Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Sh, Exams!

 by Annie Materna

Exams are very nearly over for everyone, including GCSE, AS, A level and most university students, relieving the stress, the nerves and the endless revision. But are exams really as important as we think?

From year 10 up until the last years of university, most teenagers are daunted by the thought of exams and revision. We put everything we can into months of preparation for our exams, learning and memorising a syllabus... But does this convey our true intelligence?

So what, we can regurgitate information from our syllabus into note form and then into our exam papers; this does not mean that this is information that will be useful later in life or actually makes us any more intelligent. For most people we will only remember some information by revising it constantly, yet after our exams we no longer need the information and so it is almost immediately forgotten, making it seem pointless. Therefore we do not gain intelligence through exams, we gain the ability to learn information and regurgitate it onto a page.

Exams are essentially a game that our generation must play if we want to be successful later in life; or at least that's how it seems. In Years 10 and 11, we are told GCSEs are the most important thing for us if we want to get to Sixth Form or college; in Years 12 and 13, we are told exams are the most important thing for us if we want to go to university; and at university, exams are the most important thing in order to get a job.

However there are many more important factors for most careers that do not involve exam results, such as being able to be social, patient and adaptive to the job. We are taught through education to learn information and later regurgitate this information, although the work place is much different, for example we may be given individual tasks to complete, without the information to help us. However we are not prepared by education for this working environment and we are no more intelligent because of it.

However, we must ask ourselves what we think intelligence is. It is said, specifically in Buddhist and Muslim cultures, that the older we are the wiser we are; this suggests that our intelligence and how wise we are comes from experience of life. This makes sense as our brains are only fully developed by the age of 20, which means during GCSE's, AS and A levels our brains are not actually fully developed.
Exams do not prove that one person is more intelligent than another, they prove that people can work hard and remember information, but we are led to think that the people that get all A*s as their results are more intelligent than those with average results; however, there are so many external factors that can affect results, such as the student themselves (who may be at a disadvantage due to learning difficulties or even the state or situation they are in on the day of the exam) or the exam marker, and this can lead to a person changing their entire life plan or career, but they may not be any less able for their planned route.

Intelligence is so much more than good exam results. Education teaches us to learn but we gain our intelligence throughout our lives. Exploration and self discovery will help lead us to our right path. From then on, we grow older and wiser.

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