Head to head: an argument in favour of capping repeat exams at 40%

So since last year, if you have to repeat an exam in NUI Galway in the summer, the best result you can get is a bare pass, 40%.

And this is only fair. The repeat exams are a safety net to stop people having to repeat a year, or fail a course. But they were never meant to be a get out of jail free card for people who didn’t feel like putting the work in during the year.

Don’t pretend that isn’t a thing. Listen to a few conversations near exam time and within ten minutes you’ll hear someone say: “Sure, I can always repeat in August.” Usually in the context of a humble brag about how little study they’ve done – or in relation to a mad gamble on what topics will come up.

Laziness was never meant to be the determining factor behind repeating. Nor is opportunism: “Yes, I could probably pass this exam but I bet I could do better on a different paper.” Does anyone really think that the college was unaware of how the system was being abused?

So many of these people are repeating two, three, or four exams every year. When someone’s name comes up on the roster that often it’s going to imply fault on their part rather than a series of unfortunate exams.

Using the repeats in this fashion is unfair to the people who actually studied during the year, even with classes and work and whatever else is taking up their time. That pretty much takes away the usual excuses people bring up, some variant on “I was busy”. Well, so is everyone else, and everyone that came through the college before you. But they managed, so why can’t you?

Having capped results in the repeats provides a more accurate picture of the work you did in college overall. If a person can go through a year doing little to nothing, but still ace their exams by studying during the summer when they’ve time, then it muddies the waters.

It makes it harder to tell apart, by results, which people worked and clawed for their grade, and which breezed though. If an employer is ever looking at a transcript and sees 40% on the dot come up multiple times, then it tells more about that person’s work ethic than anything else.

Hopefully, capping is having a deterrent effect, the same as any other punishment. If someone knows that come August the best they’ll be able to get for €295 is a pass then it should encourage them to work harder. Seeing as how the library and reading room filled up first thing in the morning last May, or else never really emptied, then I’d say it’s having some effect.

And if you’re the kind of person who knows all this but still does no study and whines afterwards about the unfairness of it all? You are never going to get that Honour no matter how many times you repeat.

An argument can be made that the measure is unfairly punitive on people who failed their exams despite trying their best. If someone studied and prepared but still failed, is it right to punish them along with people scamming the system?

Well sorry but the same thing I said earlier applies to you as well. When you sit a repeat in August you’re correcting a failure, not pushing up your grade average. A pass is presumably better than what you got in May. It’s still a step up.

And why did you fail in the first place? The question you wanted didn’t come up maybe? Again, this is not a slot machine where you get a payout if all three cherries line up. And even if it were? No casino would give a second spin just because it’s unfair that you didn’t win.

It’s not as if this has been sprung on us all of a sudden. Talk of capping was in the air for several years before being introduced. If there was serious student discontent, that would have been the time to voice it.

A quick look at the factsheet up on NUI Galway’s site shows how the program was introduced gradually to accommodate the change. Last year it didn’t apply to students in their final year, nor will it ever apply to first years undergrads. These are pretty reasonable measures that allow students to become comfortable with the system.

So, suck it up. Rather than spending ridiculous amounts of money in August because you were having too good a time in May, do the work, get the grade.

-By Briain Kelly

Image from Steven S on flickr.

 

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  1. […] “So since last year, if you have to repeat an exam in NUI Galway in the summer, the best result you can get is a bare pass, 40%. And this is only fair. The repeat exams are a safety net to stop people having to repeat a year, or fail a course. But they were never meant to be a get out of jail free card for people who didn’t feel like putting the work in during the year. Don’t pretend that isn’t a thing …” (more) […]

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