Bynion’s Opinion: Re-examine examinations

Copy Editor Taylor Bynion often finds herself wishing there was a way to overcome life’s daily inconveniences, struggles, and challenges. This column gives her a space to share her feelings on everything from minor annoyances to more prominent issues, and hopefully make some positive changes along the way.


I can’t remember how to do this math problem. It’s 9 p.m. and I still have to study history. And I just remembered I haven’t practiced for my Spanish oral exam. Help! My brain is turning to mush because I’ve been working non-stop all day.

Exams are stressful for most students. Not only do we have to sit through a one-and-a-half-hour long test, but the time taken to prepare is overwhelming and maddening.

What is the real purpose for midterms and final exams? I ask myself this question every year.

Sometimes, I find myself so stressed and consumed with studying that I forget the true reason for exams: to test what students should already know and the knowledge they have gained throughout the course.

But, if a student stress-studies and crams leading up to exams, the exam doesn’t really test the student’s knowledge on the course material. Having students study for hours right before the exam doesn’t show that they really learned any of the material throughout the year. It only shows that a student can cram a plethora of information into their brains and can then regurgitate it onto a test.

And students, how many times have you walked into an exam, sat down, looked at the test in front of you and thought, “I don’t know any of the answers. We never learned any of this,” only after having studied for hours for the assessment?

Personally, the scenario mentioned above has happened to me a few times, and that was after studying before in preparation for the exam. Again, that doesn’t test a student’s knowledge on what they have learned. If the material on the exam wasn’t covered in class, how are students still expected to do well?

Teachers should thoroughly go over all the material that will be covered on the exam. If students are expected to do well, then they should know what to study and what to expect to see on the exam. If students blindly walk into an exam that includes material not covered in class, they cannot be expected to do well.

This is why exams are unproductive and unfair. They don’t test students on the knowledge they gained throughout the course.

A better and more fair alternative for exams is a non-graded assessment given at the middle and end of a course to better judge what the student has actually learned and retained. Without students studying for long hours and preparing, it would better judge the comprehension and application of material taught. Studying for hours can’t prove what the student retained, and giving an exam full of information not covered in class does not test what the student has learned.

Overall, exams should not be a challenge. If an exam is fair and focuses on what was taught in class, then hours and hours of studying would not be required, and students will feel prepared without fear of seeing material on the exam that was never taught.

Taylor Bynion is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and