I’m conflicted on this.

UNC journalism bails/bales on historic/historical spelling test

For almost 40 years, journalism students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have had to pass a spelling and grammar test in order to get a degree. Now, in the age of spell check, the university is changing the test, which some say will make it even more difficult to pass.

. . .

“The content of the test came up last fall when several faculty members were talking about the introductory News Writing course, which is where many students first take the exam,” Bechtel wrote. “In those conversations, I suggested that memorizing a spelling list wasn’t the best measure of competence in our craft. Why not use a set of questions about word choice instead? Other faculty members agreed to the idea.”

Beginning this fall, spelling will no longer be included on the exam. Instead, students will be tested on grammar, punctuation and word usage in a sentence, such as ordinance/ordnance, wither/whither, allude/elude and eminent/imminent.

On the surface this might look like UNC softening the test by removing spelling portion, but the way Bechtel is quoted talking about “memorizing a spelling list”, it makes me think they actually dropped a pretty shoddy test of critical writing and editing.

After all, as the students in the article point out, spell check is incredibly common these days. The errors that slip out are more commonly word choice problems, like “your” versus “you’re” or “loath” versus “loathe”.

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