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Are Handwritten Exams on Course for the History Books?

Pens & pencils have been used in the exam room since time immemorial. In relatively recent times things have started to change with some institutions offering students a choice between writing or typing.

A complete move to computerised exams does have its naysayers, some schools have already faced criticism for demanding that parents buy expensive tablets for pupils to use in lessons. Others fear that pupils will not develop handwriting skills, becoming too reliant on technology & spell checkers.

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Quotes like these do nothing to allay the fears of those that have heard it said that handwritten exams are heading for extinction

  • “Pen & paper exams will be a thing of the past by 2023” - D. Hanson IAPS
  • “Handwritten tests could become a 20th century relic” - OFQUAL
  • “The paper and pencil examination is a thing of the past” - NASBA
  • “Victorian-style handwritten exams will be consigned to history within a decade”

Despite everything it seems that some states in the US have already taken the plunge & parts of Canada have taken steps to adopt an online model for standard tests. One of the latest provinces to announce its participation in online testing is Ontario where they will be phased in from 2016.

Although its acknowledged that some participants in the online changeover have run into a few glitches & inevitably changes will come at a cost, the Ontario province’s Education Quality and Accountability Offices CEO Bruce Rodrigues expects that the several million dollars reportedly set aside for the move to online testing is expected to be recouped largely on savings made including that of printing costs over 5 years.

For those of us in the UK it seems that going online is not on the imminent horizon as whilst the Government exam regulator Ofqual recognise that students are more at ease using a keyboard than writing in many cases, they caution against a sudden move preferring a steady path.

I know I've said it before but as far as I'm concerned there will be an equal place for the keyboard, pen, pencil & paper for the foreseeable future, just my opinion but I like both.

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