Why Tests Are No Longer The Best Way To Gauge Success


We’ve all had those nights: the 3 am, coffee-fueled, "my eyes are too dry to blink" nights. Those are the nights we stay up into the wee hours of the morning, cramming 10 chapters worth of information into our brains to prepare for an exam the following day.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of a day in the life of a Millennial, our goals are simple: Be the best possible individuals we can be, at whatever cost. In an academic setting, this means achieving superior grades to those of your peers.

Millennials are fast-paced in nature. With the demanding nature of college and/or the typical workplace coupled with the advanced technology at the ready, it is a challenge to slow down.

Traditionally, exams are given to students at a certain point in the semester to measure how much they have learned throughout the class.

However, as academia and technology have progressed, tests may not be the best medium to assess a student’s knowledge.

Many students admit to cheating at some point in their academic careers. In fact, according to a significant analysis of adolescents enrolled in higher education, 75 percent admitted to it.

However, cheating cannot be entirely attributed to dishonesty, as there are other forces at play throughout these circumstances.

1. Students value grades more than the actual learning process because there is considerably more pressure on our GPA, SAT and ACT scores.

Cheating is an easy fix to elevate our scores without applying too much effort.

2. We may not fully understand or appreciate the subject. No one’s pointing fingers, but everyone has had a negative experience with a professor.

Just because you’re attending one of the best universities does not mean you’re always going to get the best professors. There are tradeoffs to being a professor.

The job cuts into your research time, experience and money. As a professor, one may not be so inclined to focus all his or her energy onto students. However, in most cases, if the professor is not enthusiastic about the subject, the student’s level of excitement will be quite low, as well.

3. The pressure to do well in school is so real.

Parents, teachers, administrators and peers nurture ample amounts of competitive energy in school to the point where we take on the stress. By the time we leave high school, a "B" is just as good as failing.

Memorization also hinders the learning process. Instead of understanding what something means, we memorize, often losing sight of what the actual meat and potatoes of the lesson are.

Robotically memorizing material and then brain dumping post-test is a normal study habit for most Millennials. Therefore, these facts force us to question if tests are the best way to assess if students are learning.

I don’t think "measurable" is an accurate word to describe tests anymore, given the array of different methods one may utilize to cheat the system.

Instead of placing an emphasis on copious amounts of exams, class projects and presentations may be a viable alternative. In my personal academic experience, I have found that I remember the assignments best when I immerse myself in the material.

Whether it was writing a research paper, putting together an extensive project or understanding and rehearsing material for a presentation, hands-on coursework has remained engraved in my brain throughout my school years.

Those crazy, exhausting nights will still exist, but they will exist differently. Instead of scrambling to shove the information into our brains, we might be excited about our end goals.

As upper-level educational culture has evolved, tests are not necessarily the best way to gauge a student’s knowledge.