The intrinsically complex nature of the assessment process can hardly be over-stated. Among other things, arbitrariness, subjectivity, human frailty and a fallen world may all prove to be complicating factors and interferences. All the greater is the need to be painstaking in administering assessment. Teachers sit in judgement over students, often with frighteningly far-reaching consequences.
Effective assessment should reflect a positive correspondence between assessment and learning. Assessment at NUS is by both continuous assessment (e.g. projects, academic exercises, term tests, essays, tutorial participation) and the final examination, the ratio between them varying from course to course. The trend is towards increasing the weightage of the former and this is noteworthy as there are good grounds for arguing that it provides greater opportunity for qualitative as well as quantitative assessment. There are however, also counter-arguments, and enthusiasm about continuous assessment needs to be tempered with prudence and caution. Decisions regarding whether to apply continuous or final assessment are factor-dependent and situation-specific, and will have to be considered accordingly.
Since the final examination still substantially determines the final grade, it is not surprising that students attach a great deal of importance to the examination, and this examination-oriented mentality has to be borne in mind to enable the working out of strategies to accommodate it without seriously interfering with real learning.