It Really is Just a Number

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It’s test day and your heart is pounding against your chest loud enough for everyone to hear. You tell yourself to calm down, and that it’s only a test. But is it really? Today, many students take test grades too seriously. They immediately think of the consequences of not doing well. But why should we worry so much about a mere number? It shouldn’t affect the way you think or what your overall average is, but it does.

Whenever there is a major test, the way students are taught is geared toward performing well on exams. We are taught to solve problems in the way test graders like best. What is the benefit of studying for a subject in one specific way? Students can learn to do things by the test, but that mentality has dangerous implications. In the real world, problems aren’t solved in a preferred manner or by a specific technique, they are simply solved. There is no grade, there is simply do or don’t. By overemphasizing tests, we as students can be led to unrealistic beliefs about the real world and begin thinking that there will always be a right answer or a right way to solve a problem.

Test mentality aside, there is also the question of whether testing is even a good evaluation method in itself. Tests usually count for 40%-70% on many school contracts. More weight should be given to classwork, homework, and participation. This way, we can be evaluated in a less stressful way. Classwork, homework, and participation are better measures of student performance because they examine if we pay attention in class, understand the topic, and if we need any help. Arguably, tests serve the same purpose, but provide a stressful and unfair singular opportunity to show this. Also, tests do not account for why a student performed the way they did. A combination of class work, participation, and homework would help teachers better understand where students need help, as opposed to the simplistic “you know it or not” philosophy of tests.

Test grades are really just numbers. Passing a class shouldn’t mean that you’re good at taking tests but that you learned and understood the material taught to you. We should be tested without knowing it, because the teachers will see if you know the facts, and if you do, that’s what matters. We shouldn’t be taught around the idea of succeeding in a test, but instead, be taught to try to succeed in life.