Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Students "had hints" before exams

The BBC article - Students "had hints" before exams - was skimmed through by me, however I found this comment of interest:

The same continues at university, some lecturers run "focused revision sessions" while others simply re-use exam papers. I had one exam this year which we noticed the lecturer recycled the papers on a 4 year cycle, so no surprise when I sat down in the exam hall to find what was effectively a carbon copy of the 2004 paper on my desk. It's an absolute joke!
Richard, Bristols


Exams are suffocating, but one thing they make you do is to actually try and understand the material. I like that. What I learnt about logic in two days, I haven't learnt for the past 12 weeks! (Well let us say 7 or 8, since I did try to be a "good student" in the first four weeks of term). If we were given say fortnightly tests during the year to test our understanding, then that would probably do wonders for us. (That is why, apart from this year, I am all for coursework tests.)

If we didn't have exams would there be any other way to get students to study and learn? I can't think of anything on the top of my head, but when we talk about maths exams, oral exams will inevitably pop up. I think that if oral exams are too scary (which they are) then some form of supervision should be there for students. In a meeting last semester, someone said that universities in England are "nanny types". Compared to say other European universities, we have more contact time with out teachers. (I can't remember his exact words so correct me if I am wrong). Supervisions, like in my first year, will give lecturers an opportunity to how much we actually know.

I realise that example classes are there, but they are not the same. They have there benefits if used correctly. Sigh. I suppose I liked supervisions...

Back to exams! How much of the material that I "crammed" in two days did I understand? How much could I post about this minute in time? Well I could possibly post about half of the course, and for the part on proofs and afterwards I will become stuck. (I didn't even bother learning the last five lectures--Schur's Theorem, what the heck?!)

Now in an oral exam, my fractured understanding would be visible and I could do badly. However, in a written exam, where papers are recycled after four or five years, you could score full marks.

I don't think there's anything wrong with revision lectures, because most tend to go through questions on problem sheets or review topics that people ask for. (It varies lecturer to lecturer--some go through the past paper etc).

The point in the comment quoted above that I... erm, "comment on" is the recycling business of papers. Lecturers can be heard saying: "I don't post solutions online because the papers will be recycled soon, and I don't want to find the solutions online." Me being the nutter I am, was actually tempted to post the solutions to such past papers! Yes, they give revision lectures where solutions are given, but I don't like this recycling business. Say I do put the solutions online, and in four years time someone finds them? That's 100% for that person then!

That's enough random babble from me. (I haven't slept yet, but I suppose this was my rant because solutions to past papers aren't available.) Got a damn phone call to make and then sleep.

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