Examinations …… the Necessary Evil?

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  • Dr. Nu Nu Win
  • In the field of Education, we call the “Examinations”, the “Necessary Evil”.
    As everyone knows, necessary or unnecessary, an Evil is not something good. It can harm anybody, anytime. However, this Evil is necessary in certain circumstances.
    After teaching or learning something, both teachers and pupils want to know and need to know how much the students have achieved from that teaching.
    Teachers need to know the effectiveness of their teaching materials and teaching methods. The teacher also needs to know the weaknesses and strengths of his students. Thus having a clear understanding of the needs of the class and the needs of each individual student, the teacher will be in a better position to modify his teaching style and teaching materials and even repeat certain portions of his lessons to get the best results.
    From the side of the students, they also need to know which part of the lesson has been understood well, what difficulties they have encountered during the learning process, which portion of the lesson they want to know more, and finally what kind of help they want from their teachers.
    For these purposes we use “Tests” or “Examinations” to assess the achievement of students and also to assess the teaching of teachers.
    So, let’s ponder a while and think to what extent we can assess the achievements of students and the teaching of teachers.
    According to the experts of Educational Test and Measurement or Educational Assessment, the results or the marks we get from an Examination comes out as follows: ..
    Marks from an Examination = Actual Achievement of a student + or – Error.
    That means we can rarely get the actual achievement of a student by merely looking at the marks he gets from an Exam. There can always be an “error” which is a plus or a minus to the actual assessment of a student.
    For example: –
    Let’s say a student had prepared well and knows all the lessons he had to study for his examination very well. If he fell ill the night before the examination or if he had an accident on the morning of the examination, he would not be able to do well in his examination. Because of the physical pain he had to suffer during the examination hour or because of the shock he had experienced that morning, he could have a minus error to his actual achievement which will surely come out in his examination results.
    On the other hand let us take a look at the reverse scenario. In this case the student might not have studied well but if he were able to answer all the questions because the questions asked happened to be just the ones that he had prepared thoroughly, then the result would be that he would get high marks. Then, this would be a plus error to his actual achievement.
    So, although we cannot get the actual achievement of a student as the result of an examination , we need to use the examinations and tests up to the time we can substitute them with a better instrument that can assess the actual achievement well.
    That is why we call the “Examinations” the “Necessary Evil”.
    So we need to find precautions and ways and means to get the results nearest to the actual achievement of a student.
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