Friday, July 28, 2006

Why Revision is Cheating

This is one of those things I don't think I was allowed to say back when I was teaching...

Most of education seems to be assessed by exams. Great, I think, as someone who is quite good at them. Exams are designed to test your on-the-spot recall of and ability at answering questions on a subject. It's not all that matters in real-life use of a subject - what you do when you have time to think about it and can go away and look stuff up also matters - but it's an important part.

What you virtually never get in real life though is having to recall all the material you have studied, and getting six months notice that it's going to be at such and such a time, in such and such a place. My pupils didn't give me six months' notice that they were going to ask me about gravity or how batteries work or whatever. They just did it.

So if exams are really texting your ability to think on the spot, then revising for them is kind of cheating. It's a legal kind of cheating, but it's cheating nonetheless because you don't get much notice in real life.

If exams aren't testing your ability to think on the spot, then why not make them open book?

And yes, I know that coursework, especially at GCSE, is an even more flawed system.

Oh yes, another thing. If exams are testing your ability to think on the spot and whatever, they why give some people extra time for dyslexia (literally bad reading)? They don't get it in real life - they have to compete on an even playing field with everyone else. Or if people with dyslexia get extra time, why not give people who can read really well (eulexia) less time? I honestly can't see what the exam system is meant to be doing.

But hey, I was always pretty good at exams, and I've got a load more to do. And yes, I'll probably revise for them. But I'll still think it's cheating.

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