Letter: Exam results

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The Independent Culture
Sir: All assessment systems make mistakes and are unfair (Letters, 22, 25 August). Different systems are unfair to different people.

The advantages of "big bang" final exams are that all students take the same papers under the same (external) conditions, cheating is difficult and what is assessed (fallibly) is what the student has become.

Continuous assessment reduces (peak) stress but can favour students who come from academic backgrounds and enjoy access to expensive aids (books, word-processors etc) throughout their course. Ceteris paribus, it advantages those who change the least.

Education and assessment are often incompatible. I prefer to be a continuous educator rather than a continuous assessor - with all of the two-way pressure that entails.

P K BURGESS

Department of Psychology

Dundee University

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