It’s very clear to anybody who has ever had the (mis)fortune of doing an exam, that they are far from perfect, and clearly haven’t been developed or even very well thought out at all.
Written exams as we know them have been around for quite some time. Since education in the western world became widespread, we have had written, closed book exams. But what are these exams? What do they test? Intelligence? Commitment? Mental strength? Hard work?
In reality, none of these are tested in written exams as we know them. Take the Irish Leaving Cert, for example. The syllabus involves studying seven subjects intensely for two school years. We go through countless textbooks, take down copious amounts of notes, and most of all, we are supposedly learning. Yet the unusual part is that throughout these two years, despite the fact that we complete countless essays, questions, and tests, these account for nothing.
Instead, the system as we know it involves the age old technique of learning off. We are often handed essays that have been written by the teacher, or even better, by a “subject expert” and then told to go into the exam, and write this essay out word for word. This isn’t a test of intelligence, hard work, commitment, or mental strength. It is merely a test to see who has the ability to learn something completely inconsequential and then spew that out all over a page.