As was said in Chapter 1, students often approach staff quite late on in their degree programme, frequently just before final exams, and say that they ‘need’ an Upper Second degree. They are then asked what they have done to ensure this and the answer is ‘nothing’! It can never be stated too often that what you get out of your degree will reflect what you put into it, and this is particularly so in respect of exams. Why is this? The answer is that exams are a highly artificial form of assessment. It will be rare in real life that you have to work just with what you can remember on a problem you have not seen before and come up with a convincing answer in a very restricted timeframe. Yet this is what exams do. So why do we have them? Partly it is tradition. In the past assessments were examinations because requiring people to produce answers in a designated space and time meant that the examiners could be sure the candidates had produced the answers and not got them from elsewhere. Some academics are now re-emphasising this because of the availability of bought assignments.
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