There's a scary amount of tension in my office this week due to the English exams being graded. I've worked in two public middle schools within the last four years, and the exams have ranged from absolutely ridiculous, to not so bad but still a potential grading nightmare. Korea isn't exactly a place that promotes thinking outside the box, and testing is no exception. Sure Koreans understand that English is a hell of a lot more flexible than Korean, but they don't apply that understanding to making test questions. Once grading starts, I'm often the final word as to whether or not a student gets a question right or wrong. I do my best, but like most Americans I have very little background studying grammar. I think the biggest problem is that teachers insist on asking questions that have 1,000 potential answers. It's difficult to understand why, considering they've spent years and years specifically studying and teaching English grammar. So ultimately they're left with a massive amount of unique responses, and have to check each one. Some of the students who lived abroad are more fluent than the teachers, and their answers are often so advanced that they simply cause confusion. Some answers are grammatically correct but the meaning is wrong, and vice versa. Some students make sentences that sound like a mess at first, but can easily be correct in a specific context. And when the teachers don't understand the language enough to grade without having to do extensive research, you have a recipe for one, big mountain of stress. Anyways, I have very little pull at my school but I plan to suggest some new ideas before the next school year. At my last school I suggested more multiple choice questions, but my co teacher said "nope, too easy". I still think it should be done. What about the majority of the questions being multiple choice and a short essay at the end with a very specific, organized grading system? I've only just started to toss around ideas in my head, so I'd love to hear some input from fellow public school teachers. If you guys had some power or say in the testing, what would you change? Thanks for taking the time to read this.