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Harvard's announcement that it will award degrees on the basis of "a general examination in the undergraduate's field of concentration" is a step forward in the field of American university education. To be sure, it is not an original step, for it inaugurates a policy already in force, practiced at Oxford and Cambridge. Nevertheless, Harvard is playing the pioneer on this side of the Atlantic.
To hold a general examination covering the work in which the undergraduate has specialized is such good sense that one wonders why it has not been done long ago. Such an examination would eliminate much criticism of the present examination system with its "cramming," and its emphasis on details so soon forgot. It would be a test of knowledge, of an ability to assimilate the fundamental principles of a science or study. It would be a test of the student's ability to coordinate the information he obtains. In short, it would be a test of education.
With our departmental system we see no reason why Princeton should not adopt a similar plan of examinations. At present the student specialzies in some field during his Junior and Senior years, but obtains his degree as the result of examinations given at the conclusion of each course. An examination could be prepared easily covering the field of each department. Periodical reports and theses could take the place of the frequently criticised semi-annual examinations. --THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN.
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