From the time immemorial, exams have been used as the main way of assessment. Exams have turned out to be an important segment of human lives. Since I was in the junior school, I have been taking exams. The same case has happened to anyone who has been in the school system. Since exams have been a part of our lives in almost all instances, people have developed a strong mentality that the only way to succeed in life is by passing exams. This mentality has developed in people’s mindsets and since every person wants to succeed in life, they fear exams and take them seriously. The most amazing thing is that the same mentality has developed in the society. Individuals who pass exams are seen as successful, while those who fail are encouraged to work hard. Seriousness that people have during exams raises more rhetoric than answers. I tend to question whether exams measure what they are meant to measure. This kind of thinking provokes me to think otherwise. I argue that exams do not measure what they are intended to measure. I find gaps in the way exams assess individual abilities and skills. I also blame exams as a key contributor to challenges that we have today. There are people who have useful skills, but they cannot be captured by exams and, thus, such skills get wasted (Little).

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Exams and Alternative Method of Assessment

In this paper, I shall extensively argue on proposition that exams should be replaced with an alternative method of assessment.

  • Firstly, I do not believe that exams measure what they are meant to measure. They do not achieve their intended goals. Real intentions of exams are to help a teacher and a student to achieve certain objectives. Exams allow the teacher to assess what students have learned. Such kind of information is very helpful to the teacher since the teacher will realize weak areas that need to be revised. The teacher will be able to engage students and identify the best ways of covering certain areas. If this is done, learning will be exciting and it will remain quality-oriented. Unfortunately, this does not happen. On the one hand, teachers focus on administering exams just because it is mandatory. They never take exams as a way of assessing weak areas so that they can assist students to improve them. If students fail exams, teachers conclude that students are foolish or they never take their class work seriously. The whole issue is forgotten and the teacher continues with the syllabus. Students have no chance to prove their abilities (Morris).

Students, on the other hand, end up discouraged since they believe that they are failures. From the above perspective, it can be argued that exams are not beneficial to students or teachers. The same proves the argument that exams should be replaced with alternative methods of assessments. It also proves that exams do not measure what they are intended to measure. Exams are just a cause of trauma to students. I tend to argue that teachers do not even care what they test. They are out to ensure that they have something that they can make grades from. They do not care whether what they test is helpful to students so long as it is an exam (Gnad).

  • Secondly, I totally agree with the notion that exams are a way of assessing student’s performance. However, the question of how accurate exams can evaluate students in terms of their ability and intelligence makes me believe that exams should not be used as a way of assessment. I tend to concur with Albert Einstein’s argument that everyone is a genius and individuals should not be judged using only one method since it may discourage them. In relation to the above case, I argue that we should not judge students’ abilities by exams only. If exams are used as the only way of assessment, it will be impossible to capture abilities and skills that students possess. Their real potential and ability would remain unrealized. Moreover, exams tend to pose a very wrong assumption. Exams assume that a single method can be used in assessing students accurately. Such an assumption is very incorrect. Student population presents a lot of diversities. Students possess different learning styles; however, exams are inefficient in capturing differences in learning and it calls for different ways of assessing their abilities and potential. The same argument poses another critical question. If teachers clearly understand that students have a lot of differences and they cannot be assessed in the same way, why are exams still used as a way of assessing students’ potential and ability? The same argument justifies the reason there should be different methods of assessing potential of students (Dowling).
  • Thirdly, I believe that exams should be replaced with an alternative method of assessment because exams are more of a mind game than assessment. Exams are aimed at testing whether students can easily recall what has been taught in class. While some students require a lot of time to study and understand, some will read a textbook the day before the exam and pass it, while others who cannot do that fail. Moreover, some students may perform poorly in exams, but they can easily demonstrate what they have learned through presentations and applications (Gnad).
  • However, such capabilities are not captured in exams and such students end up failing. It is thus right to state that exams do not measure individual ability and skills, but rather they test the ability to recall. In the end, a student with the strongest ability to recall and memorize is classified as intelligent. From the above revelations, exams are a way of gambling and it does not test the ability of an individual nor skills that one has. In addition, exams have resulted in a scenario where there are many people who can pass exams, but they cannot be able to translate their learned skills into practice. The same calls for the need of having an alternative way of assessing abilities of students in a more comprehensive way (Dowling).
  • Exams are highly susceptible to teaching. Despite strict penalties that exist, it is eminent that exams are still susceptible to cheating. Students can easily sneak exam materials and cheat in exams. Furthermore, some teachers can easily provide their favored students with questions that appear in exams. The same proves that exams are susceptible to cheating. When such a scenario happens, some students end up having the upper hand and they acquire merit that they do not deserve. Furthermore, computer systems that store exam results before release are also vulnerable to hacking. Such a scenario calls for an alternative method of assessing students. A method that is not susceptible to cheating or hacking need to be put in place (Morris)
  • Exams shift mentality of a student from seeking knowledge to seeking grade. Students do not bother to add more knowledge that is not in the syllabus since they believe that it is useless. Their main intention is to obtain a good grade and not to attain new knowledge. This form of mentality hinders creativity and exploration of new knowledge. It is unfortunate that teachers only encourage students to read past papers so that they can master questions that will appear in exams, but they do not encourage them to get additional knowledge on the topic. This form of mentality is against the main goals of education. Exams only tie up the mind of students to certain principles that are unclear instead of setting them free so that they can explore new knowledge (Gnad).
  • Furthermore, although exams are marked using the same standards, it remains eminent that different examiners may grade the same paper differently. Cases of favoritism are also evident in exams. Students can also coerce teachers to change their marks. These kinds of inefficiencies prove that exams do not measure what they are meant to measure. While I do not advocate for a system that is totally perfect, I believe that inefficiencies presented by exams as a way of an assessment prove that the method is very ineffective. The method needs to be replaced with an alternative method that can capture various aspects in a more comprehensive way (Morris).

