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Musings

Exam Answers On The Internet: Much Ado About Nothing

The straightforward response to individuals who are outraged by the practice of exchanging and checking examination answers on the Internet is: don’t be. Or rather, if you are bothered by these publications – especially from the tuition centres – then don’t visit them.

Remind me: why is this even news? Do we really expect the providers to stop?

Here’s the “debate”. Parents are worried that their children might be distracted after checking their answers, and consequently be unable to concentrate for their remaining assessments. It “could demoralise them and affect (their) performance (in) subsequent papers”. They are also worried that it would create more stress and pressure, and serve to “pique even more competitiveness among students”. This practice seems really reprehensible!

I thought the more interesting takeaway was whether national test-takers should be allowed to review their assessed scripts, to understand where they might have gone wrong. The purposes of streaming, standardisation, and school admissions notwithstanding, if examinations are supposed to help schoolchildren compare and evaluate their own performance, then post-examination diagnostics should be provided.  “We forget that an examination is an excellent channel to ascertain our personal progress, and the areas for improvements. As it stands, test-takers are simply given their grades and final scores, without a breakdown or analysis of their performance in the respective subject components (here and here).

Plus, it compels test-markers and assessors to be much more rigorous too.

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About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Exam Answers On The Internet: Much Ado About Nothing

  1. Are post-examination reviews and analyses really practical (assuming it’s done on an individual basis)? I think not. If, however, you’re talking about conducting these performance reviews on a larger scale – say, for the performance of the entire cohort – well it’s already implemented with the annual marker’s report for each subject. Albeit confidential, educators have been using these reports meticulously to take note of AFIs, as well as tools to adjust and better their pedagogies & teaching styles.

    Perhaps the better question would be: How can educators utilize these reports more efficiently? Given the prevalent take-up of private tuitions, should educators from the private sector (tuition teachers, private schools etc) also be permitted to gain access to these marker’s reports?

    Posted by Panda | November 6, 2013, 8:08 am
  2. Follow-up to the previous comment:

    To clarify my viewpoint further, I’m talking about national examinations.

    With regard to internal examinations, I believe it is up to the individual student themselves to take up the onus and initiative to approach their own subject tutors and arrange an appointment/consultation session to review their scripts and assess their performance in a more rigorous manner. Though already practiced widely in JCs, this kind of review is still significantly lacking in secondary schools, given the larger student-to-teacher ratio.

    Posted by Panda | November 6, 2013, 8:19 am
    • As you’ve expounded – ideally – students should have the option to “approach their own subject tutors and arrange an appointment/consultation session to review their scripts”. While this option is available for the other examinations, it is not the case for the national examinations.

      If the problems are practical / pragmatic ones – scale, time, copyright issues – then it should be about circumventing them, instead of shying away from them (especially if the takeaways are deemed to be justified).

      With these arrangements, educators can still do whatever they want with the marker’s report. That is not a “better question”, but a complementary one.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | November 6, 2013, 9:04 am
      • Perhaps an alternative to make post-exam reviews more customized and detailed, is to provide the analyses of each school’s cohort performance instead. This can be done not just in the quantitative sense (with the typical, ostentatious display of a plethora of statistics on passing rates, distinction rates, number of As scored etc); but also in the qualitative sense, such as the suitability of writing style, coherence of arguments provided, relevance of examples & case-studies used (this IMO is quite crucial – especially for humanities subjects – whereby as contentious as it may sound, but one cannot deny that some schools do provide more apt & relevant case studies on certain topics than others) etc.

        Although not conducted on an individual basis, at least such a review on such a scale provides a much more in-depth assessment of the efficacy and relevance of each school’s curriculum & teaching style, which in turn indirectly affect the competency of their students to perform in the national examination.

        Posted by Panda | November 6, 2013, 9:30 am

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