As the old saying goes, “Do well in your final exams, and you will be set for life!” But what really are final exams, and how is this supposed to be a measure of how much you have learned over the year? Personally I believe that this is an ineffective way to measure the sole retention of information. I believe if coupled with other forms of testing such as practicals, and other internal examinations. Exams would become a much more efficient way of basing how much information a student has retained.
Stress is one of the biggest factors which inhibit performance. Most people find that stress inhibits their performance, whether it be exam stress due to poor preparation, or just plain exam anxiety. But we can all agree that once thrown into an exam situation, we can get quite stressed, especially if we do not know the content very well. To some who can cope well under pressure, this is fine and they get the grades they deserve. Where as those who do not perform as well under pressure are severely hindered from performing to the best of their ability.
Another key factor is that some final exams are multiple choice. Multiple choice questions are much easier than questions such as short answer questions. But the only thing is easier does not test the student, as there are those who are really good at boiling down their choices to just two options or manage to eliminate all the wrong answers. Not many people have the gift of taking multiple choice questions, which at the end of the day could hinder the final output of their exams.
Lastly, final exams in whatever form they may be, do not test the actual skills of the student. This may not be relevant with regards to topics such as Physics, but in areas such as Cooking, Labwork and the like, practical examinations are a much better reflection of what the student has learned throughout the year. Practical work forces the student to conceptualize knowledge, and transform it into a multitude of different scenarios which are not possible on paper.
In conclusion, I believe that final exams are not always reflective of how much a person has learned. There are people who do well in finals, but have no clue what Mitosis actually is, and in contrast there are those who don’t know what glucose is, but if asked could create an ester. I believe that exams to be truly effective, must cater to the differences in learning and expression styles.