Examinations have been part and parcel of formal education for centuries. From
this long history, it is obvious that examinations are thought to be necessary
in education. Today, however, there are some arguments against the use of
examinations alone to gauge the ability of a student. In my opinion,
examinations have both advantages and disadvantages.
To begin with,
examinations provide a convenient way of measuring what students know. To my
knowledge, there is no easier method of checking how much a student has learnt.
The students' performance in an examination also allows a teacher to check the
effectiveness of his or her teaching methods. If necessary, the teacher can
improve their methods in order to ensure that the students learn better.
Examinations are also a motivation for students to work hard to learn. Every
parent is familiar with how difficult it is to get a child to study if there are
no upcoming examinations to make them work. Without examinations, most students
would not see the need to study. Besides the fear of failing examinations, the
promise of rewards from teachers and parents for excellent results also serves
as a powerful motivation for students to put more effort into their studies.
Nevertheless, examinations are limited in what they can test and are
therefore not perfect as a means of gauging a student's ability. For one thing,
examinations tend to evaluate a rather small part of learning. For example, an
examination can test whether a student knows the steps in carrying out a
scientific experiment, but it cannot find out if the student has any problem
actually doing the experiment. Furthermore, there is no way that a written
examination can test a student's soft skills such as social skills and the
ability to work in a team.
In conclusion, examinations have had a long history in formal education, and
it is unlikely that they will stop being used. They are useful for checking on
what has been learnt and as a form of motivation for students to study. However,
examinations have limitations. Hence, it is only logical to use other methods of
gauging a student's ability along with examinations.