Are exam grades a mirror of a person’s capability?

The educational system being used is that of testing a student by making them take a written exam. Here, one is judged solely on how well that person was able to memorise what was taught during lessons. This method has been around since the beginning of education as we know it, and has never changed, save for some minor alterations.

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One main advantage of such examination system is that the result can be empirically documented, therefore, the test scores can be shown to have a relative degree of validity and reliability. Exams might encourage students to reflect upon and study their coursework, thereby improving student retention of information. They offer solid metrics to assess the strength and weakness of a particular student in a subject.

The problem with standardised exams and grading is that all students are individuals. One’s intelligence and capability cannot be defined by exams. Too many children, often bored by conventional learning, slip through the net. Some students are bad exam takers, who nervous up and get unfocused during exams. Others have a hard time of memorising, even though they are good at what the subject asks from them. The stress of exams and the focus put on them usually ends up stunning emotional and social development. When schools prepare students for exams, they are not preparing them for real life. The only skill one could get from such examinations is how to work under pressure.

An alternative to the standardised way of examinations is simulations, when unlike written tests, the learner could apply what they learned in the simulation of a real-life scenario and are assessed on how they respond to applying their knowledge and skills in the appropriate context. This method is being used to great success mostly abroad for examining IT skills such as database engineering.

Exams, although an easy way to assess someone, do not properly show one’s capability. They usually make students memorise and the forget everything after the exam, and do not prepare them properly for what their future job and life in general expects from them.

Written by: Nathan Portelli

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