Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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One word we, as students, are so afraid of hearing is "test." We get sweat and our hearts pound whenever the tests come up. We can't eat well. We can't sleep well. We have to put all our energy and focus into the preparation for the upcoming exam. Especially, for those people who have waited until the last minutes may find themselves in the library studying all night long. When the results are out, the top portion of the students who get good grades smile and laugh with contentment. But the rest of us are left moaning with frustration. Yes, this is a typical student's life! We can't deny the fact that students do care about their grades. The reason is that nowadays, our educational system is leaning more toward testocracy than meritocracy. But do grades and test scores reflect one's ability and success? Yes! Standardized tests are the effective mean of measuring how well a student knows about the materials.

Often, based on the performance on the tests, grades are assigned accordingly. Thus, grades certainly do differentiate between who learn and who don't. If success is determined upon how many hours we spend for school, we will all go back to school and spend hours after hours holding the books. The point is that success comes from what we learn and how we learn.

People who have really worked hard and don't get what they deserve, should try another way to approach the problem instead of complaining and quitting schools. For instance, I have a cousin who spent most of her time in the library. Yet, she was always disappointed when she got back her lousy test scores. She thought she deserved more than that. However, one day she reevaluated herself and found out why she became unsuccessful at school. She was memorizing instead of trying to understand the materials. Since then, she changed her style of learning. Now she is pursuing her goal at one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, University of California Berkeley. What would have happened if she was never given any test or grade? She would have never found out what had been coming short in her learning process.

One would argue that standardized tests and inflated grades can become the students' attention and therefore prevent the purpose of learning. But what's wrong with this? The inflated grades are still better than stingy grades. As J. Mitchell quotes, "An individual's motivation is based on an ability to do something well and once he does it well, he is motivated to continue to work at higher levels." Certainly, a good-looking grade gives students self-confidence, satisfaction, and motivation to get better. We need these driving forces in our learning process. Yet, it's true that what we learn is more important than good grades. But think about it. Wouldn't you rather be a convinced genuine scholar than a dejected one? The average GPA in many educational institutions has risen up in the last few decades. Does it necessary mean that the educational standards are down? A lot of people tend to have this perception. It's wrong! Today our advanced technology and innovations were carried out by innumerable talented scholars of the last few decades. The root of these achievements is our educational system.

Hence, tests and grades are the mandatory elements of education. They are the effective tools and accurate means of assessment in the learning process. Tests are the ultimate challenges that all of us, as students, inevitably have to take. They may bring thrilling experiences to most of us. Nevertheless, they help us identify our academic ability, competence, and potential.

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