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Morkker
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#1
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#1
I have found myself learning about exam techniques more than actually learning about the content of the subject. Not because I choose to spend more time on exam techniques, but because it is almost ‘essential’ to know exam techniques to pass an exam with a good grade. What frustrates me is that exams nowadays really focuses on how the student answers the question, rather the what they answer.

Using the A-Level Physics exams as an example, After going through many past year papers, there are three main issues that I have notices. First, the mark scheme is very restrictive. Giving logical and accurate answers are not enough, they expect for certain keywords and points. I know that sometimes keywords are very important, but I just feel like that restrict our writing answers too much (and many students resort to memorising answers as it is easier). Which furthers supports my argument of the exam being more focused on exam techniques rather than the understanding.

Secondly, I find the questions kind of vague, especially the written ones. This makes me uncertain about what they are asking for and what to actually write. As for these kind of questions, you would expect that a range of different answers are accepted. However, like what I said before, the mark scheme is very restrictive. The only way you know how they want you too approach these question is to do past years. After doing so many past year papers, it is hard for me to give an example, but when I first started doing them, many times I cannot figure out why I cannot answer it this way, it is sort of the same meaning, just from a different angle. I can see that this problem happens to many other candidates too because in the examiner’s report, almost every year, there are comments on candidate’s weakness in written answers. That candidates are not giving the points they are looking for and that they should read the questions ‘more clearly’ or ‘give more detail’. But I think it is also partly the question’s fault, if they want a specific answer, they should just give more detail in the question, like “explain in terms of….”.

For example (just an example, might be fake, might be real haha), the word they want you to point out is that it is a parallel circuit. But if you write, because the potential difference across both components is the same. It is saying the same thing, because in a parallel circuit, the potential difference is the same across both components, but it is wrong because mark scheme underlines the words parallel. I know some may argue that it is more concise to write it a certain way, but if you only have 1 to 2 minutes to answer the question, they have to cut us some slack.

Lastly, it is about the inconsistency in the marking scheme. In different papers, you see the exact same question, but in the marking scheme, the answers and keywords they are looking for is so different. It is like they expect the students to read the examiners mind, as the answer changes every year. Even worse, sometimes, the answers are not even consistent with the endorsed textbook. Like out of no where, they want you to use that term, and only that term.

So what I am actually trying to say here is that the exam has been going on for so long, and the examiner’s sort of expect us to understand what they are asking without much detail. Which is why teachers and alumni always emphasise on exam techniques, because you need to get used to the asking style. It is sort of natural now to think that, of course, you need to get used to the way they ask the questions and ‘read between the lines’ but this begs the question. What are exams for? Is it to test if the candidate can answer in the way you want them to answer, or is it to test the candidate’s understanding on the topic. A exam should be completely supportive to the student in writing their answers, not trying to ‘trick’ them and make things ‘less obvious’ to ‘test if the candidates did their homework’.

I have taken other programs before, and when I do those exam papers, I never felt lost as I always know exactly what to write and confident that what I write will be evaluated in a fair manner. But when I do the A-Level exams papers, I keep feeling uncertain most of the time because the exam structure is so rigid that I have to watch my every word carefully, trying not to step outside the line and sort of predicting what they want. So I hope that they can change in exam system into something less reliant on exam techniques and more on what the candidates knowledge and understanding. I have done my research and I have found many teacher and examiners that also feel that the exam is ‘unfair’ to certain students. A good exam shouldn’t requirer any exam techniques, all you should need is your understanding.

I am writing this because in my most recent mock exam, in the written parts, I wrote some logical answers that answers what the question is asking, but because the marking scheme uses another approach to the question (with certain keywords, yea that word again), I don’t get the marks and it is kind of sad. Just wanted to rant out my depression. This is only my opinion and you do not have to agree to it. It may end up to be just my incompetency in life, so don’t take it too seriously
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Britney Spearing
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#2
Report 4 years ago
#2
(Original post by Morkker)
I have found myself learning about exam techniques more than actually learning about the content of the subject. Not because I choose to spend more time on exam techniques, but because it is almost ‘essential’ to know exam techniques to pass an exam with a good grade. What frustrates me is that exams nowadays really focuses on how the student answers the question, rather the what they answer.

