For centuries, examinations have been a cause of stress and panic among students from all over the world. Some students have been known to sweat, shake, breathe really fast at the sight of question papers. This is because examination results determine academic success or failure.
Before examinations came in place, especially those that determine entry into university, students only required recommendations. This is according to Alex Usher a Canadian blogger in his article, “A brief History of Exams.” Usher says that a student had to please his/her teacher in order to get a recommendation to go to university.
And in order to graduate from university, Usher says, students had to give a lecture or argue a particular position on something. The participation could be done in form of a debate.
The idea of examinations according to “Hoax or fact”, a fact checking platform, started in ancient China in 605 AD. The country implemented a nationwide standardized test known as the imperial examination. Its purpose was to select candidates for specific government positions. The candidates were tested on their knowledge in philosophy and poetry.
In 1905, revolutionists in China pushed for the abolition of the imperial examination. They cited the ineffectiveness of the exam in hiring people with technical and practical examination.
Additionally, the examination limited power to the elites since they were in a better position to pass given their level of exposure. This is discussed in the United States Office of The Historian in their article about the “The Chinese Revolution of 1911.”
By the time the imperial examination was abolished in China, England had adopted the system in 1806. According to Quora, an online educational platform, England adopted the examination system in order to select candidates for positions in public service. It was later applied to education.
The examination system later influenced other parts of the world after European countries spread their education system across continents. For instance, by the time continents such as Africa were exposed to formal education, it included examinations.
Examinations might, for a long time, be considered as a measure of students’ ability. However, some education experts have realized that there is a challenge with assessing someone based on a single set of tests. Moreover, in the case of nation-wide examinations, it has been noticed that passing has more to do with social class than intellectual or academic prowess.
However, examinations aren’t all bad. Some experts have said that they are important in determining a student’s skills, talents and their knowledge. Examinations also motivate students to learn and to put their best foot forward in a competitive environment, an attribute that comes in handy later in life.