Thanks to Harriet Swain (Working Knowledge, December 2), I now know how to go about preparing exam papers.
Read article on exam preparation: five minutes. Reread last year's exam to refresh memory: five minutes. Check the intended learning outcomes: 15 minutes. Draft essay titles: 45 minutes. Skim-read lecture notes to check the focus of the questions: two hours. Redraft: 15 minutes.
Refer to legislation on discriminatory language: 30 minutes. Redraft: ten minutes. Remove passive tense constructions: five minutes. Remove use of the term "discuss": five minutes. Simplify questions to avoid complex answers (think of my marking load): ten minutes. Find a colleague to test the questions: 15 minutes. Redraft: 15 minutes.
Total time: four hours, 55 minutes. Workload allocation: one hour.
Solution: use last year's paper...?