Using the A-Level Physics exams as an example, After going through many past year papers, there are three main issues that I have notices. First, the mark scheme is very restrictive. Giving logical and accurate answers are not enough, they expect for certain keywords and points. I know that sometimes keywords are very important, but I just feel like that restrict our writing answers too much (and many students resort to memorising answers as it is easier). Which furthers supports my argument of the exam being more focused on exam techniques rather than the understanding.

Secondly, I find the questions kind of vague, especially the written ones. This makes me uncertain about what they are asking for and what to actually write. As for these kind of questions, you would expect that a range of different answers are accepted. However, like what I said before, the mark scheme is very restrictive. The only way you know how they want you too approach these question is to do past years. After doing so many past year papers, it is hard for me to give an example, but when I first started doing them, many times I cannot figure out why I cannot answer it this way, it is sort of the same meaning, just from a different angle. I can see that this problem happens to many other candidates too because in the examiner’s report, almost every year, there are comments on candidate’s weakness in written answers. That candidates are not giving the points they are looking for and that they should read the questions ‘more clearly’ or ‘give more detail’. But I think it is also partly the question’s fault, if they want a specific answer, they should just give more detail in the question, like “explain in terms of….”.

For example (just an example, might be fake, might be real haha), the word they want you to point out is that it is a parallel circuit. But if you write, because the potential difference across both components is the same. It is saying the same thing, because in a parallel circuit, the potential difference is the same across both components, but it is wrong because mark scheme underlines the words parallel. I know some may argue that it is more concise to write it a certain way, but if you only have 1 to 2 minutes to answer the question, they have to cut us some slack.

Lastly, it is about the inconsistency in the marking scheme. In different papers, you see the exact same question, but in the marking scheme, the answers and keywords they are looking for is so different. It is like they expect the students to read the examiners mind, as the answer changes every year. Even worse, sometimes, the answers are not even consistent with the endorsed textbook. Like out of no where, they want you to use that term, and only that term.

So what I am actually trying to say here is that the exam has been going on for so long, and the examiner’s sort of expect us to understand what they are asking without much detail. Which is why teachers and alumni always emphasise on exam techniques, because you need to get used to the asking style. It is sort of natural now to think that, of course, you need to get used to the way they ask the questions and ‘read between the lines’ but this begs the question. What are exams for? Is it to test if the candidate can answer in the way you want them to answer, or is it to test the candidate’s understanding on the topic. A exam should be completely supportive to the student in writing their answers, not trying to ‘trick’ them and make things ‘less obvious’ to ‘test if the candidates did their homework’.

I have taken other programs before, and when I do those exam papers, I never felt lost as I always know exactly what to write and confident that what I write will be evaluated in a fair manner. But when I do the A-Level exams papers, I keep feeling uncertain most of the time because the exam structure is so rigid that I have to watch my every word carefully, trying not to step outside the line and sort of predicting what they want. So I hope that they can change in exam system into something less reliant on exam techniques and more on what the candidates knowledge and understanding. I have done my research and I have found many teacher and examiners that also feel that the exam is ‘unfair’ to certain students. A good exam shouldn’t requirer any exam techniques, all you should need is your understanding.

I am writing this because in my most recent mock exam, in the written parts, I wrote some logical answers that answers what the question is asking, but because the marking scheme uses another approach to the question (with certain keywords, yea that word again), I don’t get the marks and it is kind of sad. Just wanted to rant out my depression. This is only my opinion and you do not have to agree to it. It may end up to be just my incompetency in life, so don’t take it too seriously
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AlwaysBroke.
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#3
Report 4 years ago
#3
That's quite similar to GCSE biology, I hate it, the mark schemes are so specific and questions too vague.

I find exam technique quite useful though because I generally know little bits of content (due to my slow, poor revision) but with good exam technique I can somehow bull crap my way through to getting those marks. Its extremely helpful in essay subjects such as RS and English
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