First of all, let me say that I am amazing with tests. I have no problem being tested under stressful time constraints or with huge numbers of questions. I know there are plenty of people that are just like me, however; not everyone does well during tests. Some people just have major problems with the pressures involved with exams. Without question though, exams are the best way to test students overall for many reasons. For starters, how else would you “test” a student?
Exams are the best overall method for testing students because the majority of them have no problem being tested to show their proficiency in a subject. A twenty-five question exam is more likely to show a student’s knowledge than say an essay the majority of the time. Most subjects – math, sciences, history – are best tested through an actual exam with questions on the subject. Simply put, most subjects revolve around facts and answers or methods to obtain answers that remain the same always. Even in other subjects, such as English, an exam would more accurately profile a student’s knowledge than an essay or a project. Tests work; they have worked for centuries.
Well, you ask, what about students who have problems with exams? Their issue is not with the test itself but with the self-created pressures surrounding tests. Some students fear not having enough time or not being able to remember all of the information on the test. Without a doubt, the issue there is in a student’s mentality and sometimes their actual intelligence. Exams test a student’s knowledge like no other essay or project or whatever else can. Essays and projects do, however, demonstrate a student’s ability to put their knowledge to use.
So who is to say that exams are not the best method to test a student’s ability? More often than not, the material in question is best proven to be known through a set of questions (a.k.a a test). When the subject involves mostly facts that merely need to be memorized, nothing can beat a straight exam of the material. Students’ fears arise from the time constraint involved with a test, but not the test itself. And sometimes, they simply do not know the material, which is just a lack of intelligence on their part – nothing to do with the test itself. Quite frankly, exams are straight measures of a student’s knowledge, unlike essays, projects, or anything else that demonstrate too many other abilities that may be unrelated to the subject.