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Too much emphasis is placed on testing these days

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					Too much emphasis is placed on testing these days. The need to prepare for tests and
examinations is a restriction on teachers and also exerts unnecessary pressure on young learners.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?


In many schools and academic institutions throughout the world today there has been a shift from
formal examinations and tests to assessment based on home assignments and tutorial or class
presentations. This change has been welcomed by many educationalists who view formal exams
and testing as an unreliable and inadequate means of evaluating a student's achievements. On the
other hand, supporters of regular formal testing lament the lack of rigour and 'dumbing down'
heralded by these changes and claim that important mental skills, exercised under exam
conditions, have been devalued.

One valid argument against regular and excessive testing is that it distracts teachers from his or
her primary task; teaching. Nowadays, teachers are being held more and more accountable for the
academic fortunes of their students and this often results in a preoccupation with strategies for
passing exams rather than with learning itself. A recent survey on learning second languages in
Greece found that the poor performance of students studying English for the Cambridge
examinations was attributable in part to the disproportionate amount of time spent on practice
with past papers rather than the expansion of the students' knowledge and use of the language.

On the other hand, proponents of regular, formal testing maintain that the need for regular
monitoring of a student's progress justifies frequent testing since this enables teachers to provide
continual feedback to their students.

The argument that a heavy emphasis on testing places unnecessary pressure on young students is
rather flimsy. Rather that abolish or scale down testing teachers can assist students how to
minimise stress and encourage them to take formal assessment in their stride.

In conclusion, while examinations and tests should never become an end in themselves or a
substitute for genuine teaching and learning, they do demand mental skills which play an
important part in a student's intellectual development and provide teachers with valuable data on
the progress of their students. For these reasons, their retention as part of a balanced mix of
assessment procedures is justified.
In many academic institutions throughout the world there has been a shift from formal
examinations and tests to assessment based on home assignments and tutorial presentations. The
rationale for this change is based on the view that learning is best served when young students
are at liberty to take more control over their learning rather than regularly regurgitating a body of
knowledge dictated and imparted by their teachers. Educationalists that discredit formal
testing as a viable means of assessing young students' may be well-intentioned but they are
mistaken.

One of the arguments for abolishing or reducing formal testing according to the anti-testing
fraternity is the undue pressure placed on young students whose performance may well fall
below that of which they are capable under the strain of exam conditions. This mollycoddling
approach is flawed for a number of reasons.

Firstly, students are required to demonstrate important intellectual skills in an exam situation
which may not be called upon in a more relaxed assessment task. The ability to marshal ideas
under pressure, to write fluently within time restrictions and to recall information and data are
just some of the mental skills transferable to real life situations after students graduate.

Formal testing has the additional benefit of generating a spirit of healthy competition. Most
young people relish the opportunity to measure their achievements against those of their peers
and the prospect of a formal exam can often spur students on to greater effort and commitment.

Moreover, formal testing conducted under examination conditions offers some safeguards
against plagiarism which has become a serious problem for teachers trying to assess their
students. Lazy and dishonest students who present with impunity essays and assignments lifted
from the internet as original work find this fraud impossible in a formal exam.

In conclusion, formal examinations and tests should be reinstated as the primary means of
evaluating students' work. They are the fairest and most objective form of assessment; they
engender a healthy competitive spirit and offer students the opportunity to demonstrate important
mental skills.

				
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posted:3/9/2010
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