Are Examinations Really Necessary?
Exams inflict needless strain upon students. The fear of exams and the disgrace of failure may well account for many of the suicides, breakdowns and lesser nervous ailments occurring among students.
Health, emotional, or merely temperamental factors may give a student an off day,harming his showing in the results list. A poor range of questions, or a bad choice on the student’s part may again affect the result with little regard to his capabilities.
The examination procedure itself is artificial. It is argued that the time factor is harmful: it restricts the development of ideas in an essay, and encourages stereotyped, often scrappy works. Similarly the absence of reference sources contributes little to the to the possibility of a good essay. Instead, it means a student must learn facts by rote, and thus the importance of facts is exaggerated at the expense of interpretation and originality.
Exams assess a student’s ability, but do they assess the right things ? It is argued that exams merely test the ability to remember large amounts of facts – with deadening, uninspiring effects.
From this it follows that the exam system should be replaced by one which takes greater cognisance of originality and individuality, which encourages the student to find his own intellectual paths, and which does not restrict him to a preordained, ‘package course’ likely to turn out stereotyped historians, sociologists, physicists, or whatever.
This leads directly to the argument that the examination system is the unfortunate result of the present educational structure. Exams would cease to be defensible if it was accepted that students and tutors should participate equally in the education process, that lecturers and tutors should not be mere 19th century monitors handing out assimilated information, but, rather, catalysts in the intellectual development of the student.