Since the time of Ancient China, examinations have been in place within the system of academia. They are defined as tests designed to prove the students’ deep understanding of the concepts provided during their standard lecture, and the general curriculum that they are required to research. However, at the same time, examinations are typically weighted at the highest percentage of the class grade, leaving all the hours of homework and laboratory assignments feeling almost entirely insignificant by comparison. While the majority of examinations work based on memory, the tests have proven to be the nightmare and source of extreme stress in the lives of the unfortunate students who take them. If professors are so confident in their ability to teach the material pertaining to their classes, why is this necessary evil still implemented as a way for students to prove themselves? Furthermore, does there remain a superior option that eliminates the common test anxiety plaguing the minds of students and often destroying their health? To the body of professional educators, there fails to exist any other methodology to achieve the goal of academic comprehension than this tried and true formula.
Aside from the obvious pressure placed on students, examinations have existed for so long given their vast advantages. For instance, exams allow the students to broaden their knowledge, as when a student takes an exam, their performance throughout the questions and answers serves to reflect their own understanding. Consequently, in the event that they realize they are struggling, they will be motivated to work much harder and ignore the countless distractions that often permeate their free time including but not limited to movies, television shows, books, and video games (Nixon, n.d.). Without exams to force them to concentrate on their studies, their minds will simply be full of knowledge related to their hobbies instead on information that will allow them to succeed in their future life. Examinations also allow for a degree of healthy competition amongst the students which motivates them to acquire as much knowledge and understanding of the material as they can to succeed (Nixon, n.d.). When an individual works tirelessly to maintain good grades and high academic standing, they are rewarded not only with respect from their peers, but also scholarships and opportunities to study at the most prestigious institutions around the world. More often than not, a degree acquired from a university of significant reputation will expand their list of internships and full time job opportunities upon graduation. Finally, knowledge not only allows superior grades that push the student to challenge themselves and improve their minds, but it has also been proven to develop their personality in a positive way. The best students become far more confident and often grow to become experts in their particular field, and this confidence quickly grows over time to the point that students no longer fear their exams or job interviews that they may take after graduation (Nixon, n.d.).
Unfortunately, the benefits associated with academic examinations fail to impact the majority of students as many are simply looking to pass the class and move on to courses that are of actual interest to them. The test season often brings astronomical levels of stress and anxiety to all students, including and especially those with commitments and responsibilities existing outside of their class (i.e. extracurricular activities, friends, family, work, children, etc.) (ProCon.org, 2017). Unlike the typical side hobbies which serve as artificial distractions to the majority of students, many who have real world tasks on their plate will struggle immensely to concentrate on academic achievement. Given the fact that school students often fail to grow enough to tolerate and face the stress of an exam, many have been reported to suffer from panic attacks and shortness of breath (ProCon.org, 2017). Although the individuals who decide to pursue higher education have an increased degree of endurance towards tests, the worst victims of the aforementioned stress include young children who are often too playful to be able to dedicate the entirety of their energy and free time to success in academia. Despite everything, the majority of students, including alumni, have universally agreed in stating that the biggest fault with examinations comes from the brutally short time limit often placed upon them as an additional burden. This feature is noted for being the most strict and cruel during tests pertaining to subjects in mathematics. For most universities, the time limit on Calculus exams fails to even span the course of an hour, as professional educators believe that forcing completion of all questions within the confines of no more than 50 minutes should sufficient enough (ProCon.org, 2017).
Furthermore, the ability of students to achieve good academic standing under these constraints serves to highlight the quality of education offered by the particular institution they attend. However, this is observed only by the professional educators, as the students often feel it to be a sacrifice of their potential in exchange for someone else’s reputation. When the time allotted for an examination is expanded to beyond an hour, so much of the pressure that students face during test taking is removed for the fact that they feel they can slow down, read questions multiple times, and check their answers upon completion. In a world of competition, pressure, anxiety, stress, and unfair time limits, most students no longer comprehend the value of their education to be in their understanding of the material, but rather the grade they received at the end of the semester based on their performance during exams (ProCon.org, 2017). As there is no better way to force students to understand the material, exams should remain. However, maximizing their time limit will remove so much of the pressure and stress that often inhibits their grades.
- Nixon, B. (n.d.). The Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/the-pros-and-cons-of- standardized-testing
- ProCon.org. (2017, January 31). Is the Use of Standardized Tests Improving Education in America? Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://standardizedtests.procon.org/