Should formal examination determine student success?

eAdarsha.com Reporter
Jun 08, 2021
myanmar-5204379_1280

Image: Pixabay

Khushi Gurung: In the past few years, many colleges and universities have started evaluating their students through course assignments, project works, and class participation rather than formal examinations. However, educational establishments in some societies still believe examinations as a tool to enhance knowledge and determine a student’s intelligence or abilities. I believe that, to a certain extent, formal examinations do not always reflect a student’s true capability.

Firstly, formal examinations can be quite unfair for many students. For example, a talented student could not productively study for the examinations due to unforeseen circumstances like getting ill or if he/she has had some emotional shock or stress. As a result, he or she will receive a low score. If the student did well on class tests and assignments throughout the year, it is not fair for the student to be assessed based on their performance on a certain day and hour of an exam. Moreover, some students who have a good memory and are also smart may struggle to perform under stressful and time-constrained environments like that of an examination center. As a result, formal exams may not always reveal a student’s actual competence.


It is not fair for the student to be assessed based on their performance on a certain day and hour of an exam.

However, some people may argue that formal examinations are an excellent factor to evaluate a student’s performance because they provide a single platform and timetable for all students to demonstrate their abilities. This system also allows teachers to see how much their students have learned throughout their studies and gives them insight into each student’s learning ability. In addition, formal examinations are a functional approach to evaluate a student’s memory and understanding ability.

On the contrary, examinations may prove to be not much of a help because many educational institutions are teaching a pre-determined curriculum to the students, only to pass a specific examination. This approach restricts the curriculum to information provided in the books at best. This process does not bring many educational advantages and practical knowledge to the students.
Most people believe that continuous evaluation, such as coursework and projects, is a better way to evaluate a student’s progress.

Image: Pixabay

Teachers believe that analyzing students regularly decreases the stress that they experience during formal tests. These individual and group assignments also help evaluate the student’s capabilities such as communication, analytical, and presenting skills, as well as a variety of other strengths such as teamwork or leadership skills, which are difficult to examine in a formal examination system.
Furthermore, students should be encouraged to complete their projects and other necessary activities to check if they have understood and utilized the information which they have been taught in class. If this is done, then the grades will reflect the student’s actual intelligence rather than their memorization. Students who work at a slower pace, on the other hand, can also spend more time on their course work and projects if continuous assessment is followed.

In conclusion, both formal examinations and continuous evaluation are effective in different ways. Even though a grade sheet has represented a student’s progress according to a specified numerical standard in the past, sometimes it does not truly show a student’s creativity and ability. In the long run, other less formal assessments such as coursework or individual presentation that are more useful in developing practical skills required in adult life, and which also accurately estimate a student’s overall knowledge should be used.

Khushi is a first year BBA student, currently enrolled at Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM).