Volume 94, Issue 103

Wednesday, April 4, 2001


Letters to the Editor

Will exams stand the test of time?

An oddysey into the colour of language

Will exams stand the test of time?

By Chad Finklestein
Opinions Intern

It's that time of year.

The snow is melting, the wind is receding and the leaves are growing. As spring is obviously now upon us, these observations can only amount to one inevitable conclusion: We're all about to get bitten in the ass by exams.

It's a shame so many potential hours that could be spent basking in the sunshine are instead substituted by mind-numbing study benders that invoke our most primal hermit-like inclinations.

Yet, who are we to complain?

Exams are an established formality within the educational system that have proven to have more longevity than Dick Clark's skin. They are the most influential factors in that final grade that will determine the rest of your life.

But I say there is another way.

There has got to be a more reliable method of testing students' cumulative knowledge other than this legalized form of torture. I would like to believe if I were an employer, I would want more from my worker than a letter of the alphabet obtained in a closed and awkward environment while filling in circles or spewing out enough words on a page to make it look substantial.

In the double-spaced essay that is life, there has got to be more between the lines. The important qualities exams do not test must be recognized.

I propose an opt-out program.

The university already offers the chance to opt-out of health plans and faculty donations, so why not one step further?

Unlike these precedents, though, we would not receive money for our opt-outs. We would get some sort of certificate declaring the intent for alternate means of being tested. By opting out of exams, we should be given two options.

Firstly, we can forfeit the exam process for an interview. Some students feel more comfortable when they can vocally recite in applicable terms, the knowledge gained throughout the year.

In fact, this would look even better on school transcripts as possible employers would see the quality of excellent communication skills, rather than just the ability to memorize.

The second option is to not engage in a testing process at all.

Certain courses should come with the stipulation that exams will only be administered to enhance students' marks. Honours courses can still retain the exam option, but other courses should allow exams to be missed without penalty.

Rather, students that take the time to study to regurgitate a year's worth of material only run the risk of not having their mark go up. Those who don't take the exam, have decided to not make the effort to be tested and will finish the year satisfied with whatever mark they were issued before exam time.

This viable opt-out program – possibly consistent with university opt-out policy (I'll take a look) – is a valid alternative to the current system. I look forward to its implementation and am eager for the spring to come when I can look out my window at the glorious sun and say, "no studying today, I'm gonna stay in and play Nintendo."

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