The answer to this question will be a mixed one. The alternatives can be examined in relation to the three main purposes that assessment serves. As an essential element of any learning programme, formative assessment must be a friend. Because anyone with educated capabilities requires proof of their achievements, summative individual assessment will always be essential, but the effort required for its attainment may strain any affection for the process. Since the public good requires accountability, this function is also inescapablealthough we may have no more love for its necessity than we have for paying taxes. Altogether, the best that might be achieved lies between affection and indifference. But if the system as a whole is ill-designed, hostility may be the only option.