This is the third article in our Meet The Markers special report.
The Economics Department, in contrast was preoccupied with preparing questions for the Prelim examinations later this year. In the few minutes calculated and allocated to us on the basis of the marginalist principle, we managed to glean a few precious nuggets of information about the recent examinations. Microeconomics markers appeared to be particularly envious of Macroeconomics Trade markers given the bulk of students chose to begin from the Micro section and end somewhere before the passing mark. The absurdly limited time allocated to the paper ensured not even the most illegible Arabic scribblings allowed any student to complete the paper with any degree of satisfaction.
As put succinctly by an Economics student, “nobody studies trade”, allowing the Trade markers to complete their marking quickly and efficiently. Some markers complained of running out of ink as a result of the large crosses they had to draw on students’ scripts but these complaints were brushed aside by those assigned to other questions who were trying to find a way to simultaneously draw crosses and bang their heads against the wall.
To find out just how the department managed to wipe the floor with so many students, we spoke to Mr Yew Dun Ngoh, Jack, a prominent teacher at the Department of Economics. Mr Yew once again brought up the strategies employed by the Chemistry department of testing things that students were unlikely to know, thereby trimming marking time significantly.
Most notably, he raised a key strategy involving not teaching HP students anything about International Economics, thereby disqualifying a large chunk of the students who would be able to finish the paper from writing that particular essay. This, he says, had the spillover effect of convincing naive science students that they could get by without studying the topic, a mistake many of them are now kicking themselves over. Noting the more “freeform” teaching style in the HP as well as the focus on “self-learning”, he believes students should have known better.
In an effort to rub salt in their wounds, the Department set a “pure regurgitation” International Trade question, the only kind of question science students are known to do well in. This teased them as they were forced to impale themselves on the spikes of question 4b, giving markers an intense morbid glee in the symbolic spillage of red ink.
As of this writing, the Department of Economics was seen marking the final scripts with mixed feelings – the joy that the marking was almost over, and the unmistakable horror that this batch might not make it.