From the various arguments presented above, it is undisputable that exams need to be replaced with another alternative method of assessing students. Inefficiencies revealed by exams prove that exams cannot assess students fairly. Inconsistencies and inefficiencies prove that exams do not measure what they are intended to measure. End results are students who cannot apply what they have learned in class, but they can pass exams. These students will be irrelevant in the job market since they cannot apply theoretical skills (Little).

Nevertheless, opponents paint a different scenario

  • Firstly, they argue that different variables such as intelligence and competence cannot be measured accurately by any method since they are not straightforward. As a result, there is a need for a formal system that will help in measuring such variables so that the education system can remain relevant. There is a need of accessing differences that exist in the levels of knowledge as well as experience. Opponents strongly argue that there is no other method that can test students in an impartial manner like exams. Exams have clear and measurable outcomes and, thus, they are not vague. For this reason, exams should not be replaced with alternative methods of assessing students (Dowling).
  • Secondly, opponents argue that exams are still relevant. They argue that proponents do not appreciate the fact that exams are better off than the lack of any test. According to opponents, although exams are not perfect, they help to some extent. Opponents agree that cheating prevails in exams, but they also reiterate that exams do not cheat. They pose a strong argument that these are prevailing conditions that allow cheating, but the exam does not cheat. Opponents argue that individuals should focus on ways of improving existing conditions so as to ensure that cheating does not prevail instead of doing away with exams. Opponents challenge proponents to accept the hard reality that there is no alternative method that can be perfect and, thus, the focus should be on improving on exams (Morris).
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  • In addition, opponents challenge proposed alternatives such as discussions and group works as ways of assessing students. They discredit such alternatives by arguing that cheating also prevails in such methods. Students are more likely to copy from other students in a group work than when they are in the exam since there is supervision. Moreover, group works can promote laziness in one way or the other. Students can take advantage of hard working students and they fail to do their work since they know that they will be graded as a group and they will get equal marks. In case of exams, they are very specific. They gauge individual capacity and, thus, it is possible to get more accurate results than when people are assessed as a group (Dowling).
  • Opponents also believe that exams provide an excellent way of measuring understanding and knowledge. In addition, exams measure the ability of an individual to express him or herself. What an individual writes in an exam is a clear indication of what an individual has learned. If there were no exams, individuals would not even bother working hard since they would hold an assumption that they know everything while that may not be true. Opponents challenge proponents to recognize that without exams education system will be irrelevant (Gnad).

In conclusion, I believe that exams should be replaced with an alternative method of assessment. Exams do not provide a fair playing ground. They do not recognize diversity among students. Teachers do not focus on ensuring that exams are useful to students, but they only administer them since they are mandatory. Cheating is prevalent in exams and, thus, the main aim of exams is undermined. It is unfortunate that exams produce students who cannot apply theoretical skills into practice. Students always read so that they can excel in their exams, but they never seek knowledge.

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