Are Exams the Best Way to Test Students?

Are Exams the Best Way to Test Students?

Each one of us has gone through many academic exams in school and colleges. They are the standardised way to assess the academic abilities of students. But many parents, students, and scholars today are contemplating if exams are the best way to test the pupils.

While many stakeholders stand by the exams being fair, other sets of contenders refute the notion. In this article, we will try evaluate both sides of the coin.

A. Why exams are favoured

1. A well-structured system in place

Many scholars suggest that there has to be some formal framework that tests students. Although no system can fully capture a student's abilities, there must still be some formal setup.

Exams provide a means to test the knowledge and experience that students possess. Since exams come with clear, concise, and measurable guidelines, they provide a fair evaluation system.

2. An equal testing criteria for all

Many people claim that all the students in a particular course are taught the same things at the same time in the same environment. Hence, testing them on the same set of questions makes sense.

Further, since everyone is marked on the same criteria, the examination setup seems to be fair.

3. Foster great learning

Exams ensure that the students put effort into studying. It makes them learn what is taught in the class, conduct their own research, and even think outside the box.

Many supporters say that attempting the questions on a test makes students relate the curriculum to real life. This fosters permanent skills in them and fetches decent results at the end of a course.

B. Why do people think otherwise

While the arguments mentioned above seem fair, they represent only one side of the coin. There are many people today who feel exams may not be the best way to test students. Here is why they think so:

1. The drawbacks of standardisation

Many stakeholders argue that the standardised nature of exams pushes students towards memorising the course and guesswork. They make students repeatedly practice question banks and papers that refute the whole purpose of exams.

Hence, the questions that are supposed to test students for unfamiliar problems gauge them for cramming the answers.

In addition, while subjects like mathematics can be easily measured, objective subjects can't be. Different examiners often grade the same essay by the same student differently. This may refute the idea of standardisation as a whole.

2. Students face their challenges

Students face many situations where exams do not appear to be fair, for example, falling sick during the exam season, financial problems at home, emotional issues, etc.

Writing exams in such situations naturally keep the students from giving their best shot. Hence, these turbulent incidences make them suffer academically, mentally, and sometimes physically too.

3. One size does not fit all

While there are students who are good at academics and core subjects, there are some who are not, that doesn't mean that they are less knowledgeable.

For example, a student who does not perform well at writing in the exams might have a very sharp presentation or acting skills. But the standardised grading often fails to consider such factors.

C. Conclusion

To sum up, exams have their own set of pros and cons. While they try to ensure that students make the best of the learning, they may sometimes overshadow their inherent interests.

At present, the education system must develop strategies to foster the holistic development of the students. Similarly, for now, the students must make sure they make the best of the examination situation at hand.

Swapna Seshadri

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