The debate has to assess the merit of university students has been going on since the existence of such institutions. Formal exam and continuous assessments are two most commonly used methods of universities all around the world today.
Though formal exam is still the most popular process, we can in no way overlook the limitations it has. Formal exam method only tests theoretical knowledge and practical skills are less tested. This method will not meet all the criteria’s of evaluating a student properly. Besides, this system justifies only the memorizing ability of an examiner, not the creativity. In addition, if a student does not perform well in the formal examination, his overall grades may be affected.
On the other hand, continuous assessment system has its dark sides as well. Adopting plagiarism is the major negative point in the continuous assessments system. Projects and assignments may be copied from the Internet or such sources, hence the student will not really benefit from it. There is always a possibility of partial judgment in continuous assessment. Moreover, course and project work need education materials, which are too expensive.
Formal examinations mainly test the rote memory of students whereas continuous assessments and project works assess a student ability and knowledge in its own way. Formal exam helps a student to motivate himself to achieve a long term goal on the other hand continuous assessments and project work help students do a great deal of research and discover information by themselves. Formal exams ensure a student`s true knowledge on the contrary continuous assessment and course work help students to approach examinations in a relaxed manner. Therefore, I think, a good blend of both these methods of assessment might be the ultimate solution.