The pandemic has prompted questions about high-stakes exams

The pandemic has prompted questions about high-stakes exams

But other ways of assessing students create new problems

“My brother thinks I’m crazy,” says Márcia Ramos, a 53-year-old from Rio de Janeiro. After losing a job in sales a few years ago, Ms Ramos decided to retrain as a lawyer. She and 6m others are now waiting to take the enem, an exam that many Brazilian universities use in their admissions process. The test should have taken place in November. Because of covid-19 it has been postponed until January.

The free test-prep class Ms Ramos attends, run by a youth group, has been less effective since it went online. So she is relieved to have more time to cram. The delay to the enem has, however, led universities to fill more of their spots for the coming academic year using their own entrance exams. This is bad news for poorer students such as Ms Ramos who have less time and money to study for several tests.

School closures have disrupted the education of close to 1.5bn pupils since the start of the year. Governments have been forced to make difficult decisions about whether and how to conduct important exams. These have revived long-running debates about the fairness of high-stakes tests. That could result in changes that last far beyond the pandemic.