Exams Have Become Obsolete
I know educators are still in denial when it comes to examinations; examinations are still venerated in their world. They give tough exams the way their educators gave tough exams – and the cycle seems endless. However, when we really think about it, in today’s Google age, what do exams really measure?
1) They measure the ability to cope under examination pressure
2) They measure mugging ability (in terms of speed and quantity)
3) They measure the ability to understand complex problems and solve them within a particular time span.
They measure the capacity of short-term memory but what about the long term. Just because a person could solve a particular examination question today, does that mean that they will be able to solve it after one year? Two years? Assuming the person didn’t know how to answer an exam’s question, does that inspire the student to actually go after the exam – especially final exam – and check what the answer is. Most probably not.
Is the ability to solve an exam necessary in the workforce? I mean, seriously, think about it. 80% of what we learn in uni won’t be used at work. Forget that. Let’s say you were given an engineering problem to solve in the real world. Would it matter whether you’ve memorized how to solve it, or you have referred to a book while doing it? No, the bottom line is the same. As long as you got the correct answer, it doesn’t matter what approach you used.
Afterall, the real world is an open book exam. Real world problem are more challenging as they don’t deal with half the assumptions we deal with during examinations. Think about it. How many times did you neglect friction since your high school physics? A lot, right. Was a car designed to neglect friction?
In our Google era, the smart people are not only those who know too much, but also those who can sift through the myriad of information available to determine what is right and what is wrong. That means that smart people are actually researchers – not only examination-acers.
Do examinations build thinkers? Do examinations build outside the box thinkers? Do examinations enhance creativity?
But educators still cling to examinations because they have no other way to assess the performance of a student, and much as you’d love them to, but they can’t give everybody As.
So what do you think? Should examinations be canceled? What should they be replaced with?