Here, in India we have a large number of centralised exams. Everyone in school has to go through two centralised 'board exams' one in Class X and one at the end of school in Class XII.
Most universities also have centralized assessment. Thus even though classes are held seperately in a number of colleges, the year-end exam is a centralized exam conducted by the University

I feel that it is essential to bring out the problems in centralized assessment. There is one primary advantage and that is that a centralized exams serves as a leveller with everyone being graded on the same scale. There are a few disadvantages and I feel they far outweigh the advantages.
1)Centralized exams, since they have to be for everybody, are necessarily set at the level of the lowest common denominator. Thus they are essentially simplistic in nature, and this has the very serious effect of preventing discrimination between an average student and a good student. With a simplistic exam, an average or even below average student can do as well as a brilliant student if not better. This is something which is also present in the SAT , for example.
2)Centralised exams, involve a lot of answer scripts, and this means a lot of people to check these papers(This is not a problem with the SAT which is completely objective). This ensures that the quality of correction goes down drastically. Thus, in a centralised exam, it would be suicidal to adopt a new approach to solving a problem. Chances are that the examiner would cut it out because he just has so many scripts to correct that he cannot afford to spend too much time.

I feel, thus, that the system of centralized exams discourages originality and is extremely counterproductive. I'm sure such systems exist in other countries also, and I would like people to put down their views below this.

In the Netherlands we have a combined system.

Upon leaving primary school, children take a centralized test, the CITO-toets; both this test and their normal classroom grades, plus the teacher's personal assessment, are used in determining which school type they can progress to.

Final exams for secondary school consist of nationwide exams (the centraal schriftelijk), plus a set of non-centralized exams taken through the year (the schoolonderzoeken). Both account for 50% of the total score. The resulting scores are often looked at in determining continued education for the student, but they are rarely (if ever) used as a formal entry level entrance criterion; instead, access to popular studies such as medicine is determined by chance.

Some years ago, we had a widely publicized case of a student with almost unprecedented exam scores who wanted to go to medical school, but failed the lottery two years in a row. The system didn't make an exception even for her. Note that practically all of our educational institutions are state owned or state funded and participate in this selection system.

This case brought some discussion on how unfair this system is, leveling the field at the expense of the students with special talent, but few participants tried to make a serious case to have the system abolished. I don't expect to see any changes any time soon. Meanwhile, grades and centralized tests do play an important informal role in school selection, as indicators of the student's ability.

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