Final exams give a fair assessment of how well a student’s memory is functioning on a particular subject, in a particular day. They do not fairly assess the knowledge of that student.
Knowledge is not just reiterating facts back to a teacher. True knowledge is knowing the answer to questions or knowing how to locate the answer should you need it. Knowledge is the commanding force that allows us to continue forward in our everyday lives. It is the catalyst that gives us the drive and background to learn more. Final exams serve a purpose as they induce students to study, reread lessons and try to retain as much from a class as possible. As an assessment of knowledge, however, they fall very short.
Final exams are not even close to a fair assessment of student knowledge. There are too many factors that influence testing and exams to be able to logically say that, should a person pass or fail an exam, they either know it or don’t. There may be issues in a student’s life that are making concentration difficult. The student may feel physically unwell. The wording of the exam may be vague or the questions may have more than one viable answer. Other factors include even simple things like the weather.
Differences in types of questions on final exams can also hinder people. One student may do well on multiple choice while another excels on “fill in” answers. It may be difficult for one student to comprehend certain writings or for another to understand the essence of essay answers. Half of an entire classroom of students may do well on any type of exam. The other half learn differently and need to be assessed differently. This is particularly true in today’s overcrowded and mainstreamed classrooms!
In other words, there are many types of students and many types of exam writers. Some students don’t do well on written tests but can answer nearly any question you ask of them orally. Many exam preparers word parts of the exam in ways that are difficult to understand. There are as many different types of teachers and teaching techniques as there are students and learning techniques. There is just not one single way to ascertain if a student has retained a large portion of class instruction.
In truth, final exams don’t even come close to giving a fair assessment of student knowledge. The student base and instructor management are just too varied for it to be so.