Poll: Are tests practical anymore?
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View poll results: Are tests practical anymore?
Yes
24 57%
I'm a bitch-ass fence sitter
9 21%
No
9 21%
Voters: 42.
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#1
Test - an assessment of knowledge


We've all taken thousands of tests in our lives. Some easy. Some cripplingly difficult. Maybe all of them were cripplingly difficult if you're dumb idk


Is the test "outdated"? Are they really relevant or fair anymore? Does it speak to the impracticality of a test when the instructor has to say "put your smartphones and calculators away"?


Some schools have done away with final exams entirely, and rightly so. Should all tests be done away with? Should they only apply to certain age groups? Post thoughts on tests, their effectiveness, and all that shit.
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#2
In my highschool math course exam, we were given a sheet of paper with virtuall all the basic formulas (of the topic). So we didn't have to memorise them, we just needed to know the concepts and how to apply the formulas with the question

Just took a development psychology exam, and we were able to write a 'cheat sheet'. So we filled out the front and the back of topics that we weren't sure on, so that if such a question came up in the test, we'd be able to plug it in. That was actually really cool, because in order for it to be effective, you had to learn and familiarise yourself with your weaker points of knowledge.
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#3
You can't use 'open book' with your phones because you need to prove to have some mastery at the foundation, with the logic and the 'why are we doing this/does this make sense/etc.'

Standardized tests aren't the best at proving mastery and might encourage a more 'memory' kind of learning, but good for getting in the swing of meeting deadlines/etc.
#4
Exams are more of a memory test than anything.

I got an A in my maths GCSE and I can't remember shit about maths now.
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#5
Quote by Baby Joel
In my highschool math course exam, we were given a sheet of paper with virtuall all the basic formulas (of the topic). So we didn't have to memorise them, we just needed to know the concepts and how to apply the formulas with the question

Just took a development psychology exam, and we were able to write a 'cheat sheet'. So we filled out the front and the back of topics that we weren't sure on, so that if such a question came up in the test, we'd be able to plug it in. That was actually really cool, because in order for it to be effective, you had to learn and familiarise yourself with your weaker points of knowledge.



But I think the larger point is: could you pass that test if you took it right now?


Quote by Fat Lard
You can't use 'open book' with your phones because you need to prove to have some mastery at the foundation, with the logic and the 'why are we doing this/does this make sense/etc.'

Standardized tests aren't the best at proving mastery and might encourage a more 'memory' kind of learning, but good for getting in the swing of meeting deadlines/etc.



Mastery at the foundation of remembering what year Alexander Hamilton died? Most tests in primary school ages are just "do you remember X?"
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Last edited by StewieSwan at Jul 19, 2015,
#6
I think testing is still relevant and probably always will be though the way that we are tested could always stand to improve. Education as a whole (at least in the states) really needs to improve too, but we already knew that.
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#7
Generally, I'd say yes.

People bemoan tests in their entirety, but I simply chalk that up to either poor test design or that person being a weeny (Eastwinn, 2015.)
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#8
Quote by StewieSwan
Mastery at the foundation of remembering what year Alexander Hamilton died? Most tests in primary school ages are just "do you remember X?"


Our history classes were more short answers, with one last 1 pg 'essay' questions.

Those type of questions are more along the lines of 'busy work' I'd say
#10
When you study for an exam, you study how to pass an exam primarily, and the actual coursework is secondary.

As a prime example, I nearly failed a course this semester simply due to the fact that I had no past exams to go off of when revising and so I was unprepared for the exams style, what kind of questions there would be ect. The fault lies somewhere with my lecturer, for writing a fkin hard exam, me for not preparing correctly (laziness), and exams for being shitty at testing people's knowledge.

not to brag, but if I get 80% in coursework, and then barely scrape the hurdle of 40% in the test, then there's something wrong there, I'd hate to see the bodycount in my cohort after this class.

In general I think most people are moving away from the memorisation parts of testing, as all of my subjects (STEM) now have formula sheets. as an aside, my stats lecturer, who despised exams, was campaigning to get us cheat sheets, and to ultimately replace the exam as a major course component. didn't pan out though.
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#11
It completely depends on the subject and what the questions the test ask.

Some may require you to have a good understanding of the course material, while others merely require you to memorise a piece of information, which isn't learning.

