Plausible reasons to be fearful 1

April 22, 2005

Putting university candidates through multiple-choice tests ("Exam boards unveil SAT rival", April 15) to determine their "potential" marks a new phase in the degradation of education in this country.

Thinking is not a "skill" detachable from the learning discipline in which it is embedded, not even in general terms such as mathematical or verbal reasoning. The use of multiple-choice style is open to very serious objections: the "thinking" such tests require is of a limited kind, and not suitable at all to any form of higher education.

Worse, they depend to a large extent on sheer chance. Such testing wipes out the need for young people to acquire any education at all.

As the A level has ceased to be a suitable discriminator for well-qualified candidates, it needs enhancement, not abolition. I suggest universities invite high-fliers to submit extended essays with the guarantee of an interview in order to defend their views.

Nigel Probert
Gwynedd

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