Inefficiency of Academic Tests

Everyone has done them, nobody likes doing them, and afterwards the majority of what they forced themselves to remember for them was forgotten. Tests are a universal tool to gauge our abilities to apply our knowledge in a controlled environment, and using the results of those test to determine our ability to retain information and applying it to specific situations. I suppose it’s the easiest way to find out where our strengths lie, but that says nothing for its efficiency. From the perspective of someone who has written their fair share of academic tests – I suppose that makes it a rather biased view, but what opinion is ever said without bias? – I have come to the conclusion that writing tests is not the way to determine our intelligence.

In the majority or real world scenarios, we are not going to be required to have everything memorized. Sure, it’s easier if we have access to every piece of relevant information just by thinking about it, but just imagine how taxing that must be on the human brain. Also, that just raises the standards in the work place when they start expecting you to know everything about everything. We have access to information through different mediums for a reason; so that we don’t have to know everything. Granted, it’s good to have a certain level of knowledge, and to have a means to show others your understanding of certain topics, but written tests create an environment where only a portion of people can excel.

When you’re writing a test, there are several thoughts going through the mind:

– is this test going to be hard?

– did I study enough for this test?

– how well do I need to do on it to pass?

– did I read that question properly?

– which part of my study notes did this question come from?

– what will happen if I fail this test?

– does doing poorly on this make me stupid?

– it could be that answer, but it could also be that one …

So many intruding thoughts, and no matter how much you try to focus on the task at hand, it’s impossible to prevent irrelevant thoughts from floating in to the mind. Tests create a highly stressful and pressurized environment that is not realistic, especially when you’re given only a couple of hours at most to write down everything you know. I suppose the workplace is just as stressful, but you have information mediums available, and the assigned tasks are not made to make you feel like you’re a failure if you don’t do it exactly right.

As always, there are those who completely oppose my ideas, and I accept that. If you do have a difference of opinion, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. There are no wrong answers in life, only some that are more right than others.

Cheers 🙂

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