Listen to Keano: write only what the examiner wants to read

Back in 2013 Manchester United played Real Madrid in a Champions League match.
In the 56th minute Nani went into a tackle with his foot up high; the referee not only gave a free kick against United – he also sent Nani off.
United lost the game and as a result went out of the competition.

Afterwards the ITV commentary team were discussing whether or not the referee made the correct call. They replayed a clip of the action at normal speed, then in slow motion.
Roy Keane was on the panel but wasn’t saying much at this stage. Finally the host asked him what he thought. It’s very simple he said; the debate here shouldn’t be about whether or not the referee made the correct call – the discussion should be why Nani was daft enough to raise his leg that high in the first place. By doing so he was creating a situation where the referee was forced into making a call one way or the other. At that stage the damage was done. Nani should have known better.

Whenever I correct a test I usually get a couple of answers where it’s unclear whether or not they merit full marks.
My tendency now is not to award the marks. This highlights to the student the danger of putting the examiner in a situation akin to the referee in the story above.

And Keane’s point is just as applicable here – If at all possible avoid creating a situation where the examiner has to make a call as to whether or not to give you full marks. It may seem obvious, but if it’s the leaving cert then remember that you won’t be in the examiner’s house when he’s correcting your paper, so you won’t have the opportunity to explain to him (or her) what you meant by your answer. And even though your answer may make perfect sense to you, it may still not get full marks on the day.

The moral of the story? Give onto the examiner that which is his. If there is a standard answer to a commonly-asked question then just learn it. And make sure that this answer – and only this answer – is what you write down on the day of the exam. If you’re reading this as a parent then check that your child knows their definitions – and if they stray off course by putting things in their own words then don’t be afraid to give them a red card.
On a serious note, if their definition doesn’t make sense to you (if it doesn’t read as an english sentence should) then it probably won’t make sense to an examiner either.

As I mentioned in my last post this is all just a game.
And this is just one of the rules.
So if you want to play you have to learn the rules.
Make Keano proud.

 

This was the closest I could get to a video of the discussion. Unfortunately it kicks in just after Keane’s comment about Nani unnecessarily putting the referee in a situation where he had to make a judgement call.
But then again, Keane is always worth watching.

For what it’s worth, the clip also illustrates one of our inbuilt biases known in psychology as fundamental attribution error. It’s one of the most profound ideas in all of science because it tells us that our own view of reality is filtered in such a way as to make us seem to be better than we actually are. But maybe that’s for another day.

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