Do Exam Results Matter?

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As we enter Term 4 of the school calendar, many are feeling the heat of examinations.

I have always been a tad skeptical about schools’ seemingly obsession of assessing students. What is the big deal of all these assessments?

Exam results are but just a one time mark, graded in a one time situation. They do not determine a person’s worth.

Very often, the student has only one chance to get it right. It doesn’t matter if you were too tired, too distracted, or simply made a careless mistake.

You are given a mark for what you wrote once, in an instant.

There is no second chance.

And for major exams, such as the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations) in Singapore, that one chance determines where you will spend the next 4 or 5 years of your Secondary School life.

No wonder both students and parents are stressed when examinations are near!

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If we look at examinations objectively, how many of us today are a failure in life because we have failed some exams during our school days?

And how many of us can say that we are truly successful today simply because we have excelled in our exams?

Perhaps some of us are.

But I am pretty sure that there are many out there whose outcome in life has not been determined by the results they received years ago in an examination.

I have seen school dropouts turning into successful entrepreneurs and those with doctorates living miserable lives.

I am not discrediting the importance of examinations. After all, they have been around for ages.

I just want to put our perspectives right, as parents, especially with exams coming.

Our children’s worth and value is not determined by the marks they get in a school examination.

I expect my kids to work hard, not just to score well in an examination, but more so that they will learn the attitudes of discipline and hard work.

And I always tell my two boys, “Results are not everything, but attitude is. I will not be upset if you don’t do well in your exams. I will only be upset if you don’t have a positive attitude.”

So as we approach the year end examinations, these are some things we can do for our kids:

1. Set a reasonable timetable for our kids to do their revision.

2. Plan pockets of time for play and relaxation.

3. Emphasise the importance of discipline and hard work, instead of focusing on grades alone.

4. Most importantly, regardless of the marks they get, celebrate the fact that they have put in effort.

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Are exam results a big deal to you? Share with us your comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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10 thoughts on “Do Exam Results Matter?

  1. Ing, I’m surprised to that as an educator and teacher yourself, you have such a perspective. I’ve many friends who are teachers and they are very concerned about the grades that children have and have sent them for various enrichment classes to prep them for primary school. I totally agree results don’t determine the worth of a child. I’m a straight A student but I accredit that to only because I’m exam savvy. For e.g, I have an A1 for Chinese but can’t speak the language for nuts. And I seriously cannot remember what I’ve studied anymore. I was only relying on memory work because somehow our singapore education is very much geared in that way and memory has limited capacity. I’m very encouraged by your sharing because my husband and I are trying very hard to determine what kind of culture and values our family want to bring up our kids on amidst all the pressure among parents and peer pressure.

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    1. I know what you mean! I did well in school too but ask me what I have learnt, I cannot remember most of them, especially for subjects that I have no interest in. But what stays with me is the ability to work under pressure, to work hard towards a goal. It is tempting to go with the flow, and focus on grades. Not easy to go against the rat race, I agree.

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  2. I agree wholeheartedly with you. Change begins with us. If we want the culture to change, we have to put things in perspective teach our kids the value of a teachable and willing to learn spirit over performance. Now the govt is trying to redirect our ks culture…. which will take time to undo…

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  3. Very good article. But not to forget, other than discipline and effort, exams are means to know for parents where there child stand and how much improvements or none..required for there child for next upcoming tough conditions.

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Mahesh. I agree that exam results can be one of the ways for parents and teachers to know the standard of the child. Which is why a certain amount of assessment is still vital in schools. However, exam results are not everything. They do not show us the strengths of a child, other than his/her ability to answer exam questions.

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  4. I’m totally with you on this one!
    too many parents place too much emphasis on those grades these days, and this stresses out both parents and child alike.

    I’m not saying it’s not important, it will push students to learn. but it’s important to recognize that effort the child has put in regardless of the examinations outcome!

    I’m still a long way from examinations, I just hope when the time comes for me I can maintain this opinion. 😀

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    1. Exactly! Too much emphasis has been placed on grades alone. I have to say too, that many parents feel that they have no choice, it’s just the way things are. It takes a lot to go against the tide of the rat race. I guess as parents, we must fight for our children. Recognise their efforts regardless of the grades they receive.

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