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EXAMINATIONS OR MEMORY TESTS?

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The communication printed on another page concerning the recent mid-year examination in English 2 makes interesting reading. A three-hour test with 61 sub-divisions can hardly be called typical of Harvard examinations, nevertheless it does represent a type of examinations only too common in the College at present.

It is such examinations as this that are primarily responsible for the prevalent undergraduate conviction that high marks in College do not necessarily represent any particular intellectual attainments, but are merely proof of a considerable development of the faculty of memory. That there is some justification for this belief is evident from the fact that with an average of less than three minutes allotted to each question (as was the case in the examination mentioned above), nothing but a rapid penmanship and an excellent memory would be of use to a student in the acquisition of a high mark. For it is obviously impossible to expect men to give evidence of original thought of even the most elementary nature on 61 different topics within three hours.

The prime object of a college education is commonly said to be the development of the ability to think logically and constructively. If this be true, examinations which call for something more than mere extensive knowledge of isolated facts are a far truer basis for grading students than are memory tests.

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