Wednesday 29 March 2017

Time to end predictability of exam questions

Reform of exam system needed to prevent students repeating someone else's answer
Reform of exam system needed to prevent students repeating someone else's answer

AS Education Minister Ruairi Quinn prepares to shake up both the Leaving and Junior Cert exams, I hope he will break new ground by acknowledging, at last, the real elephant in the room -- the predictability of exam questions.

Thousands of students attend 'revision courses' and 'intensive grinds' during their Easter break. They will return to schools clutching folders of 'notes', some claiming to have the inside track on 'what's coming up' this year. Students will have dropped out of ordinary schools to attend, at great expense to parents, 'grind schools'. This trend will be fed by claims that repeat students have become Einsteins over a few months and doubled their points.

Among students, there will be an acceptance that increased motivation may have played some role in such dramatic improvement, but most will claim that intense concentration on exam preparation, without the "distraction" of learning for life, is the reason. Students who cannot afford such full-time tuition (note, not education) will pressure their parents and a fortune will be spent on buying textbooks that promise to help maximise exam 'techniques'.

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