I beg to differ. Purportedly, a trial exam assesses the readiness of the candidates for the real exam to come. It also points out to teachers and students areas of study that need immediate remedial action or further enhancement.
But, is that what is actually happening on the ground? Most schools conduct their trial SPM exam on a full-scale manner. They are run just like the real exam. The rationale is so that students get a feel of the real exam, including sitting for afternoon papers.
This also means students need not go to school on the day they do not have a paper to sit for. Thus, for most students the “absenteeism” feeling is already in operative mode. After the trial exam, it would be most difficult to switch them back to the “attend all the classes” mode.
What actually happens in the trial exam halls or classrooms? For the academically “strong” students, the exam is more of a ritual. Most likely they have already read and attempted these questions during their own revisions.
The “weak” students, on the other hand may try to answer what they can or just “sleep through” the one to two hours allocated for the paper if they are not allowed to leave the exam hall/classroom earlier. The “average” students “soldier on” and may get the right answers.
Are the students really benefiting from this trial exam experience?
There is no real learning taking place in all that two to three weeks allocated for the trial exam. If you know, you can answer; if you don’t know, you just can’t answer.
Imagine if a trial exam is not held. The time can be used for teaching and learning, for revisions of specific topics and discussion of past-year exam questions.
Through properly organised classes, the weak students get the “remedial” lessons they need to improve their chances of passing the exam. The better students, on the other hand, get the “enrichment” exposure to help them score higher grades.
More importantly, with the exam out of the way, schools will not be thrown into “exam” or “no-class” mode so early into the final school term.
It is time to get our schools to conduct assessments year-round instead of full-scale exams. Short assessment tests can be conducted within the teaching periods any time a subject teacher chooses.
Properly conducted, they are equally effective and valuable to students’ learning experience. There is no need to have trial exams and “re-trial” exams on a scale like public exams. Any responsible subject teacher can assess and give an appropriate grade for a student.
Students need more learning time, not exam time from the school year allocated to them. More learning time is good for our students. Schools without trial exams will in fact encourage and facilitate more voluntary and meaningful learning.
It is important that parents inculcate in their children that going to school is more for learning than studying for an exam. When our children want to learn, the exam will take care of itself.
LIONG KAM CHONG,
Source : The STAR News Opinion Friday October 22, 2010