"Examinations" - This is a word that causes sleepless nights,
a word can change a cheerful person into a nervous wreck. So, what are
examinations, and how can they be any good?
An examination can be defined as a detailed inspection or analysis of an object
or person. For example, an engineer will examine a structure, like a bridge, to
see if it is safe. A doctor may conduct a medical examination to gauge whether a
patient is healthy. In the school context, it is the students who take the
examinations. These are usually a series of comprehensive tests held at the end
of each term, year or, in the case of public examinations, after a few years.
One of the main purposes of school examinations is to improve the quality of
education. From the results of the examinations, the teachers and planners of
the curriculum will be able to gauge the extent to which the students have
acquired the knowledge and skills of the course material. This would, first of
all, provide an evaluation of their teaching methods, so they can improve them,
Examinations are also used as a yardstick for measuring the capability of the
candidate, for further education or employment. For example, examination results
are the main criteria when selecting students for entrance into universities. It
is assumed that the examination results would indicate whether or not the
student will be able to handle the course. In the case of employment, it is felt
that the examination results will indicate whether or not the job seeker has the
skills or intelligence to handle the job.
However, does the school examination system provide an accurate yardstick of the
candidate's ability? Albert Einstein, at the age of 16, took the entrance exam
to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, but failed and so was rejected by
this elite school. Yet, Einstein went on to develop the theory of relativity and
quantum theory, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics at the age of 42. Other
examples of famous achievers who failed in school examinations would include
Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and Bill Gates.
One may also question whether the present examination system
results in better teaching in schools. In fact, some teachers are so pressured
to produce good examination results that they are forced to practise poor
teaching methods. They may race through the syllabus, ignoring the fact that the
weaker students have not grasped some of the concepts. Some other teachers may
concentrate on popular examination topics, ignoring the topics which are rarely
tested in the examinations.
Pressure to succeed in examinations may also be detrimental to the students.
They may be so filled with anxiety and stress that they do not enjoy their
school years. They may be studying only to get good examination results, rather
than a rounded education. Some of the weaker students, who cannot seem to
achieve good examination results, may lose interest in their studies. In extreme
cases, students may be so frustrated or disappointed in their results that they
may consider ending their lives.
In conclusion, I realise that examinations are necessary and useful in many
areas of our lives. However, within the school system, they should be given less
emphasis or conducted in a different way. Furthermore, educationists, employers
and students themselves should be reminded that examination results may not
provide the best assessment of an individual's talents and capabilities.