- Education and Science
Final Exams - Are They Really Necessary?
How Important are Final Exams?
What is the real purpose of writing final exams? How important are they and who benefits most from them?
While there is no plan to eliminate final exams, I can't help but wonder how much students gain from writing such exams and I plan to explore this issue further...
For example, if students don't attend classes for long durations of time and can receive passing grades as easily as students who've attended classes regularly, one may wonder where the level of fairness comes in. One may wonder whether it would be more beneficial to have most of the final mark/grade of a course based on the assignments and quizzes performed in class throughout the year instead.
In situations where students miss a lot of classes and perform well on final exams, it's obvious that they have crammed for their final exams or figured out a way to cheat so it doesn't truly measure their level of knowledge.
What, then, is the real purpose in writing final exams?
The Benefits of Final Exams
Image by Steve Thompson/tagsforkids
Click on the image to visit Squidville.
Final exams serve a variety of purposes for students and teachers, allowing each group to benefit in one way or another.
Who benefits MOST from final exams?
Students know final exams will be written for many of their courses.
This provides a challenge for dedicated students. They know that their knowledge of the material they are learning will be tested at some point. To make life easier, they remain faithful to their studies so they won't need to cram later; they will only need to review their materials.
Dedicated students find great achievement in doing well on a final exam. They know it is one step toward future success.
Education Encompasses A Lot
Education occurs in stages...one small step at a time
Students must fully grasp basic knowledge and information before going on to something more complex.
To promote students who have forgotten most of the knowledge learned - whether because of poor attendance or poor knowledge retention - would cause setbacks during the following school year/s for fellow students and teachers.
Essentially, while those students may go on to become successful in life in their own individual ways, from an educational standpoint they wouldn't be equipped with the necessary facts and skills required to succeed in the classroom.
What do you think is the best method for diagnosing knowledge students possess?
Dedication and Commitment
Essential components of achieiving a good education
Attending school requires an amount of dedication and commitment which too many students lack.
While there are students who work toward education goals, hoping to attain careers in scientific, medical and legal professions - to name a few - there are those who wish to get by on the shirt tails of others. Instead of working hard themselves, they get others to complete their homework assignments and do their best to cheat on tests taken in the classroom.
Catching the Cheaters
Cheaters do a disservice to themselves - and so do those who help others cheat!
Final exams help teachers learn a little more about these students who cheat. It's easier for a student to cheat on an ordinary classroom test, containing multiple choice questions or true/false statements.
However, when I attended school, at least sixty percent of the final exam consisted of questions requiring answers in the form of essays. This is not much of a problem for students who know what they are learning, but for those who are trying to take the easy way out - pretending to know their studies when they are really cheating - it is not as easy to receive acceptable grades.
If it wasn't for final exams, teachers may never catch on to those who get good grades through cheating.
Cheaters in College/University
If cheaters go uncaught, it's likely that colleges and universities could be filled with students who are not worthy to be there, from an academic stand point.
Without final exams, do you think it's possible colleges and universities could be filled with cheaters?
Exceptions to every rule
Of course, there are honest students who do well during classroom assignments and tests but get nervous when writing final exams, causing their minds to go blank, which causes much anxiety to set in.
In these cases, the final exam didn't accurately measure the level of knowledge the students possessed because the exam had no way of determining stress factors present at the time it was written.
Benefits for Teachers
Teachers benefit from students' exam results. When students do well, the teacher looks better than when students struggle to make their grades. Essentially, a student's overall performance in a subject is often a direct reflection on the teacher's performance.
In addition, great teachers use exam results to improve their own work. When they see areas of an exam which most students do poorly on, they reconstruct the area to make it more understandable for students the following year.
For diligent students, final exams are basically reviewing information which has been learned
over a period of time.
Students who have been highly motivated achievers in the classroom generally do well at exam time, unless a stressful situation has developed in their lives which causes a temporary setback.
However, students who complete their work sporadically will struggle during exam time because of poor study habits, though in this there is also the exception to the rule.
Becoming Coherent in Thought Processes - A requirement for every day life
Being coherent when writing and completing exams is essential to getting your point across to others.
Regardless of whether final exams truly measure the level of knowledge students possess, students do benefit in important areas when preparing for final exams.
- Students learn to organize their thoughts or think more coherently when completing exams, especially when the exams revolve around essay-type questions, as opposed to multiple choice and true or false questions.
- When highly motivated students are required to write an essay, they will get the points organized in their minds before putting pen to paper. They don't want to have a jumbled mess of words which makes their reader confused and frustrated.
- While many students benefit from memorization skills, others try to make sense of what they are learning so they understand the subjects before them. This way, if they forget the exact text in their notebooks, it won't matter because they understand the principles involved and can have confidence in completing their exams successfully. They won't have to worry because the completion of an exam question hinges on remembering one simple word.
Post-Secondary Education and Final Exams
Final exams are especially important in a post-secondary education setting. Students are studying to apply their knowledge to careers they've chosen, but some students are more dedicated than others.
After graduation, when transcripts are received by potential employers, students with the highest grades will usually be interviewed initially because, on the surface, it appears they know their subject better than others with lower grades.
What Would It Be Like If There Was No Way To Determine Levels of Education? - Living life could be a scarier experience...
Though final exams may not be a foolproof method of evaluating how much knowledge retention students possess, can you imagine if there was no system in place whatsoever?
This may sound like an excerpt from your worst nightmare but, indulge me for a few moments and imagine how you would feel if you lived in such a world as this:
- Hospitals are filled with doctors and nurses who don't fully understand the aspects of their jobs. Sick people become sicker and germs spread rapidly.
- Operating rooms are occupied by surgeons who don't have the required knowledge to perform procedures safely.
- Teachers don't have the level of education some of their highly motivated students possess.
- Police officers and investigators can't seem to solve a crime; lawyers and judges are not sufficient at handling the repercussions of people committing crimes.
- Business corporations continually go bankrupt because people don't know how to run successful operations.
Department and grocery stores continue to foreclose because owners don't have the funding to keep the businesses in operation.
- Buildings, roads, and bridges collapse because they weren't designed and constructed safely.
- The list goes on...
Evaluating Education Levels is Important
It's necessary in sustaining life
It is of vital importance to have a system in place to evaluate the true learning levels achieved by students at all levels of high school and beyond. It is the only way to measure whether a person is ready to be promoted to the next level.
Without such a system in place, how can people be held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, on a job when they haven't been proven worthy of their grades in school?
What Do You Think?
Are final exams necessary?
Photo credit: Norma Budden.
All rights reserved.
If you would like to visit other lenses of mine which have received angel blessings,
please click on the image above.
Did this lens make you think about something you've always taken for granted? If so, I would love to hear your comments.