|Counterpoint: Are exams useful?|
|Written by Laura Green|
|Thursday, 08 December 2011|
Valuable lessons for life
‘Tis the season of overwhelmed, overworked and exhausted college students.
Yes, exam season is upon us, which brings a great opportunity for students to show how much they have learned over the semester. They create a perfect summary of the information covered and are a great way to display course content.
You show up to class every day throughout the term ready to learn something. Typically there are chapters cited in textbooks and you are expected to read them. Sure, it may be over 100 pages of things you never want to hear of again, but it is still important material that you are expected to learn as a student.
Future employers will see a diploma or degree on your resumé, and will expect you to be able to complete every task or know every piece of information that you should have learned throughout the program. If you skip out on the readings, you could also be skipping out on prime employment.
On top of textbooks, you have the notes you’ve taken in class – or just copied off someone else – that you should go through to refresh yourself. This helps renew any forgotten information or examples that could be useful.
Exams that cover the basics are easy. If you read the material and paid attention in class, you will ace it.
Then there are the harder exams. They can include trick questions, lengthy essay questions or have multiple correct answers. These things are put in place to really stress your knowledge of the topic and to help you think outside of the box and apply the topic to everyday situations.
Questions like these will take the material you’ve studied and relate it to other scenarios. If you truly understood the material and haven’t just memorized what the page looks like, you will be able to relate these things to whatever you can encounter on a hard exam, or more importantly: real life.
Let’s say for example that you are a nursing student. Let’s also say that on your exam, you are asked a question that is completely irrelevant to the practical studies you’ve encountered all semester. You may think it’s completely ridiculous, and you will instantly get stressed out or even angry at your professor.
In reality, you should be thanking him or her.
These types of questions will prepare you for when you are in the working world. If you are at your placement or even your first real job, and you encounter some sort of medical mystery or extremely bizarre case, I can bet that you will not have read about this exact case in your textbook.
In this scenario, you need to exhaust everything you’ve learned to try to get to the bottom of it. And if you hadn’t had that exam to study for, you never would have paid any attention to the fine detail and could have easily overlooked something that could save a person’s life.
Exams – or more so the method behind exams – really do test us on everything that we’ve learned. It may not be a black and white regurgitation of information, but it will test your ultimate knowledge – not what you’ve memorized, but what you’ve legitimately learned throughout the term.
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