Standardized testing adds to student stress

There are other ways to teach effectively



There has to be a better way to learn than cramming for weekly exams.

SYDNEY DOWNING, Evergreen columnist

Standardized testing is my least favorite thing about college. Every student I have talked to this past semester feels overwhelmed by how many exams we are taking. 

Thankfully, the end of the semester is near. And though I am fully preparing to be MIA from Canvas over winter break, I still have to sit through my classes and study for my last few tests.

As much as I hate them, I know the importance of standardized testing. I just wish there was a different way to learn. 

I often struggle to remember how important these exams will be. All they do is stress us out. Eventually, this information will be for something useful, like a future career path in the medical field.

With standardized testing comes the pressures of passing one or two heavily-weighted exams that will determine your class grade. Most students feel overwhelmed, stressed and often have a lack of confidence in their ability to pass these exams.

Particularly this year, tests feel even more hectic, partly because we adjusted to taking exams virtually and having access to resources such as textbooks and notes. 

Now, most exams that are in person do not allow these resources and require being in a room of 200 people. With tensions high, you can figure out why that change is hard on students. 

Last week I had three exams within a day and a half. The week before I had another exam; the week before that, two more exams. I have not had a break from exams in over a month. 

I constantly feel I am taking more exams than doing homework for my classes. The weight of my grades depends on how I do on exams. But like many other students, this seems pointless and a waste of my stress.

Garth Mader, clinical assistant professor in MIS and entrepreneurship, teaches students with a participation-based style rather than giving daily lectures.

“Testing isn’t the only way to assess learning. Depending on the learner, it may not be the best way,” Mader said. “It’s good to find a happy medium where you have different ways to assess students’ learning.”

Mader teaches by giving students the opportunity to participate in class and work in groups to provide an understanding of class topics in different ways.

This type of teaching style is beneficial to many students like me. It helps us learn through the help of peers and can put a new perspective on topics.

It can be very intimidating to participate in classes, but it is valuable. I have found when doing so, the information on exams is easier to understand. Plus, I always end up learning more!

“You might learn [better] from other people who speak up during discussions and share ideas or perspectives that you would never have thought of,” Mader said.

With standardized testing not going anywhere, we are still required to take exams to pass courses. There are resources professors mention throughout every course and that are available to all students. Tutoring centers, office hours and the Access Center can all help us Cougs when we feel uncertain in classes.

Whether you are struggling and need a tutor or have a simple question, it is always the best option to meet with your professors to ask.

Kacey Gavin, sophomore mechanical engineering major, despises standardized testing but is a very scholarly student. She does everything she can to improve her grades, always completes practice exams and focuses on what she is learning.

“Prepare for the exams through practice problems, practice exams and doing the homework [because] topics are typically related to the exam,” Gavin said.

Regardless of how many practice problems you complete, there is never a certainty of passing your exam. But it is OK to fail. Sometimes you will not learn until you do. 

Grades and exams are important, but they do not define you. Getting through college by actually learning is the most important thing.

If you are a student who is worried about an upcoming exam, breathe and remember you know more than you think. 

Standardized testing sucks, but we can all get through it.