The Importance of Exam Time
Updated: Aug 4, 2019
I was recently speaking at a high school class for career day for a friend who is the teacher. Towards the end of my talk, I asked the kids how many had ever studied for an exam while thinking “I am never going to use this information again”. Most of the hands in the room went up. I conceded that many times, this may be true. I definitely haven’t used the quadratic formula recently or have been asked what the capital of Honduras is lately. This got me thinking. What is the point of learning this information and what would be motivating for kids to learn even though they knew they would never use this material again?
I thought about the whole process of learning including preparing for that exam, and writing that exam is equally part of the education that you will use later on. Exams are all about getting up to speed on a topic that you didn’t know much about, identifying knowledge gaps and filling them. You also anticipate the types of questions that may be asked and making sure you’re prepared to answer them. They help you connect the dots between pieces of information, taking large amounts of information and determining the right pieces to use in your answers. It is the ability to draw on the information you have to answer a question in a way that will get you the best score.
These are all skills that I use every day in my job.
Now, I’m not trying to say that the substance of education overall isn’t useful – but given that schools are trying to preparing a large number of kids for a broad spectrum of jobs, the utility of different information will definitely vary by student. They are learning how to process information and in turn, use that information in a way where they can get the best grade. Sure, getting straight As doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful, but it definitely will help you get there much quicker as well as open more doors for you.
So, we try to focus on the golden lining, and regardless of the subject matter, there are lessons to be learned in the process. School is a great way for children to learn how to learn!