An exam by any other name

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 28 September 2006

I see that yesterday the Labour Party announced that unsupervised GCSE coursework is to be abandoned, in order to stop people cheating by using the internet.

I initially couldn't work out if that devalued my GCSEs, which I took in the first year they were offered. On the one hand it is obvious the government is saying that pupils can't be trusted to work on their own, and since I worked unsupervised, I may have cheated.

On the other hand, the governement puts the blame fairly and squarely on the internet - and I didn't have access to that when I was doing my coursework, so maybe my exam results are now more valuable.

Then again, I had access to books, and my teachers didn't have access to search engines which would allow them to correctly match whole paragraphs against an index of billions of documents for possible plagarism, so maybe it would have been easier to cheat and get away with it in the 'good old days'.

One thing is for sure in my mind though - supervised coursework in classroom conditions isn't coursework, it is simply an exam that isn't held in May or June.

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