Either way, I personally think the education system is a poor one for all kinds of reasons.
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#12
What kind of test, though? All knowledge has to be tested in some way before a qualification is earned and awarded.
Sit down at a desk, in a hall, be silent for 3 hours while you try to evolve a photographic memory of your textbooks to answer some questions? Nah, that's just a cop out by some lazy fuckwad who couldn't think of a better alternative and it's never been changed.
#14
Quote by ehbacon
on the fence. I don't think it is a great way of measuring one's knowledge of a subject, but I do think it is the best way available.



I disagree. I think a practical application project would be an infinitely better way of assessing what someone has learned. Additionally, many people have severe test anxiety and their assessed knowledge is significantly less than what they actually know about the subject.
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#15
Quote by StewieSwan at #33508604
I disagree. I think a practical application project would be an infinitely better way of assessing what someone has learned. Additionally, many people have severe test anxiety and their assessed knowledge is significantly less than what they actually know about the subject.

some people are bad with tests, some are bad with projects. There isn't a solution that is fair for 100% of students. If you mean an out of school project, like homework, that is especially unfair to the people who have to go to work and do other activities; because though a project like that needs a good idea, it also needs a lot of time devoted to it. Some people don't have that kinda time. And if it's an in class project, then some could argue it isn't that different from a test.

It's really a no win scenario.
#16
Quote by ehbacon
some people are bad with tests, some are bad with projects. There isn't a solution that is fair for 100% of students. If you mean an out of school project, like homework, that is especially unfair to the people who have to go to work and do other activities; because though a project like that needs a good idea, it also needs a lot of time devoted to it. Some people don't have that kinda time. And if it's an in class project, then some could argue it isn't that different from a test.

It's really a no win scenario.



I think the difference lies in the fact that a project is "real world". If you suck at projects, then you deserve what grade you get, because it is actually reflective of how you will perform in that field. If you can't apply your knowledge, then it's useless.
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#17
Tests also help to show you can solve problems under pressure (that pressure could be that the exam result decides which uni you go to).
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#18
Quote by Woffelz
Tests also help to show you can solve problems under pressure (that pressure could be that the exam result decides which uni you go to).



That's a fair point.
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#19
We've had some exams that were designed in a way that you were allowed to have all your notes with you but only a good understanding of the material at hand would allow you to pass. The notes were there so that you could look up all the necessary equations and certain examples of how those equations were used. I think we need more tests like that.
#20
Quote by Woffelz
Tests also help to show you can solve problems under pressure (that pressure could be that the exam result decides which uni you go to).


While this holds value, in actual society, a big portion requires you to not only have a degree, but have prior work experience. This prior work experience is not totally unrelated to dealing with pressure.

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#21
i know you mean in an academic sense but they should start retesting old drivers because most of them are a complete danger to everyone and themselves
#22
Quote by StewieSwan at #33508626
I think the difference lies in the fact that a project is "real world". If you suck at projects, then you deserve what grade you get, because it is actually reflective of how you will perform in that field. If you can't apply your knowledge, then it's useless.

this is a pretty good point
#23
I don't get the point of tests in some classes. Like my English class on Shakespeare where we had to identify passages and who was talking and the context. Who tf cares?
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#24
I recently passed my driving exam (yeah, 5 years too late) and I'm still wondering what the point is.

You have 12 obligatory lessons with the instructor here, which can be more. Overall it takes about a month. In the meantime, obviously, the instructor knows how you drive, gets to know you etc. This can normally take over a month.

And, after that, to have a drivers license, I have to be examined by someone I've never met before, who's observing me under the extreme stress and anxiety of a driving exam...And the instructor doesn't get a say in it?

Explain...
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#25
Quote by Krieger91 at #33508675
And, after that, to have a drivers license, I have to be examined by someone I've never met before, who's observing me under the extreme stress and anxiety of a driving exam...And the instructor doesn't get a say in it?

Explain...

Really? So we know you can drive a car without your instructor holding your hand, in circumstances that can include stress and anxiety.
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Last edited by ErikLensherr at Jul 19, 2015,
#26
While the test itself may be pointless, the experience of studying for and taking a test teaches you important skills. You learn the importance of preparation and discipline, how to pick out and remember the most useful information, and how to do arbitary tasks under pressure.
Also, if there were no final exam (or any form of evaluation), students would have less motivation to study.

