The advantage of written examinations is relatively clear: testing conditions, questions and grading scales are the same for everyone and the know-how of a large number of students can be tested in a short timeframe. There is a greater variety of types of written examination than one can imagine, yet they also have their limitations.
There are more varieties of “written exam” than one can imagine; they range from the typical written exam with open and closed or multiple choice questions to seminar papers through to learning portfolios, where students are provided the opportunity to reflect on their own learning process. But that’s not all. Within the various exam types there are many different forms of question, from those asking purely factual information to those requiring the practical application of knowledge. These various types of questions and formats enable the precise examination of learning outcomes.
Before deciding which type of examination you would like to use, it is important to reference the examination regulations for the university, in general (APSO), and your degree program, specifically (FPSO). These regulations stipulate which forms of examination are permissible and how they are to be administered.
To administer a written exam as fairly and objectively as possible, the requirements and conditions of the exam should be made transparent to students as early as possible. You may consider making old exams or sample questions available. One drawback of written exams is the relatively one-sided picture of the student they provide in that only a smaller percentage of their knowledge can be tested and such individual factors as the fear of exams are difficult to take into consideration with this type of exam. To ensure objectivity, it is important that you, as the exam administrator, make clear ahead of time what your evaluation criteria will be and what kind of model answer you would like to see. You should consider, too, the extent to which answers are interdependent and formulate a strategie on how to deal with consequential errors.