With mid-year examinations less than three weeks away and with the time at hand when the heads of the various departments should be preparing questions, one might stop and wonder how an examination is created, and what is more to the student's interest, how it is corrected. Any haphazard method of organizing the little white sheet that is to test the interpretation of knowledge gained and assimilated over the period of four months is as much to be lamented as a similar method of estimating the worth of that interpretation. Although it is quite easy to ask and correct questions in mathematics and the sciences, it is difficult in the arts to originate questions that will cover a subject thoroughly and intelligent, and to mark these by a definite set of standards that will give each student full justice.
Those departments not aware of the importance of an examination which will force the student to think, not to respond automatically with a catalogue of facts, and which will be marked by fair rules would learn much by looking at the methods of the History and Economics departments. In Economics A, for example, two or three meetings of the twenty odd instructors are held to work out questions and rough answers. They are especially concerned with the kind of answer they will get from the student and form their questions on this basis. The department rightfully prides itself on the "quality" type of question, which gives the able student a chance to write an original answer and to show his ability. Immediately after the examination these men convene once more to set up a list of answers not exclusive nor absolute, for latitude is needed to make up for variations in the approach to a question, to allow for unanticipated points or conditions. To prevent discrimination, the papers are corrected blind.
In other large elementary courses the standards of formulation and correction of questions should be adjusted to a general level. In some English courses the mark is determined by the end impression, not by the perfection of all the answers, so it is to the student's advantage that his name be known to the correcter. But in large courses in other fields where examinations are not marked blindly there is apt to exist injustice; knowing the owner of a paper, an instructor is influenced by personal feeling. At all times, however, a grade is subject to the correcter's whim and mood of the moment.
Despite the fact that it is impossible to establish concrete standards in every arts course, a high degree of correlation between teaching and examining can be diffused over the University, so that an examination will be made as intelligently and corrected as intelligently, as the course is taught. Each teacher should give thought to the questions in an examination and to the manner in which he will judge answers to those questions.