Continuous Assessment- Yes or No?

For many first year university students the idea of continuous assessment might seem a little full on, especially after the universally despised Leaving Cert. I remember thinking after a week or so in first year of university that I would be constantly working with this continuous assessment approach but I soon adapted to it and began to see the benefits of it over examinations.

Continuous assessment in university includes but is not limited to;

  • Essays
  • Presentations
  • Individual & Group Projects
  • Reports
  • Class Work (Daily/Weekly)
  • Class Exams or quizzes

  Advantages of Continuous Assessment

The most obvious positive when it comes to continuous assessment is the fact that students aren’t put through the stress of exams. It is a great relief knowing that your entire module grade doesn’t depend on whether you pass your end of year exam. It is great heading into the exam hall knowing you have already passed the module with continuous assessment and are only required to pass the exam.

Continuous assessment can also provide information on the performance of students, this can be helpful for both students and lecturers. It shows students areas they need to work on and shows the lecturer how the class is finding the material at this stage of the semester.

Continuous assessment also means that while you are constantly working away each week in your classes, you might feel like you are incredibly busy but you are learning a lot of material over a long time instead of learning the same amount of material a few weeks before the exams.

I think with continuous assessment you learn more and have a better understanding of the material than if you just cram before an exam.

Disadvantages of Continuous Assessment

Continuous assessment can bring with it, it’s own form of stress for students. Students can feel that they are under constant pressure to preform and do their best. Many classes use continuous assessment and it can be very stressful for students when all of their essay deadlines fall in the same week, this nearly always happens and results in a kind of end of year pressure for students.

Another disadvantage of continuous assessment in large classes is the fact that a tutor or lecturer must grade a large number assignments and this can take a lot of time. It can be frustrating for students for example if they complete a mid-term essay and the result of this essay is not known before they start their second essay. It is helpful for students to know this result before they start their second essay if there are things they need to work on or keep in mind when writing their second essay.


I think when it comes to continuous assessment it all comes down to the student. Good students will excel regardless and yes, there is going to be stress no matter what.

You can work all semester and will be a little stressed from time to time or you can do no work all semester with no stress and cram for your final exams and stress a lot!! The choice is yours.

Which method do you prefer? Can you think of any other advantages and disadvantages regarding continuous assessment or the traditional exam orientated style of assessment?

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