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Higher discursive - exemplar - exams Document Transcript

  • 1. Candidate Script 5 "ARE EXAMINATIONS BENEFICIAL TO EDUCATION?" "Education is an admiral thing, but it is well to remember, from time to time, that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught ...” (Oscar Wilde) Many people believe that the individual is no longer provided with a 'general' education at school, because he is only taught how to pass exams. The examination does motivate a pupil to study the coursework (because he may have a fear of failing), but such importance is placed on the results themselves that it may be argued that the exam grade is the end product of the 'education'. I am going to evaluate the merits of exams, and decide whether there is an alternative method of educating people which places less emphasis on the passing of exams. In the ideal school the course work would not be based around the exams, but would be aimed to encourage the pupils to acquire and develop an intellectual curiosity. The pupils would read books because they would possess a desire to learn and to expand their knowledge. There will not always be exams which encourage the individual to learn or study a subject, so in later life many people will feel it unnecessary to learn out with the requirements of their job/ environment. Therefore, by providing them with a desire to study topics which interest them at school, and by encouraging them to want to learn for themselves it would appear a better preparation for life after full time education. On the other hand, exams do have many benefits. The results can be used as an indication of how an individual is coping with a subject, and can be used to isolate problem areas. They provide a person with an incentive to study and a motivation to reach their maximum capabilities, whilst simultaneously indicating to the teacher how thoroughly a pupil has understood the work.
  • 2. Studies also indicate that only a very small number of candidates - as few as seven percent - suffer from "examination trauma". This means that since fewer people now "freeze" or "go blank" when in the examination situation the exam results are usually a true indication of a pupil's capabilities. Exam results are used to determine entrance into further education- the grades present an accurate assessment of the candidate to the university, college or employer. A simple estimation of intelligence, without exam grades, would fail to determine between marginal differences in intellect. Some pupils actually excel when in they are stretched and pressurised to perform which would mean that a mere "Intelligence Quotation" would not suffice. At school many of the subjects which are taught develop necessary skills and are not solely based around the learning of facts. In the social sciences, ideas are developed, essay writing is improved and evaluation skills are acquired. If a foreign language has been studied, future job prospects both abroad and in our own country are increased and here examinations provide an incentive to learn vocabulary and to study a culture different to our own. Studying the Classics can also improve our understanding of English and Romance languages. The Scottish education system is fairly successful when we consider that the SCE Standard Grades cater for around sixty five percent of candidates in Scotland and the Highers for around thirty percent. However, it is still felt that school fails to provide a rounded education. There are many "youngsters" who feel that material which is not included in the examination syllabus is not worth learning. This as a misunderstanding of educational values and I will examine where these flaws lie. English should be regarded as an opportunity to study poetry, grammar and to learn about the many merits of literature. There are, however, others who look at this concept differently. They only read when a review is imposed upon
  • 3. them and they treat reading as an unnecessary task. This is not an example of an 'educated' pupil. They do not understand that it should be their own thoughts on and interpretations of a text which are considered important, rather than simply handing in a review to gain the highest mark. In foreign languages a pupil will often feel discouraged to express what he actually feels because this is difficult and ambitious. He instead structures an essay which comprises expressions from his vocabulary note book, and rarely says what he actually feels. By regurgitating these relatively 'meaningless' essays, he not only learns little but is not studying the language in its true context. In the cases above it would appear that the school suppresses a pupil's creative thought, removes his ability to think freely and minimalises self- confidence when he is being tested on untaught areas hardly a preparation for life 'apres' school. I feel it would, however, be impractical to abolish exams completely because they have many merits, and when this was tried in some American states it proved unsuccessful- the pupils actually lost the incentive to study. General assessments are also flawed because they often result in the more diligent pupil, and possibly not the most intelligent, doing best. A possible solution would be to involve the pupils in what they study and to encourage them to develop more of an interest in the course work. Less emphasis should be placed on the examinations, to prevent the pupils 'cramming' and 'regurgitating' facts which will be soon forgotten after the exam. In conclusion I feel the pupil should learn through experience and should acquire a knowledge of the course work at the same time. If the pupil develops an understanding of how to apply this knowledge and possesses a desire to learn for himself out with the curriculum, then it can be said that he
  • 4. has received an education. Assessment commentary on candidate script 5 Content In this piece of argumentative writing, the candidate sets out to "evaluate the merits of exams, and decide whether there is an alternative method of educating people". Broadly, this purpose is achieved, through a range of relevant references both to the benefits of examinations and to their negative impact on "general education". In all of this, there is an underpinning thoughtfulness. Disappointingly, however, the argument is not carried through to a clear proposal of alternatives and, for that reason, loses force. Structure The essay is structured in an acceptable manner with reasonably secure linkage and signposting taking the reader through a logical pattern of comment and evidence. Impact, however, is limited - owing mainly to the relative thinness of detail, the rather basic treatment and the lack of real skill in using evidence. Expression The formal, almost 'official' tone of the piece is quite fitting and there are occasional signs of commitment to an original stance - well enough supported by apt word choices and sentence structures. Technical Accuracy Criterion satisfied. This essay has the potential to rise significantly above the standard required to achieve the outcome at Higher, but lack of variation in technique and of a sustainable conclusion undermines its overall effectiveness. Award: Higher, Grade C