「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


A world of tests

By Kip A. Cates


Every year, students around the globe sit down to take examinations. The basic purpose of an exam is to evaluate one's knowledge or ability. Math tests check how well students know mathematics. Driving tests check how well you can drive a car.

There are six basic types of exams. The first type is the true or false test. This consists of sentences which are marked "T" (if true) or "F" (if false). An example would be:

The capital of Japan is Tottori City. True or false?

With this test, there's a 50-50 chance of getting the correct answer.

The second type is the multiple choice exam. These are more difficult than true or false tests. They consist of questions each of which has several answers. An example would be:

When is Mr. Cates' birthday? (a) January 19 (b) May 24 (c) October 7

If there are three possible answers, there's a 33 percent chance of getting the right one. (The correct answer is May 24!)

The third type is the essay test. These require students to answer a question by writing a composition. Sometimes the time is short so students have to write quickly. If their essays are well organized with good ideas, they get a good mark. Here's an example:

Write an essay explaining the causes of World War II.

The fourth type is the open book exam. These allow students to bring books into the classroom to help do the test. I once had an open book exam in linguistics for my M.A. course in England. The smartest students brought along five books. I brought 10. Some students brought 20!

The fifth type of test is the take-home exam. These are tests that students take away and do at home. They usually consist of essay questions that require a lot of thinking. I still remember the take-home exam I had for my anthropology class in Canada. We took the test home Friday night, worked on it all weekend, then handed it in Monday morning. It was nice to work at home, have time to think and sometimes take a break to go jogging, watch TV or have coffee!

The sixth type of test is the oral exam. For these, students give a speech on a topic, then answer questions from the teacher. Oral exams are quite common in Europe. When my mother was studying in France, she had an oral exam in political science. Each student chose a topic at random, then gave a speech in front of five professors. You can imagine how stressful this was. One of her classmates was so nervous that he fainted and was taken to hospital!

What about the future of exams? Will they all be electronic? Or will tests disappear when we learn how to download knowledge into people's brains? Only time will tell!



The Japan Times ST: February 7, 2014

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版