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6:02pm on Thursday, 18th November, 2010:

Examination Annoyances


I handed in my CE217 exam paper today, only a day late. I finished it last week, but the internal examiner had to have a look at it too. It's still earlier than most people's exams.

In an effort to standardise its exam formats, the Department (oops, School) has this year resorted to a standard set of (I think) four formats. You download the appropriate rubric and use that in your exam. I went for the one that I always go for, which is what was used when I myself was an undergraduate. In this, there are two sections, A and B. Section A contains one question that you have to do, and section B contains three questions that you have to do two of. Section A itself has six sub-questions, of which you have to do four.

So, basically that's four parts from section A and two questions from section B.

The way this is marked, each question is out of 100. As you answer 3 questions, the overall mark for the paper is out of 300. Therefore, you divide by three to get the final percentage. This makes sense, as otherwise you would be marking in thirds if you wanted three equally-weighted questions.

This year, it changed. This year, some committee or other decided to make the marks that appear next to a question apply to the whole paper, rather than to the question. This means that instead of saying question B1(a) is worth 20 and B1(b) is worth 30 and B1(c) is worth 50, you have to say B1(a) is worth 6.66 and B1(b) is worth 10 and B1(c) is worth 16.66 . Except, you aren't allowed fractional marks, so that means that you can't have three equally-weighted questions. I basically have to mark section A out of 40 (with candidates doing four 10-mark questions) and section B questions out of 30 each.

Well I have to, but I didn't. The rubric I downloaded off the official Sharepoint server was in the old format. The paper I set last year for the reset exam, which is being re-used this year because no-one resat last year, is also in that format. I actually like the format, because it means I can be more nuanced in my marking. Splitting up a section A sub-question into 25 means that students have a shot at getting more marks than if I split it into 10. Likewise, a section B question out of 30 doesn't have the same fidelity as one out of 100 (although in practice I don't mark to the individual point in section B questions, so these questions are less affected).

Anyway, after much discussion I handed in the exam paper with the wrong mark scheme, in the hope that other people also missed the rule change and will have made a similar error. I expect, however, I shall have to revise my paper once I get the time (I still have CE217 assignments to mark).

My offer to put /3 after all the marks in my paper was turned down.

Referenced by Easy Easy Easy Murder.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).