It's far from being an ideal method of evaluating students' performance but it still has its uses.
#27
Quote by sashki
Also, if there were no final exam (or any form of evaluation), students would have less motivation to study.



There are mountains of research showing that once you take the test you almost immediately lose all the information you studied, so aside from proving that at a certain point in time you knew a thing, what is the goal?
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#28
Quote by StewieSwan
There are mountains of research showing that once you take the test you almost immediately lose all the information you studied, so aside from proving that at a certain point in time you knew a thing, what is the goal?

The goal is to discipline yourself to do what is asked of you. They told you there'd be a test. It's your responsibility to prepare for it. Even if you don't retain any of the information aftwards, the act of preparing to take a test is itself an important skill that you will use later in life.
#29
Quote by StewieSwan at #33508688
There are mountains of research showing that once you take the test you almost immediately lose all the information you studied, so aside from proving that at a certain point in time you knew a thing, what is the goal?

Doesn't that depend on whether you give a shit about the material though? Most students, I'd wager, only care about passing or maybe just not failing a test. If you do care about what comes after, and building on the knowledge that you've learned, you probably will retain what you've studied. Am I off base here?
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#30
Tests are a good concept, however they're not administered in the correct way - more often than not relying on memory skills as opposed to testing problem solving, research and critical thinking. Environment of pressured, timed, testing is also problematic and timed tests/exams favour those who work quickly and under pressure as opposed to those with a perhaps more measured and slow response.

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#31
Quote by CL/\SH
Doesn't that depend on whether you give a shit about the material though? Most students, I'd wager, only care about passing or maybe just not failing a test. If you do care about what comes after, and building on the knowledge that you've learned, you probably will retain what you've studied. Am I off base here?



I think so. I've studied hard for tests on material that I am genuinely interested in and I find myself forgetting much of it, because you have to start workin' on the next test. Then the final comes around and you have to remember shit that you learned months ago, so you relearn all that, take the test, and then fuck off for a couple weeks and lose everything. It's just a broken-ass concept.


Quote by sashki
The goal is to discipline yourself to do what is asked of you. They told you there'd be a test. It's your responsibility to prepare for it. Even if you don't retain any of the information aftwards, the act of preparing to take a test is itself an important skill that you will use later in life.



Oh please
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#32
The problem is that not all subjects lend themselves to problem solving-based tests. Also, I'd argue that working under pressure is a valuable skill.

Tests are not the best method of assesment, but they're common because they're easy to make. Getting the whole class to answer the same questions (and getting a semi-objective grade at the end) is much easier than swiftly tayloring the task to fit each individual student.
Quote by StewieSwan
Oh please

I'm not saying that tests are good because of that, but if they teach you anything, it's discipline.

In "real life", you're never going to have to remember what year Stalin died under a time limit. However, you will often be expected to do arbitrary shit you don't want to. Job interviews are a test. Giving presentations at work is a test. Doing projects within tight deadlines is a test. You can talk about how it's bullshit and doesn't help anyone, but in the end you still gotta do it.
Last edited by sashki at Jul 19, 2015,
#33
Quote by ErikLensherr
Really? So we know you can drive a car without your instructor holding your hand, in circumstances that can include stress and anxiety.

The instructor can still have a say in it.Like,,"i don't think it's worth failing him for this minor thing..he's much more capable than that.Just a distraction from being under stress". Or something of that type.

But 100% power the the examiner, who, as I said, knows nothing about you, seems a bit absurd.
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#34
Quote by StewieSwan at #33508704
I think so. I've studied hard for tests on material that I am genuinely interested in and I find myself forgetting much of it, because you have to start workin' on the next test. Then the final comes around and you have to remember shit that you learned months ago, so you relearn all that, take the test, and then fuck off for a couple weeks and lose everything. It's just a broken-ass concept.
I would argue that projects and such don't necessarily help you retain what you learn any better though, unless you're constantly reminding yourself about it to iron it into your brain. Which works the same way for theoretical things you learn, or just rote memorization of random facts. An easy thing to relate it to would be practicing an instrument. If you're not always working at it, you're going to forget stuff you learned, because your brain is saying to itself "I'm not using this shit anymore, better get rid of it to make room for this new shit."
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#35
Quote by sashki
The problem is that not all subjects lend themselves to problem solving-based tests. Also, I'd argue that working under pressure is a valuable skill.


