Bangkok University Midterm Examinations: Exam cramming, cheating, and formalities

The first week of Bangkok University International College’s midterm exams is closing to an end. The Siamerican had two exams; On Tuesday afternoon, he completed the College Writing exam, followed by a Critical Reading test on Wednesday morning.

He is confident that he passed both with flying colors, but will have to wait a month plus for the results.

His next exam will be for Modern Presentation Techniques on Tuesday morning of February 26, followed by a Mass Media Communications exam on Thursday morning of February 28, and finally two exams on Saturday, March 1: Statistics for Social Sciences in the morning and Marketing Communication in the afternoon.

After the examination period, there will be a two week + spring break (though that time is really the dawn of the Thai summer), of which the Siamerican plans to visit his family down in Phuket.

The conducting of exams at Thai University’s are conducted in quite a formal affair. As you may know, University students, international and Thai alike are required to wear uniforms–white collared-button up shirt with dark trowsers for the guys and black skirt for the girls.

At Bangkok University International College (BUIC) uniform wearing isn’t strictly enforced on a regular basis, for guys in particular. Many instructors won’t make a big deal when students show up in jeans and a t-shirt, though some can be quite anal about it. The Thai woman instructor of the Modern Presentation Techniques, for example, won’t give attendance marks for students who aren’t in full and proper uniform. Other than this, the uniform rule is loosely followed.

That is an exception for the examination periods, where students won’t be admitted into the exam room without full and proper uniform. Many guys will even go all the way with wearing the university’s official neck Thai.

The exam room itself is just a traditional classroom with several rows of seats. Each student is designated an assigned seat and room for their exam, of which they can find out by logging into their account on the University website. Three credit courses standardly give two hours for exams. For such exams, students are not allowed to leave before at least an hour has passed. Also for students who come late, they are given up to the first hour to enter the exam room, after which they will not be permitted to take the exam.

For a mass of the courses, multiple choice questions infested with flawed and trick questions can be expected, while some exams have short and open answered questions. For a Bangkok University student, preparing for an exam, whether midterms or finals, most likely means cramming information into one’s short term memory, directly from a power point presentation slide print out and/or a text book, most likely of which will be a xeroxed version from the school’s xerox center, right outside the school book store.

Preferred by most international (western) students are the rare essay examinations, which students can express their understanding and knowledge in their own words. Most Thai students would prefer easy multiple choice of which they can either guess, or recall the necessary info from their short term memory, packed with crammed and programmed knowledge from the days and weeks preceding the exam. Apparently, many students put much effort into cheating by either looking off of others sheets, or bringing in concealed notes/info.

The Siamerican wouldn’t need to cheat, nor would he openly endorse others to cheat, even though several students (all Thai) have requested to Siamerican to let them cheat off of his tests. Not sure how serious they were, but the Siamerican had to offer a laugh of ridicule, as the exams aren’t really that hard if you invest an hour or two for preparation–ideally in the hours preceding the exam.

The Siamerican thinks:

Woe to this archaic method of evaluation. Glory to the day that Bangkok University abolish such an outdated academic tradition, and implement more accurate and reliable forms of knowledge and educational assessment.

Until then, the Siamerican will have to eat it with ketchup. With an estimated five and a half more terms of the University system before the degree is earned, eleven more examination periods such as this will have to be endured!

Stay tuned