2018-05-13, a Sunday

studying is cheating

thoughts stress tests school

I’ve always believed that studying (for a test) is cheating. Tests are supposed to test you on what you normally know to make sure you didn’t forget everything you just learned. However, studying artificially makes you seem like you know a bit more about a subject than you usually do, and it is temporary. It skews the results of the test, making you seem smarter than you really are.

Additionally, allowing people to study for a test makes the test also a test of how good you are at studying, not just a test of knowledge, understanding, and/or skills.

the purpose of tests

Tests were made simply to see how much you know. This is useful for both the teacher, who can assess how well their teaching methods are working, and the student, who can use the data to see what they need to work on.

Tests are also useful for seeing if someone is qualified for a position, but that isn’t necessary for the average test in schools.

However, someone came up with the terrible idea of making tests affect grades. Suddenly parents care about grades, and then they scare their children into getting good scores on those tests. In turn, the children found ways to easily avoid their parents’ punishments, such as cheating or studying.

Sean’s very flawed solution

Teachers shouldn’t write a fraction on a student’s test. They should just mark the questions the student got wrong. That way, a student will have to look through the test and see the problems they missed (if they care).

Perhaps there is some information that is absolutely necessary to know to understand the next unit/class. In that case, the test’s score should only be based on the questions that concern that information.

One might say this will make students care less about tests. I’d say that’s a good thing. Some information you learn isn’t very important anyways.

An update, 2021-08-30

While I don’t completely disagree with myself, I would like to provide some arguments for tests and studying.

If all tests suddenly became pop quizzes, students who by some coincidence happened to have recently reviewed a topic would score better solely by luck of the draw. This element of randomness does not help make the test better reflect the student’s aptitude; it would just add onto another factor that could by chance make or break a student’s test score, like getting sick on test day.

Also, test scores themselves, although rigid and thus poorly reflective of some students’ skills, are very scaleable. For example, college admissions offices can use test scores such as from the SAT/ACT to filter out large swaths of applicants that probably have little to no chance of getting admitted anyway. This allows them to peruse the remaining applicants more thoroughly. Test scores do tend to correlate with student performance, especially as an average of a large group of students rather than for an individual, so they can be useful for statistical analyses. Tests also have a standardized procedure for scoring between students, so even if there is a bias, it is more likely to be per group rather than per individual, which I think is better if students would like to rally against this bias.

Admittedly, my article was mostly oriented towards tests and quizzes within a class, rather than nation- or state-wide standardized exams. Even though tests may vary from teacher to teacher, test scores and other elements of student grades can still be good for comparing the efficacy of teachers’ teaching. Teachers can also use test scores as a quick and rough indicator of which students might need help, so more attention can be directed to those students.

One might say this will make students care less about tests. I’d say that’s a good thing. Some information you learn isn’t very important anyway.

I disagree with this. Oftentimes, students may not yet understand why they need to learn something, and while it is true that some trivia such as the organelle that produces ribosomes are probably not applicable for most students in their adult lives, learning them will help open up more possibilities when they decide on a career as well as prepare them to compete with others in this fun capitalist society.

See source and revision history on GitHub.