As somebody who has completed GCSEs, A Levels, a university degree and who is now studying for a diploma, I wholeheartedly agree that final exams help the education process. I have passed and failed a few so, let’s face it.
As a modern language graduate, I was recently shocked to hear that for GCSE French, a student may soon be able to complete their studies without ever speaking the language! The reason? The oral exam is too stressful for the student! I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry when I heard this on the radio. I mean, I have heard of political correctness, but that little governmental gem goes beyond the pale.
Every type of exam, whether it be practical, written, listening or oral, in all areas of education is the driving force of learning a subject. They give the student focus and the motivation to learn their subject, in the knowledge that they are going to be tested on their capabilities. Studying for exams is an integral part of the education process – you learn through the steady intake of course material through attending classes and completing homework and coursework.
Exams at the end of a structured period of learning are the part of the education process which tells students that they cannot just rest on their laurels; pending exams kick-start their brains into action and really exemplify what they have learned. Indeed, exams can weed out the clandestine under-achievers (AKA cheaters) – those students who think they are being clever by cheating with their homework and getting the A grades. The exams have the last laugh.
Granted, some students go to pieces in exams – why some would say they are a hindrance to the education process – but this is where coursework can help. Coursework gives the student a balanced chance to prove their knowledge in a subject. Coursework has, however, received some criticism over the past years due to the reasons stated previously: the teacher/examiner doesn’t know if it is the student’s own work or if they have plagiarised it from some never-to-be-traced website. This will probably remain a grey area.
All of the above does hit a nerve for me personally as, when I was studying for my degree in French and Spanish, there were quite a few fellow students who gained higher marks for their work throughout the course by having their work corrected, and therefore improved, by native-speakers of the languages. However, and I reiterate, the exams (as did I) had the last laugh: you cannot rely on anybody else when you are sitting your Finals. Amongst which, incidentally, happened to include a series of nerve-wracking, mouth-drying oral exams, which, believe it or not I managed to bravely survive.
Wot no exams? Exams rule OK.