According to Tom Angelo (1995), assessment is "an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning". Assessment of student learning may occur in many different ways, among the most common are using course tests, assigned writing projects and group work.

Assessment has many purposes.

Assessment is about several things at once... It is about reporting on students' achievements and about teaching them better through expressing to them more clearly the goals of our curricula. It is about measuring student learning; it is about diagnosing misunderstandings in order to help students to learn more effectively. It concerns the quality of the teaching as well as the quality of the learning. (Ramsden, 2003, p 177)

General Assessment/Exam Regulations

In Ireland every college has their own policies around assessment. Every college has a set of rules or regulations about the conduct of exams and these are usually detailed in the General Assessment Regulations or the Exam Regulations. These regulations usually detail your rights and responsibilities as a student during examinations. You can contact your Exams Office for details but most regulations are published on the web or available in your college library.

Continuous Assessment

Continuous assessment is carried out on an on-going basis while students are actually working their way through a course or major unit thereof. It can take a wide range of forms, including periodic tests, essays and other types of assignment, on-going assessment of practical or studio work, or situational assessment. Such assessment can be either summative or formative.

Pass by Compensation

On occasion a student may fail an exam, but only just. The intent of Pass by Compensation is to address an anomaly in the academic results of an individual student. If you fail a module by less than 5% but you have done well in your other exams, your combined results may mean that you can 'pass by compensation'. This would normally allow you to proceed into your next year of study. The award of a Pass by Compensation allows a student to complete their year in a circumstance when a failure result for a course is clearly out of character with the general academic record for the student. The rules are slightly different in every college but talk to you Exam's Office if you're having problems interpreting your results.

Appealing your Result

If you are dissatisfied with a result or you believe that you should have received a pass mark for any piece of assessment, you have the right to appeal against your assessment result. The process by which you appeal varies from college to college. However there is usually a time restriction when appealing against assessment and therefore you must look into what steps you need to take immediately. Talking to your Students' Union or someone from your Exam?s Office is probably the best strategy to adopt. Confronting your lecture in an aggressive or confrontational manner is a very bad idea and will do you no favours n the long run.

Remember assessment can include examinations, fieldwork, placements, assignments, tests, projects, presentations and so on. You can usually appeal against one assignment in a course or the final grade for any course.

Throughout all stages of the appeals process, it is important to argue based on the grounds. Making general comments about how unfair your result is will not help unless you have a specific argument backed up with evidence. When appealing you should take time to think about what you want the outcome of the process to be and then remain focused on the specific outcome being sought. Appealing assessment is different to making a complaint.

If you are called to a committee meeting about your appeal remember that you're entitled to representation. Your Students' Union could help assist you as they may have experience in the area. Or maybe you feel confident enough to represent yourself but would like to bring a friend or a parent along for moral support. It's up to you.