Sure they do. The only one you could really argue doesn't would probably be English/whatever. But for this one you can write a paper, which is what any decent English course already does.

Tests are not the best method of assesment, but they're common because they're easy to make.


They're common because they're a holdover from an earlier time before we had constant access to information. In my first astronomy course I had to memorize the gravitational constant of the universe, recite it on a test, and solve problems with it. Could I tell you that number off the top of my head right now? Hell no. Could I tell you within about 15 seconds of using my phone? Absolutely, which kinda takes all the time I took preparing for that test and throws it in the trash. Talk about "learning to study" and all that nonsense all you want, but what it comes down to is a test tries to quantify something that isn't quantifiable, and is therefore flawed.


I'm not saying that tests are good because of that, but if they teach you anything, it's discipline.


So discipline is not taught through projects and homework?


Quote by CL/\SH
I would argue that projects and such don't necessarily help you retain what you learn any better though, unless you're constantly reminding yourself about it to iron it into your brain. Which works the same way for theoretical things you learn, or just rote memorization of random facts. An easy thing to relate it to would be practicing an instrument. If you're not always working at it, you're going to forget stuff you learned, because your brain is saying to itself "I'm not using this shit anymore, better get rid of it to make room for this new shit."



I agree. The expectation of "knowing things" is a poor way to judge one's education, but that's an argument for another thread. However, within the context of our current system, I would still argue that lengthy projects are still infinitely better than timed tests.
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Last edited by StewieSwan at Jul 19, 2015,
#36
Quote by sashki
The problem is that not all subjects lend themselves to problem solving-based tests. Also, I'd argue that working under pressure is a valuable skill.

Tests are not the best method of assesment, but they're common because they're easy to make. Getting the whole class to answer the same questions (and getting a semi-objective grade at the end) is much easier than swiftly tayloring the task to fit each individual student.

I'm not saying that tests are good because of that, but if they teach you anything, it's discipline.

In "real life", you're never going to have to remember what year Stalin died under a time limit. However, you will often be expected to do arbitrary shit you don't want to. Job interviews are a test. Giving presentations at work is a test. Doing projects within tight deadlines is a test. You can talk about how it's bullshit and doesn't help anyone, but in the end you still gotta do it.


Tests and deadlines in real life are a thing, but in real life they never come down to sitting down in a quiet room and answering questions. It's 100% true that at work you will be working to deadlines and sometimes will only have a couple of hours to do some work, but it will never be as stressful as a test because you'll always have reference materials and nothing will rely on memory - which is my problem with tests.

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#37
Quote by Krieger91 at #33508714
The instructor can still have a say in it.Like,,"i don't think it's worth failing him for this minor thing..he's much more capable than that.Just a distraction from being under stress". Or something of that type.

Maybe if it was a cooking class or something, that'd be reasonable. Not if you're gonna be driving a car on the road with the potential to kill people.

Plus you have a margin of error for little stuff like parking too far from the curb. It's only if you do something really dumb or do a buncha little stuff that show you're generally incompetent that you're gonna fail.

I failed twice before passing and I'm glad cuz I didn't belong on the road those first two times.
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#38
honestly thought this was going to be like a pregnancy scare thread

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#39
They're awful. Even now I get too nervous for tests.


Driving tests are terrible here, cuz in order to get a license you have to take lessons from a school (no matter your experience level). That means you have to pay for a school. That means every time you fail, you gotta remove the equivalent of $300 from your bank account and fork it over. I calculated it and it would've been just as expensive for me to travel halfway across the world, get a license there, and then come back here and exchange the license.
#40
Quote by xxdarrenxx
While this holds value, in actual society, a big portion requires you to not only have a degree, but have prior work experience. This prior work experience is not totally unrelated to dealing with pressure.


+1. Real world scenario trumps academia every time, and helps tie in to learning the material more easily (study smart not hard).

One thing that universities need to focus on is mastering multiple software packages in your field as well, as the need for paper/pencil thins out. If you can see how it's applied, you can learn much more effectively (as already mentioned in thread).
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