Students sitting for a recent comprehension class practice were shocked to find that they had been given an article from the Waffle Press. Having become accustomed to confusing and poorly written articles, the students found it to be a welcome change.
More astonishingly however, Waffle Press Editor-Generals Dr Coconut and Huey both failed the test by a huge margin. Waffle Press launched an investigation into the validity of GP comprehensions to find out how such a catastrophe might have occurred.
At first glance, the comprehension questions appear fairly straightforward. Those that require inferences of the author’s opinion and tone were also entirely doable since they merely warranted answers consisting of “cynical” and “ironic”. While the editors came out of the test feeling fairly confident of their ability to secure a good grade, it was not to be so.
The reason comes down to the way GP papers are set. We sat down with GP tutor Mr I. M. Wright, who explained the procedure employed by the GP department to ensure fairness.
Mr Wright explained that all GP papers had to be set in a way that did not favour students who may have read the article before or even been involved in the writing. As a consequence, the answer key is set based on an entirely arbitrary and largely inaccurate interpretation of the text. After a certain “creative” interpretation has been decided on, the department then employs its world class GP skills to substantiate it sufficiently.
He finds that this vague approach to question setting allows the GP department to ensure that no student is advantaged due to an understanding of the given text. This strategy makes sense as it levels the playing field for all students by making the requirements entirely unknown. After all perfect disinformation is substantially easier to attain than perfect information.
By leaving the questions extremely open ended, the GP department also leaves itself enough room to alter the interpretation they choose in order to minimise the number of marks scored by students. This would allow the department to review student submissions and alter the mark scheme accordingly, accounting for the long time taken for standardisation meetings within the GP department.