Typing of Exams Brings Criticism
Undergraduates who constantly pressure for permission to type their examinations may be quite disappointed if the permission ever comes. A small but uninformed survey has shown that many second-year Law School students, allowed to type their first-year tests, have returned to the undergraduate system.
The first complaint is the noise. The University does not have the space to allow each person to type separately. So, if one hundred people in a course choose to type the final, one hundred people lug typewriters into the same room--the electric people plugging into the wall.
This means silence until everyone has figured out the question, when the silence changes into the patter of 4,300 keys. Sometimes this is sudden: sometimes, gradual, so that each person can know how much of a start the others are getting on him and redouble his own efforts. During a particularly difficult exam two years ago, one student kept typing out patriotic slogans while he figured out the question, to the amusement of his neighbors.
To combat the noise, earplugs are partially effective. The most common are wax stopples, which can be heated and moistened in the palm just before the exam, until they are pliable enough to stuff in the ear. The palm is usually quite effective for this at the time. If the proctor's directions are then muffled, the plug can be twisted until it comes out.
The second difficulty is outlining. In order to keep the question and scratch paper in front of you, it is necessary to shove the typewriter to one side or to change seats. A third possibility, writing while leaning to the left, can be used on shorter tests.
The seats themselves were not designed for typing. Unless a telephone book is placed on the seat, or unless the student is very large, the keyboard is level with his chest. One boy solved this last year by sitting on the desk, but this did not catch on.
But perhaps the biggest hazard of all is a visual one. To look around at the beginning of a test, to see people bringing in apples to munch while they continue typing with one hand, to watch pile after pile of the Yellow Pages, and to look at the friendly stopples protruding from the ears in front, is to reconsider criticism of the undergraduate policy.