Editorial – Testing, Testing!

Well, it’s over. The election is done, the referendum is done, and life returns back to as normal as it gets for the student union. You can find the results of both of these on the AUSU front page, or you can just skip down to the “Did You Know?” piece in this week’s The Voice Magazine for the short version.

Also this week, you can find a very informative article by Barbara Lehtineimi on exam invigilation. Many AU students are located in major urban centres, with the largest group being located in Calgary, so this might not seem terribly useful, but if you’ve had the unfortunate occasion to go to an exam in the new Bow Valley College centre here in Calgary, the notion that having to go to the defined exam centre is only preferred, not mandatory, could be a godsend.

While I don’t know the conditions at the Edmonton testing centre (any Edmonton readers out there please write and tell me, I’d love to hear about it) I know that here in Calgary, the restrictions are almost draconian. Beyond the obvious restrictions of no outside books or notes, in Calgary you are not allowed to bring in anything beyond your writing instruments and exam materials. No, you can’t take in your jacket or sweater unless you intend to wear it throughout the exam. No, your cell-phone cannot go in with you, even if you put it on vibrate only and are worried about some sort of family emergency. You’re in an accounting course? You’re allowed to take in the calculator they’ve provided you with. That’s it. No back-up calculator allowed, so make sure your battery isn’t low and that you don’t drop it while you’re in there. And forget about your purse. That doesn’t come in either. They don’t even allow you to bring in a drink, which I find particularly stupefying. Even if I did carefully peel off the label, write an answer or three on it, and then painstakingly glue it back on, it’s water. It’s clear. You’d probably be able to see it if I’d done that! Never mind bringing in a can, I don’t even know how that could be used to hide answers.

Now, you can store all of this stuff in the locker outside the room, but they don’t have locks, and AU doesn’t supply any. AUSU used to, but apparently too many of them were having to be removed for the program to continue. Alternatively, if you ask nicely, they will allow you to store some items in the invigilator office on the other side of the glass, but the invigilator is not going to know if someone is going through your bag or their own once they leave the exam, and since they’re stored on the floor, neither will you. All of these concerns just add to the tension students are already feeling when they go to take an exam, so for some the final straw is learning that the exam door is locked.

It’s the type of lock that allows you to open it from the inside, but for people who are already nervous about having to take an exam, not being able to take a drink while they do it, and leaving their stuff where they can’t see it, the idea that that lock might malfunction, even if it’s a remote chance, is simply enough to make them decide it’s not worth it. I know people who choose courses based on trying to avoid AU invigilated exams, and people who’ve dropped courses because, even though they knew the material, the stress of the exam room and regulations were too much for them to handle.

So the idea that maybe, even if we’re in Calgary, we can choose another invigilation centre, perhaps even takes a bottle of water into an exam, is an idea worth knowing.