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Using the essay as an assessment technique

Colin Cowie
Abstract: 

The main reason for the use of essays is probably the belief, usually unwarranted, that essay  tests do a better overall job than objective tests of measuring educational achievement. The argument goes something like this. A major purpose of education is to prepare individuals to interact effectively with others in the realm of ideas; the basic tool of interaction is language; the student performs by speaking and writing; the essay is a sample of a student's performance, hence it provides a direct measure of educational achievement. The argument may be valid if the subject is English, but it is debatable when attainments in other subject areas are being considered.

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