An examination is an expression of policy. For better or worse, whether it is a course examination or a comprehensive, whether it is extramural or intramural, it exemplifies the philosophy of those who give it. It sets standards and establishes orientation, and therefore becomes a guide to the true expectations of the examining body, quite apart from its examining function, that is, it becomes a guide to learning as well as a test of learning. It is these two functions that demand either reconciliation or clear-cut separation. I have often explained this dichotomy to anxious students by the story of the man who entered a restaurant and ordered and ate, in sequence, two complete meals, the first of high calories and low cost, and the second a superbly expensive meal of more modest calories. When questioned about this performance, he stated that the first meal was for his tapeworm, the
Hoff HE, Schofield JR. The Comprehensive Examination. JAMA. 1966;198(3):291–292. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110160119035
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.