Exams do not test real ability

7th June 2013 at 01:00

The US researchers are right to stress the benefits of competitive team sports in educational development ("School sport puts the 'A' in team, study finds", 31 May). Teamwork to a specified time schedule is important for students who are carrying out problem-solving and practical work.

Success in formal exams and tests is not, however, necessarily the same as real intellectual development. In my experience as a student and teacher, success in exams is sometimes about being able to guess the questions that are likely to come up, rather than overall knowledge of a subject or discipline. In the English-speaking world, there is a long tradition of learning outside school. Industrialists such as Josiah Wedgwood and Henry Ford had little formal schooling, yet both had a profound understanding of engineering and science, people and human institutions. I think that examinations are one method, but not the only one, for assessing people's practical and intellectual abilities.

Shouvik Datta, teacher of English as a foreign language, Kent.

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