You can’t just Google the exam answers

Using Google in exams would defeat the purpose
Using Google in exams would defeat the purpose

By Fiona Dobie

Somehow we are five months into 2015 and May has come around already.

That means for high school pupils around the country it’s time for exams.

As a teenager it was a time of dread.

I hated exams, although that’s probably stating the obvious as I don’t actually know anyone who enjoyed them.

For me the only plus sides about exam time were it was most likely sunny outside - okay not so good when you are stuck in a smelly school hall, which had the curtains shut, and was stifling hot (heating no doubt left on) and you were trying to rack your brains to remember that Shakespeare quote or the mathematical equation needed to find the speed of the car in the question.

However, it did mean that study leave could be spent outside trying to get a sun tan while revising the year’s work.

But the best bit about exam time was definitely that it meant the six week summer holiday was just around the corner.

Recently it was reported that the head of an exam board, albeit in England, believed that pupils should be allowed to use internet search engine Google in their exams and that the use of the website in public exams, including A-levels and GCSEs is “inevitable”.

Is it just me or does that defeat what I would consider the point of an exam?

There would be no reason for the student to actually try and learn things throughout the year, or need to revise ahead of the exams.

The only test that would really be taking place in that situation would be how well the student was able to use Google to search online.

The head of OCR, Mark Dawe’s comments said that allowing internet use in exam rooms reflected the way pupils learned and how they would work in future.

And he also said that even with Google students would need a basis of knowledge and would have limited time to conduct searches.

He compared it to the debate about pupils being allowed to have text books in the room with them and how time to actually look something up was in short supply.

Mr Dawe suggests that remembering everything and being able to recall it is not the way the modern world works and that the internet is there to answer people’s questions in everyday life.

But, forgive me, is there not some merit in the skill of being able to learn, hold and maintain information.

Just because there is a system that can assist us in everyday life with things we may not know, doesn’t mean we should always rely solely on that.

And every year it seems there is debate over whether exams are becoming easier - in my opinion allowing the use of Google or any other search engine would give more weight to the dumbing down argument.

But until it is allowed, given the number of changes the education system has gone through even in just the last 15 years since I was at school, judging if exams have become easier is difficult.

With so many different exam styles over the years the possibility of truly comparing difficulties can’t really happen.