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Why Schools Shouldn’t Eliminate Final Exams

Eliminate Final Exams

In recent years, a growing number of school boards, including the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), have decided to eliminate final exams, saying that student mental health and well-being are one of the primary reasons. Grade 9 and 10 students in the OCDSB were given the entire week off unless they had incomplete work. 

This trend of eliminating final exams aims to reduce the stress associated with exams. However, it raises critical questions about the role of exams in education and their importance in student development.

The Role of Exams in Academic and Personal Development

Exams have long been a staple of the education system, serving as key milestones for assessing student understanding and readiness. The decision to eliminate final exams is based on the idea that they are stressful and not having exams would help to improve student well-being. However, this approach overlooks the benefits of experiencing and managing academic stress.

Imagine applying this logic to other areas of life: 

  • Should we eliminate driving tests because they cause stress for prospective drivers? 
  • Or abolish bar exams for lawyers and medical licensing exams for doctors? 

Clearly, this is impractical and could lead to serious consequences.

Tests do more than give a picture of students’ concept mastery, such as the subject facts they remember; test results can also provide insights into non-cognitive skills, such as a student’s ability to organize information, prioritize their time, assess information, and demonstrate perseverance.

The Trend of Eliminating Exams Across Canada

The OCDSB is not alone in this movement. Across Canada, several school boards are moving away from traditional exams. For example, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is encouraging teachers to “decolonize” assessment practices, suggesting alternatives like essays or creative projects such as TikTok videos. In British Columbia, some school districts are exploring similar changes, emphasizing project-based learning and continuous assessment over traditional final exams.

While these changes aim to reduce student stress and promote mental well-being, they may also leave many graduates unprepared for post-secondary education and their professional lives.

Why Exams Matter

Eliminate Final Exams

1. Preparation for Future Challenges

Education aims to prepare students for the future, including teaching them how to handle stress effectively. Moderate stress levels, like those experienced before and during an exam, can motivate students to prepare thoroughly, review material, and practice essential skills—habits invaluable in higher education and the workforce.

2. Academic Readiness

Many students will go on to pursue post-secondary education, where exams are still common. It would be a disservice if their first encounter with a final exam is in university or college. High schools are crucial in ensuring students are well-prepared for these academic challenges.

3. Fair Assessment

While various methods exist to assess student learning, final exams remain one of the most accurate, efficient, and fair ways to understand student comprehension of course material. They provide a structured way to measure learning outcomes that alternative assessments may not always capture.

Learn more here about why final exams and quizzes help students learn better.

Our Commitment to Supporting Students

At Oxford Learning, we believe in preparing students for all aspects of their educational journey. While we support innovative and diverse assessment methods, we also recognize the value of traditional exams. We are dedicated to helping students manage academic stress effectively and develop strong study habits. Our experienced tutors provide personalized support to ensure that students are prepared for their exams and equipped with the skills needed for lifelong success.

Let us partner with you to ensure your child’s academic success. Contact us today to learn more about our tutoring services and how we can support your students through every stage of their educational journey.

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