academic". This partition doesn't exist and brilliant people who fall on the wrong side of it think they're not. Cognitively speaking, intelligence exists, but whether something is deemed academic or not is simply a societal label.
Ok. Do you think exam results are then good indicators of intelligence? If that’s the way you’re looking at it I presume. 🤷*♂️
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04MR17
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(Original post by gerib17)
Ok. Do you think exam results are then good indicators of intelligence? If that’s the way you’re looking at it I presume. 🤷*♂️
Well that's a different question, but I don't think they are no. Exams in the UK mostly test logical/mathematical abilities, and linguistic abilities. Other elements of cognitive ability aren't tested using standardised external examinations.
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monkyvirus
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As a PhD student I'm going to take "academic ability" to mean "abilities possessed by competent academics", just to offer a different interpretation.

Exams largely test memory, at the moment, which is often important in academia. I've found it difficult to hold an academic discussion or answer questions when I don't have the information I need at my fingertips. Though I think you often acquire this sort of long-term knowledge with experience in your field. If you swim around in a specific subject long enough then the basics start to really sink in. Exams really test a very short-term ability to memorise because we are incentivised to cram for a single exam and then move on. So even when exams test memory it's not the right sort of memory.

A far larger part of being an academic is applying knowledge to novel situations, questioning and critiquing knowledge, and having a very deep understanding of knowledge. These traits are usually not tested by exams or at least not particularly well. You also need a lot of stamina, resilience and focus to be an academic. These can be tested by exams (though again it's a very short-term version of these things) but coursework is actually more similar to academia and I think tests these things more effectively.

tl;dr exams do not test the skills required to be an academic very effectively
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username1799249
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#14
Success at exams only tells people who good at exams you are.
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username3431918
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Depends on what skills the exam is testing. Exams in and of themselves consist of a HUGE range of types. But from my experience, no.
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The RAR
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#16
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#16
No, it's just a test of how much **** you can remember, people with poor memory are put at a disadvantage
It would be better to bring the old system back where we had exams for each unit rather than one big test at the end of two years, that means less to memorize and less pressure
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username3489684
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(Original post by gerib17)
Questions in the title. Exams can be considered as irrelevant forms of academic indicators of progress. Some want to try and cheat.
My view however is that for some subjects it’s a case of having a good memory and that’s it. For example, MFL. The good things that come out of exams is that it tests your ability for subjects that you can advance at A-Level. Also that it is timed conditions makes it better because it tests students timing on answering questions about the subject. Obviously the quicker the better.

Any views?
I don't think exams are good enough to test academic ability
my teacher was telling me that my oral skills in english lit and all subjects are at A standard or more but my writing skills are at a B. The fact that I put so much effort in throughout the year and others students dont yet get considerably better grades than me just because they're good at preparing for exams. I know girls who haven't attended most of the lessons throughout the year, yet manage to attain grade A. They put no effort in and boast about it too. It's really unfair that whilst I'm attending every lesson putting my absolute best into everything but none of that really matters does it? It doesn't factor into my grades much. Just predicted grades but like I said my writing skills are just not as good as oral skills.
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RoyalSheepy
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#18
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#18
It's a uniform way to measure people's memory, but IMO not a good way to judge academic abilities.
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lora2
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#19
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Of course they are a good indicator of academic ability because it is a fair way of assessment. If people are struggling they should do more revision.
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SarcAndSpark
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The ability to memorise facts and good written communication skills are useful in a lot of jobs though. For a lot of jobs, beyond knowing a basic level of maths, english and being able to use MS office, a large part of your performance will rely on your ability to learn new things and remember them. There are few jobs where you'd excel if you couldn't remember information. Interpersonal skills are also important- but it's harder to test these, and that's why jobs also interview.

Equally, the more you can remember of a subject, the more you can build on at the next stage.

What else does everyone think exams should be testing?
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