Frequent exams for any student and any formal exam for children under 10 are likely injurious to their interest for learning. The reason is: gradually in several years most of these students will delete their year-round-study days except the exam-nights. In other words, they sit for studies only at exam nights. Statistically what I have found is that among 40 students in my class at tertiary level only 2 or 3 students read some other times before exams.
Interestingly, according to Educational Psychology one author remarked wittily, “Interest is the mother of attention, and attention is the mother of memory”. In other words, if interest is lost, attention is lost. If attention is lost, memory is lost. If memory is lost, nothing remains.The value of character in modern time has been swapped for the value of interest in learning. Before 21st century Billy Graham said, “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
Commonly known, exam is the ultimate disaster in student’s happy life. If no exam, student life will become full of pleasure without any disturbance. Still it is exam that binds the students together. Without exams students will not get together, and as a result, they will lose their pleasure and fun thoroughly. Therefore, it is exam that plays the vital role for the happiness of a student life.
As exam comes in order to enhance and strengthen learning of the students, it is essential, and even part and parcel of learning. Still it has backwash. It has detrimental effects. It has reverse effects. It even destroys learning. Just let me tell you an imaginary story as follows:
One father is very unhappy with his son as he hardly studies. Interestingly, he finds his son sitting on the reading chair with a book. Now the father becomes surprised and tries to find out what makes his son study. Later he learns that the son has got an exam the following morning. Then he realizes the fact: the more exams, the more learning. He goes to his son’s school and recommends to have many exams back and forth so that his son studies regularly. And subsequently, frequent exams have been administered. Now the father is happy with the son. After some months the father becomes unhappy again. Once again he finds the same fact: his son reads only the night before the exam. All are the same.
It is not all. “Excessive of anything is bad.” At one point, something is good, at another it becomes bad and then worse and then the worst. For example, students are forced to go to schools, to coaching centres and to home tutors. As a result, they get over-burdened and lose their taste for learning. As I said earlier, if interest or taste is lost, everything is lost even for ever. What happens to those students when they start studying in a tertiary level. They do not go to university. Even when they go, they do not attend their classes. Why? It is all because they are saturated. They do not have their interest any longer. And as their parents cannot control or guide their sons and daughters at this age, they are now on their own. They can now do whatever they want. The parents do not have any control over them.
You know how bad it is for your children when they miss classes. Unfortunately, you do not know how little it is compared to the loss when he misses a class in tertiary level. A university class usually carries 0.5 mark. In every semester he gets 10 marks out of 100 only because he has attended all 20 to 26 classes. Besides, he gets good marks if he attends class tests or presentations. And everyone knows the fact if a student attends classes regularly, he gets the idea how to prepare for the exam. All these advantages he will not avail only because he is absolutely disturbed in his school and college life. He does not care what will happen to him. He only cares how he can avoid studies.The main purpose of an exam is two-folded: reward and punishment. As you are afraid of punishment you will study more for exam. And if you learn well, you will be rewarded with a good result. Philosophically, if you study more, you will learn more.
Unfortunately, frequent exams drive away your deliberate anxiety, and subsequently, you will study less and less. In addition, you will study in such a way so that you can perform well in the exam, no matter how much you will learn; or you will not learn at all. That is why linguists say, if an exam is in the way of learning, the exam should go. It is only because an exam is there to help promote learning among students. So, an exam must enhance learning. If it disturbs or block learning, it must go.
The writer is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Language Centre, University of Information Technology & Sciences (UITS).