Exam season in Linköping

So, it is exam season at the moment. It’s the end of the first half of the semester, and everyone is working on their exam preparation or final assignments.

Examination: Swedish style

I’ve mentioned before that it is different taking exams in Sweden to taking them in Britain. Indeed, when I explained the reality of British exams to other exchange students and Swedes alike, they all say that it sounds insane! When I explain the Swedish way to students in Britain, they all say that I’m obviously having it far too easy…

In Sweden the exams take place in the morning or afternoon (as in Britain) but here they are 5 hours long. So, the morning slot is 0800 to 1200, and afternoon is from 1300 to 1800. In Britain, depending on the examination, the time allowed in an exam is anywhere between an hour and three hours.

The other factor that must be considered in the difference between the two systems is that in Britain, we are taught course content for twice the time. So, my British student colleagues study from October until January for a 2 hour exam; whereas here we are taught from September until October for a 5 hour exam, and then again from November to December for a 5 hour exam. This effectively means that in Britain you have to demonstrate knowledge of twice the amount of material in half the time!

I think the Swedish system seems to have more emphasis on knowledge gained, rather than exam performance. That is: with so much time, you can focus on demonstrating your understanding of the material, rather than your ability to perform calculations quickly. After all, in real life you are never going to conduct aircraft stability calculations within a 2 hour time limit without any resources!

I’ve always thought that short exams are silly, since they measure the candidates’ ability to recall information under extreme pressure and in a short time span. The success or failure of a candidate therefore relies heavily on his/her ability to work well in an exam environment. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any situation in industry where that is a useful skill!


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