Writing Task 2: Continuous assessment vs. formal examinations

DISCLAIMER: 

1) I AM NOT AN IELTS EXAMINER; 2) PLEASE VISIT THE WEBSITES OF BRITISH COUNCIL AND IDP FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE IELTS; 3) THIS ESSAY WAS WRITTEN WHEN I WAS STILL A STUDENT

PLEASE DO NOT COPY MY WORK.

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SAMPLE QUESTION: Only formal examinations, written or practical, can give a clear picture of students’ true knowledge and ability at university level. Continuous assessment like course work and projects are poor measures of student ability.

How far do you agree with this latter statement?

SAMPLE ANSWER:

There is much debate nowadays about which evaluation tools are more effective in determining the level of a student’s performance. Some people believe that formal tests are better measures of a learner’s abilities and knowledge. However, there are those who assert that continuous assessment tools such as take-home projects give a clearer picture of a student’s performance. I believe that a combination of both methods are useful means to evaluate students’ knowledge and abilities.

There is merit in the assertion of some individuals that workbook assignments are able to better assess students’ learning ability. This is especially true for those learners enrolled in courses like medicine or law, where assessment of knowledge cannot be gauged in one sitting. The range of topics for these subjects are too extensive that a single and lengthy examination is not flexible enough and is insufficient to evaluate students’ performances. Therefore, continuous assessments such as projects and case presentations are more appropriate for these types of learners.

An obvious setback of these sort of evaluation methods, however, is that take-home work and assignments are often done in private and out of class, and can therefore be easily copied. Some students also rush their homework in order to meet the deadline, and this may compromise the quality of their output. Hence, continuous assessments alone may not be reliable tools to evaluate students’ performances.

Meanwhile, formal examinations have several advantages as well. Exams are often conducted in classrooms where a professor is present. This reduces the chances of students copying the works of each other, thus, accurately measuring their capabilities without outside help. Aside from that, formal examinations are done in an environment that is usually conducive to learning, such as study halls or the library, so students are able to concentrate, compared to other places where there are distractions that can significantly affect their performance.

On the other hand, there are disadvantages to formal tests as evaluation tools of students’ abilities. First, since formal examinations are administered in a single sitting, the outcome depends solely on various factors such as the student’s level of health during the exam or their mood. The environment can also be a factor, whether it is comfortable or not. Second, formal examinations cannot adequately cover all lessons taught during the term, therefore, an examination alone is a poor measure of students’ capabilities.

In conclusion, while I agree that formal examinations are useful in evaluating a student’s progress, I believe that it should not be used as a sole gauge for evaluating the performances of students due to its limitations. A combination of both formal tests and course work is more suitable for learners.

WORD COUNT: 400+ words

SCORE: 8

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