Exams – Why Do We Do Them?
The Year 11 and Year 12 Semester 1 exams have now been completed, and the Year 7-10 students will have completed their exams by the end of the week. This is the first time that we have run exams for our Year 7-9 students, and is part of our commitment to extending our students by ensuring their educational programs are academically rigorous. Teachers have spent time in preparing the students for these exams, which take place in English, Humanities, Maths, and Science for all Year 7-10 students, and will be held again at the end of Semester 2.
I thought that it would be helpful to explain some of the reasons we have done this, as only a minority of schools choose to run lower Secondary exams. These are:
- to get students prepared to doing exams and performing under pressure, as preparation for eventual Year 11 and 12 external exams that they are working towards;
- to make the exam mark something tangible, giving students and parents a good indication of how well they are doing;
- to help young learners learn to use exams as an opportunity to show what they know;
- to assist students in seeing exams as something they can learn to work towards and build skills in revising, note-taking, and committing knowledge into long-term memory;
- to give learners a sense of achievement when they have done well (as long as the exam is the right level for the child, i.e. not too difficult, but not so easy). The important thing in this regard is preparation (parents as well as teachers have a role to play in this), so students will do as well as can possibly be expected.
- doing well in an exam is very encouraging and motivating for a child, and they will want to carry on learning. It is important to make sure that every child receives encouraging comments (whatever their mark) so that the opposite does not occur and some of the learners become discouraged due to a low score.
- it is important for learners to feel that they are making progress and to consolidate what they have learned. Exams can be a good way to show learners how they are advancing and that they are ready to move on to the next stage.
- exams provide good feedback for the learner and the teacher as to what understanding has taken place, and what areas need to be addressed.