Oral exam timing

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about how important it was for students to be assessed by the same criteria. This is especially critical at Catholic University where I teach in Korea because each class is graded on a curve. For example in a typical class of 20 students I can give 5 As, 6 Bs, 6 Cs, and that means I must give 4 Ds and Fs.

So students are competing with each other for a limited number of high grade. Now as final exams approach, the university intends to do what it has been doing for a while. During Finals week, the written exams would be given on the first meeting and then the oral exams would be given.

The university allows teachers to begin oral exams the class before finals week; most teacher chose to do this because they would then finsih the semester sooner. I stopped doing that because I noticed that students who took the oral exam earlier (the class before exam week) did worse than students who took it a week later (after the written exam). It made sense; students with an extra week to study (say two weeks instead of one) will do better. Making all students take the oral exams during final exam week was more fair.

The course has been reduced from three class hours to two class hours each week. That means we meet only for two hours during final exam week. 1 hour for the written test and 1 hour for the oral test. But the oral tests take two hours (to do all the students in a class). This year I will be forced to assess some students a week apart because classes meet only two hours.

I’ve explined this to my boss and asked to do the written test the week before finals week so that all students do oral exams during finals week. But I have a bad feeling that this won’t be possible and that I’ll ahve to assign some bad grades based on a students luck in getting a good exam time rather than a students English.

Filed Under: Tests and assessment

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