Why I Don’t Like Essay-type Exams

When you enroll in a university and sign up for a class, you expect the professor to do his job, that is, to lecture and give you exams from which your grades can be based on. Simple. But some professors don’t want to make it that simple. They won’t let you finish the semester having taken only multiple choice questions exams in which you can pass just out of luck. So they created this thing called essay.

Essays are one heck of a debate amongst students and educators primarily because they make the grading subjective. It is never black and white. It will be all up to the teacher. No questions asked. As a Science major, I personally love essays as a type of exam. I think, more than anything, it checks up on your degree of bookishness, if you will. You go beyond the world of memorization and actually test yourself. But sometimes, professors take advantage of this.

I have a professor who just can’t distinguish between personal feelings and work. The gist is, now, we no longer enjoy the sight of each other because of a long list of irreconcilable differences and disagreements (I believe he’s a professor who can’t take constructive criticism, he thinks I’m a defiant for always questioning him, go figure) but somehow we still manage to act in a civilized manner if necessary. Or so I thought. Recently, I realized that this was all an act. He does take things personally.

I saw the results of a recent exam. It wasn’t just a multiple-choice type of exam, nor an essay type but BOTH. I guess the outcome is pretty much obvious because I’m writing this entry now. Yes. I got a low grade. The bummer there is that I knew that I didn’t deserve to be graded that low. I did well on the multiple-choice section and was (as I have always been) confident about my essay. Because I love essays. I am generally good at writing them. And content-wise, I was sure I knew what I was talking about because I did well on the objective part. It’s all a matter of expressing your knowledge in words, instead of memory. But what could have been an impressive grade turned into a mediocre and study-harder-next time one. Why was I low? One answer: essay.

Why do I know that the grading was influenced by his unprofessionalism? I’ve never gotten a grade THAT low in any of his essays in the past. EVER. And I have been his student for almost two years. I hate comparing myself but for the sake of proving that this circumstance is rather suprising and rare, I will say that the students who usually don’t do well in essays got a much higher grade. I’ve been with these students for the past two years too and now all of a sudden, they’re ninjas at writing and I just lost competency. I call bullshit.

So now, things have changed. I’m now an advocate of objective exams. Essays give professors too much power to either lift or drop ANYONE. It gives professors who don’t fight fair power.

Objective exams might only reflect the good memory of a student but at least they protect students from abusive professors.

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