An open letter to OCR

Or, in other words, a random collection of complaints made to my exam board. (If any OCR people are reading this, yes, I am literate, yes, my points are justified and yes, you would do well to listen to me. Rebuttals are love, as long as they're sane - and if they're not, well...)

Dear OCR,
Please stop picking poems and works of literature for us. We are big children now and can (hopefully) think for ourselves. Of course, it's OK to have some kind of "sample literature" for people who are too lazy to pick, but restricting everyone to the same pieces of work? I thought you were supposed to reward original thinking! Yes, I know that it's harder to examine people if you let them have free rein over their choices, but it also reflects their abilities more accurately and is overall fairer to them.

Please examine Media Studies candidates fairly. That means giving them open-ended questions instead of these fantastically obscure and difficult ones which test them more on their knowledge of trivia than on their knowledge, full stop.

Please give us questions which are actually challenging. That means no comparison questions. Incidentally, before someone points out that I've condemned obscure and overly difficult questions, but also asked for more challenging ones, there's a difficulty continuum from "so easy a sleeping zombie could ace it" through to "brain-killingly dull", up to "mildly interesting", then passing through "OK" and into "hell yeah I love this", then going into "uhhh...", continuing onto "my brain's hurting" and finally to "what the fuck is this?". I'd like a "hell yeah I love this" difficulty level.

Please go back to giving us massive piles of coursework instead of making us sit in classrooms for 10 hours. Why? Because coursework allows you to do proper research and work at your own pace. Sitting in a classroom for 10 hours is a glorified exam, and we have enough of those already.

Please get rid of your stupid no-paragraphs rule and hire literate markers. Paragraphs and copying out your essay are not the same thing, and some people do their best thinking in paragraphs, so change the rule.

On that subject, please let non-laptop-using students take in typed notes. It doesn't help with plagiarism, because somebody could just write out an entire source by hand and hide it in bullet points, and it doesn't help with good work, because for long texts and detailed notes it's often easier to type it - much easier to type it.

Actually, while you're doing that, could you please let people use notes from, say, Sparknotes or Wikipedia as long as they're clearly identified as not the person's own? Copying from one source is plagiarism; copying from many is research. And let's face it, they're going to use those resources anyway. Make it easier for them and don't make them feel like they're cheating if they've actually taken the time to bring in some sources and build on them. And why would I let people bring in notes from other sources? Because sometimes, even if you read an in-depth source and make even more in-depth notes (assuming you can do that and not get caught up in the mire of facts and figures), it still doesn't help and you need the original sources on hand for help.

Finally, before you build your castles, could you make sure that they're on the ground and not in the sky? For the more literal-minded of you, I was asking if you could please ground your exam protocol in reality next time. For example, originally the Controlled Assessments would have been entirely done on the computer, but almost no schools have adequate facilities, i.e. it's very difficult to accommodate 100+ people all using the computers at the same time and making sure that none of them can see each others' screens. Wouldn't it have been better to assess the facilities before making the decisions about protocol?

Thank you for your time; hopefully someone out there pays some attention. My points are well-merited, I believe, and I also believe that others share my opinion.