What student does not dread exams? To quote that famous educationalist (err, maybe not) Eminem “His palms are sweaty, knees weak”, and that certainly sums up how I feel about exams.

As somebody still stuck in the education system, enduring important exams every summer, and taking time to enjoy what’s left of my long summer holiday before starting Uni, my mind has turned to exams, and whether they are really that important, let alone really necessary? And toy with the almost heretical idea that exams be abolished altogether. Who knows, maybe someone may even listen now that everybody’s friend Michael Gove has left education for pastures new.

The point of exams is to monitor a students process, but has this gone to far? Schools, in some ways have become exam result factories, teaching students just how to pass the exams. The aim of the game is memorise, retain, and regurgitate information, so surely this is just a test of your short-term memory rather than your understanding? Is this really a skill that will help you in the world of work? Probably not.

Whilst I was studying for one of my subjects I realised that the same style of questions came up every year requiring exactly the same answers every year. I found myself memorising the answers on the mark schemes and I did well out of it. Obviously this was great for me on an individual basis because I was getting very good marks; but from a national point of view this is very worrying. It would appear that I was a very good candidate when in reality I was just very good at memorising mark schemes. It’s scary to think that there was probably another far better candidate than I, who could think outside the box and came up with very good correct unique and creative answers – none of which were in the mark scheme so were marked as wrong. This just isn’t fair and could write off thousands of people off a subject and possibly a career path they are very talented in. 

Exams do teach you important skills like note taking and time management; but they don’t help students learn the material they are given – just how to memorise it. Students can learn many of these skills through coursework.

It’s clear that students don’t want to do exams, but there’s lots of stuff we don’t want to do but have to do. I guess exams in there own way are trying to be tough to be kind. Exams are giving students an understanding of what it feels like having to do something they don’t like, but with a clear goal that they want to achieve at the end of it.

Everybody is different and has their own learning styles and like Einstein said, ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’. Exams are not suited for everyone. Some people can do really well in exams and should be proud of that, but there are also other people who just can’t hack an exam, but this doesn’t mean that they are lazy or that they are stupid, they are just more suited to coursework. However the exact same thing can be said about coursework too.

Coursework can be unfair. It will be inevitable that better schools will do better in coursework. There will be better teaching and students will have lots of attempts to improve it. In schools that aren’t as good students won’t get as much support and the quality of teaching won’t be as good. So by abolishing exams you could unintentionally be further widening the academic divide between private and state schools.

In class I have often heard my peers ask ‘what is the point of learning this because I will never use it in real life’, and most of the time this is completely true. What I find frustrating about exams is they usually have no real world application; they just fabricate situations. But I don’t think this is a reason to out-right ban them. Government should adapt exam questions and its content so it is relatable to the real world. That way more students will see a point to what they are being shown in class and feel more inclined to listen.

One of the most frustrating things I have found in exams is that you can spend hours and hours revising for something that won’t be in the paper. But exams cannot cover everything in the syllabus – the exams would be far too long.

I could go on and on, and I know that I have made my point by now – they just don’t make sense to me.

Who like me thinks that exams are pointless? What do you think about exams? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.







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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.