As a mature postgraduate student, I strongly believe that final examinations do not help the education process at all. To have one’s course work assessed is a far better indicator of a student’s overall ability. The student will be able to demonstrate his / her ability to meet tight deadlines, something often required in the industrial sphere. Other abilities being shown are, how well the student researches the material for the given project, both through the Internet and paper based academic sources, the student’s ability to write coherently in a way that makes it easy for the reader to understand the essay, project or dissertation.
The student may also indicate that he or she has been part of an informal study group or may have been assigned to a team to complete a group project, thus demonstrating his or her ability to work as part of a team. Since part of the course requirements may be to give a presentation, again the students show their ability to work together. All of these aspects of course assessment give students valuable evidence of experience that they may wish to present in their resumes to convince a potential employer that they are suitable employment material.
A good many transferable skills are learned through the assessment process. Skills such as the ability to use computer packages, work in a team or on one’s own initiative and meet deadlines. Attending lectures and seminars punctually and reliably will show a future employer that the student may be less likely to turn up for work late or be constantly taking sick-leave days for minor ailments.
On the other hand, there is the examination method of testing a student’s ability and level of intelligence. It occurs to one to ask, if the reason for entering into education of any kind is to learn skills that will make one more useful to an employer – how do final examinations help? If the time spent revising and taking part in examinations was used to assist the student in deciding his future employment or further education, would this not be more useful and productive?
Revising for examinations does not suit everybody in that they might be less able to memorise blocks of information ready for regurgitation later onto an examination sheet. The student is already, usually, at a stage of development when they are tense and hardly in need of any more stressors. I have known situations where fellow students have been physically sick or almost in tears before an examination because they are convinced they have not revised properly.
In reality, when will an employee be required to sit in a room with his fellow employees watched over by an invigilator and prove that he or she is able to succeed in a memory test? If this does not occur in the real world then why should a student’s readiness to enter that world be tested in this way?