Exams get creative
BY Afedare from 21st Century
Published 2011-06-17

Are your exam weeks all about staying up late, learning textbooks by rote? Do you go from one exam room to another, staring at endless questions on paper after paper?

This format is both boring and exhausting. And students tend to forget what they’ve “crammed” as soon as they leave the exam room.

Fortunately, teachers have recognized the problem and worked out some creative ways to conduct final exams. Here, we interviewed teachers and students to find out how final exams can be made both more enjoyable and successful with some novel methods of study and examination.

The least textbookish

You will be ensured a passing mark in the course if you can give the right answer to one pop quiz question in class.

It sounds like a good deal. But Bai Guiyi, who teaches “An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Culture” at Zhengzhou University played a “trick”: the answers could not be found in textbooks.

Bai may ask students to find the *similarity between the spread of *Buddhism and the spread of *opium to China. He may test their common sense by requiring them to explain sangang wuchang (three *cardinal guides and five constant virtues).

Zhu Weiwei, 20, passed Bai’s pop quiz. But her success was not down to luck. She read books in libraries and watched videos online every day. “My teacher inspired me. I learned that knowledge is not only found in textbooks,” said Zhu.

Bai often linked historical events with current issues. When he lectured about the Three Kingdoms period, he would include discussions about the hotly debated mystery of the tomb of Cao Cao.

Bai explained his reform of the exam’s format: “There is no point in remembering a string of names of historical events. I hope I can encourage students to think about the causes and effects and evaluate them in a bigger picture.”

The most market-oriented

This is one for *budding ad creatives. The clients are not your teacher and classmates; they are executives from the company which gave you your task. And your idea will be turned into a real advertising campaign if it captures your potential client’s imagination.

Junior advertising students at Zhengzhou University are excited about the only chance they’ll have to face professionals in the industry before they start hunting for internships.

While teachers usually praise students’ ideas in order to encourage them, executives from companies are *relentlessly *critical. To prepare for this, the group of Liu Qianqian, 21, has invited other groups to be the judges at weekly *rehearsals.

From field trips to *brainstorming and budgeting all the elements required for a promotion package are included in the exam. The course’s instructor, Yan Jingyi, believes real-life practice is the best format for the exams of majors with a real-world focus.

“The real-life ads campaign exam really helps students when they eventually look for jobs,” said Yan. By way of proof, few students have turned to Yan for help in finding internships since he replaced the old paper tests with the new practical format in 2007.

The most time-consuming

You cannot pass this exam by cramming for it for several nights. Neither can you if you *skip a single class.

The task: growing crops on your piece of land and handing in a report of the process.

Students also have to set aside 20 days of their precious summer vacation to come back to school to *cultivate their crops in the *scorching sun.

The course’s instructor, Li Chengfang, explained that the format of the exam has a simple message: If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Surprisingly, Li’s students appear to enjoy the long and exhausting exam.

(Translator & Editor: Michelle AND Christine )
cultivate  栽培
despair  绝望
detect  察觉
distress  忧伤
miserable  悲惨的,可怜的
cardinal  主要的
guardian angel  守护天使
rehearsal  排练,预演
scorching  灼热的
skip  逃(课)
budding  崭露头角的
relentlessly  无情地