LETTER: Case for exams

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Case for exams

Sir: Bidisha ("Dreaming spires come tumbling down", 20 August) suggests that Oxbridge is still dominated by the "boys at the top" who insist on pointless, crammed exams rather than the obviously superior method of examination by dissertation. Perhaps I could rephrase her question.

Perhaps she thinks constructing a clear, rational argument backed up with source quotations out of thin air under pressure of time and exhaustion is somehow easier than writing 10,000 words over weeks or months of paraphrased arguments from books on Beowulf.

Oxbridge has made concessions in almost every subject to the demands, mostly from female students, for continual assessment and coursework rather than final exams. But the old system should remain available too. There will always be some students - yes, they may even be male - who will produce better results under examination conditions. Why should that achievement be denigrated, or denied them, because others find it too hard?


Faringdon, Oxfordshire