Cancellation of first year maths exams.

Cancellation of first year maths exams.

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Maths Representives started this petition to Durham University

Whilst other universities such as Oxford, Warwick and many more have chosen to cancel their 1st year exams, Durham sticks out like a sore thumb.


The current method of examination for first years is an alternative copy of the original test, one made for bookwork. A 48 hour window is open and you must complete the test in 3H, this allows for cheating, there is no doubt about it (smartest in your group does it, passes it along, improving and checking as you go along) their solution that they suggest to the cheating issue is random and targeted vivas, which given some notes you will easily be able to persuade any examiners reading that you knew the content, of which you could actually might not have known. The random vivas is especially strange, if you have issues with talking, or going through your work (which could take weeks to mark, therefore you can’t actually remember what you did) you could be flagged for cheating, when you have not. The test becomes more of “do you have the friends for it" rather than “do you know the maths".


You could argue to up the bell curve, but then this actually encourages cheating, as the only way to get one of those high marks, that you would have achieved otherwise is to also cheat. You could randomise the questions but then this means some students get more tricky questions than others. Again, unfairly disadvantaging you.


Following from this, if you have issues with working from home, whether that is; poor or no internet, background noise and/or distractions, not a suitable place to work i.e. a desk, or if your family is dying from the current pandemic, the university suggests a deferral to a date where that they cannot confirm whether university will continue. Still struggling? Cannot work from home? Tried the deferral? Retake the year. (I am assuming retake the year also means add on the additional debt, rather than resetting it).


Surely, it would be better for exams to be cancelled. We are still advised and encouraged to revise, while the original exam papers are released as practice. This takes a lot of pressure from the first-year students where the exams are “sort of formative" where the mark we get, does not actually count towards our degree.


For further years, where this cancellation is not an option, surely having more teachers, tutors, professors, lecturers etc. that would be originally marking the 1st year papers, at your disposal can be used for more efficient marking for where it actually matters and counts towards your degree is a better outcome too.

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