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Before we can determine whether an examination fulfils its purpose, we need to understand what that purpose is. Gordon Stobart (2008) lists a number of purposes that any examination may seek to achieve:

  • selection and certification
  • determining and raising standards
  • formative assessment - assessment for learning.

Stobart (2008) suggests that there are individual, professional and managerial purposes as well as those listed above. These purposes often overlap and sometimes compete. For example, success in an examination may be used to determine the type of university course that an individual may wish to pursue. Here the examination has selection and certification purposes ...

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