Why a Time-recorded approach to assessment could be the way forward
Sitting in my English Literature exam, frantically scribbling down words that I hoped would resemble a Dr Faustus essay, the fire alarm goes off. Mayhem ensues. All eyes dart nervously from clock to invigilator as we’re instructed to stop writing – but the precious seconds still tick by.
Every single minute I’d spent in school from the age of four had led to three final exams. Six hours that would completely decide my future, six hours to write six essays. And as I helplessly sat slumped in my chair while the fire alarm ate into those six hours, a wave of stress swept over me.
Instead of taking the time to think rationally about what I was going to write, my brain was scrambled with thoughts that there was no way I was going to finish in time.
Then there’s the story of my Media GCSE exam. Media was a subject that I loved, and therefore tended to do quite well in. It suited my creativity and I was determined to do well going into the exam.
I read the questions, looked at the clock – there’s only a few things on earth more intimidating than a clock during an exam – and I panicked. I got so flustered that I thought the exam was an hour and a half like the mock, rather than two hours.
Imagine my surprise as I scribbled my last few sentences down like a maniac with seconds to go, only to find out I had an extra half an hour. The pressure that is put on students, individuals no older than 18, is huge even without the time restraints.
Here at Capp, our aptitude tests incorporate a time-recorded approach rather than a time-limited one. Our algorithm takes into account the speed, accuracy, and difficulty of each question to create the overall score.
We felt that taking away time-limitations in our assessments would ease the pressure on candidates and allow them to perform to their true potential – whilst still taking time into account – and the results back this up.
Feedback shows that 89% of candidates that took our Numerical Reasoning Test felt under less pressure because it is time-recorded rather than time-limited; whilst in our Verbal Reasoning Test, the results showed no significant adverse impact because of the approach.
Meanwhile, as the rest of the world seems to be evolving around the advances in technology, the exam format at GCSE and A-Level remains relatively archaic. In an environment where teachers deliver their lessons electronically, and more and more students are taking notes on laptops and phones, why are exams still the same as they were 30 years ago?
A time-recorded approach to exams could alleviate a lot of – what I believe to be – unnecessary pressure on students. Those who can produce high quality work in a shorter amount of time will still be rewarded, but those who maybe take slightly longer can feel more at ease without a clock bearing down on them.
With the new marking scheme being introduced (grades 1-9 rather than A-F), it’s a great opportunity for the approach to be taken into consideration. An approach that could allow talented students to flourish rather than get flustered.