Why handwriting is important

students writing exam
Tony Hyde is an IB Physics examiner and teacher with over 40 years classroom experience. He has taught at the Doon School, La Cote International School, Aiglon College and l’Hermitage in Paris.
Here Tony talks about a big issue that is often overlooked when students are writing their exams;
Handwriting – the hidden enemy
In many respects the teacher is the worst enemy regarding  handwriting.  He/she quickly gets used to a student’s style/hieroglyphics.  But during an external assessment, the examiner is seeing their handwriting for the first time!  Sometimes even using the zoom facility when marking online, I am unable to decipher a word.  Invariably, it is a word for which a mark is given.  If it cannot be read no mark can be awarded.  This is not a rare event so please be aware of handwriting if it is “bad”.
Bilingual problems
Bilingual students must be careful and avoid what I would term a crossover, when writing an exam in English.  For example, the word sensitive in French and Spanish is sensible, which has a radically different meaning in English.  I have had students write the word sensible in an exam, when sensitive should have been written.  Again the mark is lost and the problem is that the students don’t pick up their error when checking their paper.
Same sound – wrong word
Malapropisms (the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound) are also common in exams written by students for whom English is not the mother tongue.  For example, I have had systemic written for systematic and the classic one has been superstition for superposition – again marks lost.  All the above examples have not been in a language paper but a Physics exam!
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