Should students be given exams? That popular question has given rise to many different answers from people of various age groups, experiences and educational backgrounds. Some try to argue with facts while others are more opinionated. I intend to discuss some of the most compelling arguments coming from the latter group. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Exams give students a definite target to strive for. Although some might not agree, it does not change the fact that it provides students a goal that motivates them to do well in their exams. Examinations is the factor that will distinguish people who are serious about their future and will be determined enough to overcome whatever small challenges that stands in front of them – in this scenario, exams – and the rest of the herd who just cannot be bothered. Ask any motivational speaker on how to achieve a long-term goal and the answer you’ll get is to set a smaller, short-term goal. What is that goal? Examinations. People can argue that education should not be solely about acing in examinations but they should acknowledge the fact that without exams, they won’t be able to see how far they have come and where they actually stand. This brings us to the next point.
Exams is a method of self-evaluation. Let’s say we’re playing a game. How do we distinguish a beginner from a no-holds-barred gaming expert? We have multiple stages. What does it take to go through each stage? There is a boss fight that we must face to progress to the next stage. That is it, exams are merely boss fights in this game called education. If you win a boss fight, you prove yourself worthy to take on the next level and if you lose, you’ll just have to take a step back and reassess your abilities and decide on a new strategy to tackle this obstacle. If there are no exams, how will our educators decide if we are capable of handling complex problems? Some might argue that we can replace exams with hands-on practical training, however, how much time will it take for one teacher to evaluate the knowledge of a class of 30 students by practical application? The simple truth is that examinations is the most efficient method of evaluating our capabilities.
Exams help students learn. When we talk about exams, the first thing that pops in our heads is stress and pressure. Is this bad? It is bad when it’s excessive. Paradoxically, we need pressure to excel in our studies. Newton’s first law states that an object at rest will stay at rest unless an outside force is enacted upon it. That might be the law of motion but the same principle applies. Without anything to push us, we won’t even bother getting out of bed let alone studying. Exams are exactly what we need to push ourselves to study harder so that every little details in the books we’re reading enter our brain and stay there for good. Sure, some students with a lower pressure threshold might not be able to cope and burn out quicker than others. There are still other approaches that can be taken to reduce acquiring huge amounts of stress and pressure.
All in all, these are just opinions even if they appear to be very convincing. You might or might not agree with them. I do sincerely hope that I managed to deliver one side of the argument in a way that will spark further discussions and with that, I rest my case.
Syahmy Alim bin Mustaza
HDA- English Writing Team