EXAMS. Grade Killers or Learning Tools?

Kyle Swenson, Staff Writer
April 2, 2012
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

Exams,  whether students love or loathe them, they are an inevitable part of their lives. The thought of the pre-exam week has the power to make any high schooler nauseous with anxiety. But aside from all the negative feelings associated with exams, these tests have the intention of solidifying the information taught throughout the year for the student’s future benefit.

A two-hour exam is equal to four and a half weeks of quizzes, tests, homework, and classwork combined. That’s why they’re worth twenty percent of students’ grades. Hence, the fear of a plummeting grade as a result of a failed final.

Sophomore, Bito Pimenta thinks it is fair for exams to be 20% of the course’s final grade.

“We need to be held accountable for all of the knowledge that we have learned during the semester,”  said Pimenta.  “If a student does all the homework and studies for every test, then everything should just pan out and a good grade should be achieved.”

The idea that exams are not an attempt to puncture our semester grades is an idea that is perceived by students from freshman to seniors. Senior David Brown said, “The exam is an overview of the entire year. If you did well during that whole time, then the exam should be easy.”

Calvary’s staff believes in the benefits of exams as well. Director of Academics, Mr. David Salvatelli said, “We don’t want students going through classes with knowledge coming in one ear and out the other. The opportunity the midterm and final exams provide is for students to demonstrate terminal understanding of the course.”

So, even though exams may be stressful things to study for, especially knowing that they can make or break your final mark in a class, being able to study in the proper manner not only will achieve the best results, but will ensure that the material is fully learned.

To be most efficient in a test, each step of your study should be keyed to the test situation itself. 

Prepare to deal with the test environment—test taking can be stressful because they have three components:

  1. No Textbooks. No notes. No clues. You will have to recall the information from memory. So, you have to make sure that you not only understand when reading the text, but also remember the material from the first time you study it well enough to pass a test!  This requires knowing how to use the text structure in studying and being able to solve problems WITHOUT looking back at the book!
  2. Stress. Taking tests adds stress. And, your performance tends to deteriorate under stress. So you need to learn the material well enough to remember it under stress.
  3. Time pressure. You have studied several chapters and lectures, learned hundreds of facts, concepts, processes, and solutions. You’ll need to remember this rapidly in the test setting. This is especially important for those tests requiring rapid problem solving. Be sure to understand the textbook structure so that you can learn and remember the content covered, both in class and as homework.

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