Reform of the testing system


Veteran member
Reaction score
Ethnic group
Schools in many developed countries are experiencing a crisis. Students don't learn as much as before. Disparities between schools has led governments to give incentives to schools or teachers that managed to get a lot of well performing students, which in turn naturally resulted in exam levels going down so as to boost grades. There are even teachers who cheat (e.g. by modifying the students' answer sheet themselves, allowing extra-time or by giving tips during the exam) to boost average scores. This has contributed to an impoverishment of the education system. Add to this that students also cheat, but this has probably been the case for a very long time.

Proposed procedure of the exams

The solution would be to have a single, nation-wide (or state-wide) year-end exams, which takes place in halls outside schools, and watched by a team of people from other schools than the students bein examined, as well as cameras (to be sure not to miss what supervisors can't be attentive to). Students would be space out enough not be able to read on anyone else's sheet in any direction (let's say a radious of 3m).

There should be several sections (A, B, C, D...) of pages for the exam, with students getting alternate sections at regular interval. So, if one student is currently doing section B, the left-hand neighbour (3m away) would be doing section A, and the right-hand one section C.

Naturally, there should be different series of questions for each different day of the same examination nation-wide, so that no one can communicate the question to people from other classes or schools.

Exam sheets should never be given to teachers or anyone else before the exam day. In fact, ideally they should only be sent by email to the places of examination the same morning (or night before) and printed on location. There should be only one central office for the state or country to dispose of the exam sheets to be sent.

To prevent people doing someone else's exam (common in universities with hundreds of students in the same year), exam sheets should have the name and student number of the student pre-printed on it, so that each student would need to pick it up in exchange for their ID card (with a clear photo).

Nature of the exams

More importantly, tests should not be about memorization by general ablities, such as reasoning skills, analysis, logic, problem-solving, composition, creativity, etc. Memory would only serve for language abilities (vocabulary).

For instance, instead of having to remember a mathematical theorem (a completely useless thing, yet still commonly taught), exams should tests abilities to solve problems, even giving the formulae and a calculator as a tool to solve the problem. The important is to understand how to proceed, not remembering a formula or getting the right answer by mental calculation.

Likewise, a history exam should involve explaining why something happened, or being able to analyse a historical document and answer questions related to it, rather than just memorising dates. It is ridiculous to force people to remember dates. If they are not interested they will forget them. If they are interested, they will probably already know about them, or learn by themselves later. There are much too many dates in history to remember for it to be a useful intellectual investment. If we want to know a date, we can just check the Internet (e.g. Wikipedia). What matter is understanding how and why things happened in history.

The only thing that I would insist on memorising by heart are countries' names, capitals, flags and official/main languages, because there aren't so many and it does help a great deal to understand events in history and in the modern world. The importance of penalties for not knowing a country's name, capital, location on a world map, official language or flag, should be directly proportional to the country's size, population and economic importance.
The test you described sounds a lot like the Finnish matriculation exam, which is done as the end of upper secondary school. I'm not quite sure to which countries or country the cheating applies, though. In general, I can see some benefit in such a test but it is rather expensive (and schools notoriously get less and less money).

In general, I'm not sure how such a test would by itself improve an entire education system. I think it'd be more useful for example to spend more money on teacher's abilities to cope with classes and increase their professional skills in that area. Also reducing the size of big classes would be good. A teacher needs to pay attention to a lot of things and if there is no time to pay attention to teaching because the management of the class takes too much time, how can we expect better results?

This thread has been viewed 14871 times.