Elsewhere in this column there is a copy of an Hour Examination given in English 72 last Friday. The usual objection that examinations are mere regurgitation of facts is totally out of place in this instance. To the contrary, the questions under present consideration are excellent examples of the so called "thinking" type; but such qualities, regardless of their individual excellence, are completely ineffective when there is insufficient time to record these thoughts, as was the case last Friday.
In the first place, if one question is answered well enough there is not time to consider those following. On the other hand, to write upon both in such a limited space of time results in superficiality, the greater evil of the two. The final upshot is that the decision of whether the student has a thorough knowledge of his subject or else is merely slipping through on a wide but varied acquaintance with the questions rests upon the corrector, a situation that is distinctly unfortunate.
Added to this, there is the further objection that too many questions of this sort lend themselves particularly to cramming methods. Judicious tutoring immediately before this examination would have armed the student with enough factual knowledge to enable him to give the impression that he knows his subject but that time forced him to be brief.
If questions such as these were asked in three hour examinations there could be no objection, for they avoid the Scylla of calling forth a mass, of unassimilated fact. Unfortunately this test has gone to the other extreme and fallen into the Charybdis of asking for too much in a limited time, thus emasculating whatever virtue it might have otherwise had. With this glaring defect as a drawback it is still impossible to form a sane opinion of student ability.