Anorak News | Testing Times

Testing Times

by | 19th, August 2003

‘READERS of the Times will know that Libby Purves has long argued against examinations and footling tests. How? Because the woman herself tells us she has.“I have often tried your patience with rants against examinations, and mournings for a generation plied with footling tests,” she says.

However, this morning the great Ms Purves rushes to the defence of one examination, the much-derided GCSE, and one footling test, the proposed Oxbridge entrance exam.

But what of A-levels? For further discussion on that subject, we turn to the Independent, where a former chief schools inspector wants students to have to write a dissertation to help universities identify the brightest and the best.

Mike Tomlinson, who is currently conducting a review of secondary education for the Government, says he is considering ‘a challenging piece of work which would go across subject boundaries”.

‘It would be a single piece of work taken at the age students take A-levels,’ he said. ‘I would like the universities involved in setting some of the topics and marking them.”

So let’s get this straight – because pretty well everyone gets straight As in their A-levels these days, we need another exam to separate the intellectual wheat from the chaff (which was what the A-levels were originally supposed to do).

When everyone begins to get top marks for this dissertation, then perhaps we could introduce another exam to differentiate them…and so on and so on.

Then, in a few years time some bright spark (having just achieved 34 As in his A-levels) will pipe up as he prepares to sit his eleventh exam of that day.

“Sir, why didn’t they just make A-levels a bit harder?”’

Posted: 19th, August 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink