An ongoing debate: Is it time for schools to remove written examinations?

David Banks's picture
Authored by David Banks
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - 9:57am

There's an ongoing debate on the value of written tests in schools in the UK. Some parents think that these exams are of no value, and don't necessarily test the extent of children's skills and knowledge. 

Many parents see the 11+ CEM and GL assessments as limiting and not a true reflection of their child’s ability and potential.

People who study thoroughly for  tests end up getting high scores, but it doesn't mean they understood the concepts of what they learned in class. It also doesn't mean that they understand the real-life practical application of the lessons.

There are various factors that  affect how well children do in written tests. Some of them didn’t prepare well for the tests. Some may have had a bad day on the exam. Others had to deal with issues at home and were unable to concentrate on test preparation. 

However, under different circumstances, they could have done better. 

Tests are essential

Despite the arguments regarding the downside of tests, many people still believe that they’re necessary. Tests provide an opportunity to review all lessons covered in the class. Children also learn how to stay disciplined because they understand the impact of failing in the test. It’s also a fair measure of learning because everyone gets the same exams and is scored using the same standards. 

Without tests, some kids won’t even bother to check their work when they go home. They won’t care if they didn’t understand some concepts taught because they don’t need to prepare for any exam. They become lazy and weak kids and end up just getting by even if they don’t deserve it. 

Essentially tests are a fundamental part of learning, as they can help identify strong points, areas that need work and more. As a parent you should encourage testing from a young age so you can track and measure your child’s performance.

Testing can be a little monotonous at times for children of all ages. During the ages of 4-11, provide rewards for your children upon completing a past paper. This is a crucial period for learning and preparing for the 11+  exams should start early to help them develop their foundational skills and get them ready for the next step in their academic career.

By utilising 11+ past papers you can get your child ready for the exam and develop their core skills.

Testing using different tools 

To address this issue, perhaps schools have to find a way to test students using various tools and standards. Putting too much focus on the written test is dangerous since it only highlights cognitive learning. Some kids learn using other learning styles, and they will excel when tested using different tools.

Some students also hate the idea of written tests because they don’t see the relevance of what they’re answering with real-life experiences. However, if the tests provide a chance to examine the ability of the student to connect abstract concepts with the real world, it’s a good thing.

A variety of learning methods is also useful

Apart from giving different types of tests, it’s also essential to vary the teaching strategies used in the class. Not all kids prefer learning through lectures. They find this strategy to be boring and unproductive. Others learn by doing and manipulating things. For instance, instead of teaching them the different types of soil using slides, they want to see the actual soil and touch it. Some kids love playing online games. 

Educational apps make it easier to learn in an enjoyable way. Through gamification, children can learn without the burden of the classroom. 

Additionally when children are playing games they don’t feel like they are learning, so the learning process can be quite seamless. There are a wide range of apps on the market, that help with this. Nowadays there are a wide variety of apps on the market that help children prepare for their exams.

Learners today are dynamic. They want variety in learning strategies. They feel bored when given the same exercises and tests. It's crucial to find a way to address these needs if you want your kids to make the most of school. Understand what motivates them and use it to further their learning.

Written exams are seemingly here to stay, so whether they are efficient or not, efforts must be made to ensure your child has the best shot at success.