Lengthy tests and numerous exams can have a severe psychological impact on students.
Surveys conducted by United Daily News show 4 out of 35 students in Taipei have depression or suicidal thoughts.
Department of Health statistics indicate that suicide attempts caused by pressure in school are the second largest factor leading to teenage deaths.
Tests are essential tools used to motivate students to work hard and improve their resilience. However, too many exams mean they work the complete opposite way. It is no exaggeration to say that tests can be found in most educational systems in the world. They are vital methods which enhance the capabilities and knowledge of students by challenging them not only with questions but also with stress.
Although this system has proven effective, an overflowing amount of tests eventually leads to negative consequences. Giving lengthy tests or too many exams in schools is counterproductive, and can have a severe psychological impact on students.
A few tests are good, too many can be dangerous
One purpose of exams and tests in school is to inflict a small amount of stress on students for them to learn resilience, yet too many tests do just the opposite. This is one of the biggest things that Taiwanese schools are doing wrong.
While it is beneficial to take some exams, it is harmful when a school is overdoing it.
“We all need some low-level pressure before an event such as an exam to perform well,” says Su Dorland, a psychologist specializing in helping students with exam anxiety, and author of Exam Stress? No Worries. “But low-level pressure does not cause anxiety – it helps us achieve our personal best.”
A reasonable amount of tests provides a good amount of stress for us to improve, but a large number of tests often builds up anxiety and causes panic that negatively affects students.
The consequences of exam anxiety
Exam anxiety might sound like a minor issue, but it is a crucial problem that leads to many deaths and has to be dealt with immediately. According to the surveys of United Daily News, 4 out of 35 students in Taipei have depression or suicidal thoughts. Statistics from the Department of Health also indicate that suicide attempts caused by pressure in school are the second largest factor leading to teenage deaths. Therefore, this writer recommends the government make schools deduct from the massive number of tests students are forced to take.
Tests are efficient ways of judging knowledge, so the educational system shouldn’t remove them from schools, but they can reduce their number and importance.
Currently, it would be no surprise if an absent Taiwanese student returned to school and found her desk covered with make-up exams. High school students in Taiwan have been known to take up to eight exams per day.
This staggering amount of exams is excruciating and unnecessary.
How the government can fix it
To solve this problem, the government should consider the option of replacing some of the tests with other activities related to the subjects.
Tests shouldn’t be the only measuring tool of a child’s intelligence. The schools in Taiwan often determine the skills of a child through exams. However, all students are smart in different ways, and many of their talents cannot be seen by written tests. For example, one could be extremely good with digital music production but may struggle to answer questions about music on an exam. He is very skilled at music, yet he always gets low scores. Thus, he would always think of himself as stupid and never improve.
Determining one’s strengths only with tests limits the students, causing them not to be able to find their strengths and instead to be discouraged.
Alternative assignments, like presentations, creating educational videos on subjects, or writing short stories to turn in online could be introduced into the system. These activities not only provide the same results that tests do, but they could also teach students job skills that can benefit them in the future.
Taking a science exam in class will test your knowledge in the subject, but presenting scientific knowledge to the class could both help you to understand the subject more from your research, and also give you speaking experience. So, some tests could be replaced by activities and projects.
For history class, make a video/animation to present to and educate other students in the class; for math class, present about how the functions learned in class could be applied to real life. This would make education more interesting and less stressful for students and let them learn and improve simultaneously.
The Taiwanese government should reconsider the number of tests given to students, and replace many of them with other activities related to the subjects. Tests are important when it comes to education, but an overbearing amount of them causes panic and stress. Replacing some of them with projects such as presentations, video making, and others could reduce pressure, make school more interesting, and accomplish the goal of improving learning at the same time. This writer greatly urges the government to make a change in order to solve the issue of exam stress as soon as possible.