The Importance of Testing

Kaili Carson

It’s that time again folks: the weather is getting warmer, days are getting longer, birds are singing, bees are buzzing, and, yes, test season is fast approaching. Mere weeks separate us from dreaded finals and AP exams; all the while a combination of anticipation and dread fills the air at West Jessamine. Although testing may be stressful, you may take comfort in knowing that it is not only important for students to take testing seriously, but it can even be beneficial for you to do so.
To begin, research has shown over and over again that taking cumulative tests actually improves concrete knowledge of a subject and aids in retention of material. A study conducted by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology ran two experiments in which students completed a series of examinations in order to weigh the benefits of unit exams as opposed to cumulative exams. In experiment one, students in psychology courses took either a cumulative final exam or a noncumulative exam based upon the instructors preference. Immediately afterwards they were given a course material test to see how well they grasped the content of the course. The results were staggering: students who took the cumulative exam scored much higher on the course material test than did their counterparts who took the noncumulative exam. In experiment two, the researchers invited students to take a follow up exam on a course that they had completed in the previous semester or even up to three semesters prior to the examination. They recorded which students had taken a cumulative test in that particular course and those who had either not had a final or who had taken a noncumulative final. Again, those who had taken cumulative exams consistently outperformed students who did not have a cumulative final. If this study proves anything, it is that cumulative exams such as finals and AP tests can actually greatly improve a student’s overall comprehension of a course and aid in long-term retention of the material.
If you’re not interested in holding on to all of the knowledge that you have accumulated over the school year, then there is another factor that may spur you to take finals seriously: grades. It is no secret that finals constitute a large portion of course grades. In fact, it is fairly common practice for teachers to make final exams a whopping 10% of your semester grade. What might this look like you ask? Well, here is a potent example of the impact that final exams can have on your GPA. Take a student that is in a course with a teacher who makes finals 10% of their final grade. If the student has a respectable 85 in the course, but scores a 55 on the final exam, then his or her semester grade will drop an entire letter grade. This is important for all students to consider due to the fact that colleges look closely at high school GPAs when considering applicants for admission and scholarships.
The importance of finals and end of course examinations cannot be overstated, and if I have not convinced you of this by now, then I urge you to consult a fellow student or teacher to clear it up for you. With that being said, I wish all of you good luck on your various examinations and finals. Go out there and show the rest of the world why West Jessamine is the 11th most distinguished school in the Commonwealth!


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