Laurie Taylor column

June 11, 2004

Right. Candidate 10384. Maureen, the marks please and the average.

Sixty-two, 65, 61, 64, 62, 61, 63, and 66. And the average is 63.

Excellent. A pretty solid upper second. All agreed? On to Candidate 12173. Yes, Maureen.

Sixty-one, 66, 65, 65, 63, 64, 65, and 67. And the average is... wait for it... yes, it's a thrilling 64.5.

Maureen, try not to be facetious. It doesn't suit you. Right. Under rule 42.3 we round that up to 65. A very solid upper second. Candidate 14862.

Excuse me, Professor Lapping.

Yes, Dr Quintock.

We've been sitting here for three hours, calculating averages and awarding classes.

It's called the Examiners' Meeting, Dr Quintock.

I'm aware of that, Professor Lapping. I'm also aware that we have so far processed 68 students. Seven have been awarded firsts. The remaining 61 have all been given either pretty solid, solid or very solid upper seconds. Surely, if the primary function of examinations is to differentiate between candidates, couldn't this be regarded as prima facie evidence that something was seriously wrong?

Nonsense, Dr Quintock. You're clearly overlooking the manner in which pedagogic advances such as continuous assessment now allow everyone to do well. When essays can be submitted and corrected over and over again we suddenly discover that nearly every student is of solid upper-second quality. Presumably, you don't want to go back to the bad old marks of yesteryear. Yes, Maureen. If we could now have the marks for Candidate 14862.

Twelve, 88, 19, 77, 26, 95, 3, and 102.

Maureen. I've told you before. It simply doesn't suit you.

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