Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 1. March 3 1968
The exam farce
The exam farce
Authority looks ludicrous in the light of its troubles with exams over the last few months.
In one subject, because of an administrative mistake, all students last year saw the second paper on the day of the first. This was considered disastrous — the paper they wrongly saw was useless and had to be reset and reprinted!
The second incident concerns the eighteen men of the University Council, some of them among the busiest men in Wellington.
They recently spent a whole day sitting in solemn session to hear evidence as to whether some student had cheated in the final exams last year. For reasons they will not release (in order to keep the student's identity secret) it was decided he had.
It can be accepted without reservation that the Council came to a correct finding on the facts because, except in being closed to the public, the hearing was held with the strictest safeguards of legal proceedings, and because the Council would certainly not have wanted to come to the decision it did come to.
But on coming to this decision that he had cheated they proceeded to decide that he should be effectively excluded from the University for this year. This student is apparently one of the few who has taken the Only rational view of exams — the view that they are unpleasant hurdles with no relation whatever to academic activities and to be overcome by any available means.
Dishonesty is hardly relevant, with whatever distaste one looks at it.
The final story begins with a lecturer who caused a disturbance by telling some of the students of Political Science I rather more of what to expect in finals than is customary. The extreme distress of those students who were not fortunate enough to be acquainted with the particular gentleman is a measure of the ridiculous importance (necessarily) placed in exams by the candidates.
The corrective action so very generously taken was no more than should be taken in every exam (so long as the exam system is retained). Granny must be made to accept that no student should fail because of the examination.
In all cases where the results of the exam conflict with the record of the student, the record should prevail.
Better still, when the student's record is adequate he should not have to waste time with exams. This is administratively quite feasible. It requires only that the function of terms be reversed. Those who get a satisfactory aggregate of marks in essays and various types of tests throughout the year should be exempt from sitting finals. It is those who fail who must be given the "privilege" of sitting.
This will not solve all the problems of exams, but it seems to be the only solution with some chance of implementation, and it makes the situation open to further changes.—W.K.L.