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Band 9 Essay about the Merits and Demerits of Written Examinations


Many people believe that formal “pen and paper” examinations are not the best method of assessing educational achievement.
Discuss this view and give your own opinion.

Band 9 essay sample

While it is true that there has been some path-breaking research in education, academic achievements are still assessed using the old fashioned ‘pen and paper’ exams. Many people believe that this is a flawed method. I don’t fully agree with them.

Paper based written examinations have their flaws. The biggest problem with the traditional examinations is that they only assess the performance of the student on the day of the exam. As a result a bright student who couldn’t prepare well for the exam due to reasons that were beyond their control will get a poor grade. This is unfair. If the student performed well throughout the year in class tests and other informal assessments, there is no justification for giving them a poor grade just because they failed to perform well in one examination. Written examinations also encourage mugging. Parents and teachers force students to learn answers by heart with the sole objective of getting a good score. Many of these students don’t understand the concepts and yet they get good marks. They won’t be able to answer the same questions if you ask them a few days later. This kind of learning will benefit neither the student nor the society.

An alternative solution is to use a method of continuous evaluation. Schools should monitor the performance of students from day one. They should also use a variety of parameters to determine the merit of each student. Unfortunately, this method also has its flaws. In most cases, teachers and schools try to manipulate the results with the objective of getting great results for their school. Education is a highly competitive sector and every school wants to get better results than other schools. So in this scenario if schools are entrusted with the task of grading their students, we cannot expect the results to be impartial.

Perhaps a better solution is to use written examinations in tandem with continuous evaluation. This will ensure that good students will get the grades they deserve even if they fail to perform well on exam day.

To conclude, the traditional written examination has its flaws. Other methods have their flaws too. In my opinion, the government and the schools should use a variety of methods and parameters to assess the calibre of their students.

(380 words)

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