Why Exam Results are Not Necessarily a Measure of Your Intelligence

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A headmaster (Peter Trait) once said ‘intelligence cannot be defined by exams.’ It is thought that exams simply cannot show a person’s intelligence and abilities. The UK Education System is assessed primarily though exams. The question that remains is ‘do exam results mean little?’

Are Exam Results a Measure of Memory?

For some, it is thought that exams simply measure how good you are at remembering information. As some exams require you to tick boxes with the correct answer or recall a sequence or paragraph of information, this usually requires you to memorise the information. Before exams you will often find students sitting in the library, study, or their bedroom urgently stuffing their head with key phrases, numbers and sequences. A few weeks after their exam they fail to even remember what they even wrote. Excelling at some types of exams requires a simple memorize and not an actual deeper understanding of the subject. Therefore, exams may be said to measure your ability to perform well at these types of situations.

It favours those who perform well at pressured situations, requiring individuals to recall information in timed settings to a required set standard. Unfortunately, it leaves those who have a great understanding of a subject but less capabilities when it comes to pressured situations, at a disadvantage. There is the danger of labelling those who fail exams at having a poor intelligence level when that is not the case at all.

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Which Exams Promote Better Understanding?

Some exams are created with more thought. They do not just require memory recall abilities but the ability to analyse information. These exams are created to be better suited to preparing individuals to real life situations. For example, a university law degree will incorporate both memory and analysis into its exams. The exam results are therefore a measure of understanding how law applies to situations in real life settings.

However, even if it is agreed that not all exams are measuring memory, there is still a disadvantage created for those who do not react well under pressure. The timed settings around lots of other students can lead to students having panic attacks or freezing. The lack of time therefore leads to poor performance in an exam. The exam results may show that they are not competent in the chosen subject, but in fact they may know more about it than fellow students that excelled.

What Are the Other Options?

For those who do not perform well In exams, they should perhaps choose to do a course which is assessed by coursework to be conducted in your own time. The more relaxed nature of some courses can allow individuals to perform the best they can. The problem with some university degrees is that individuals spend a large amount of money on a course which may be assessed by exams. If you know that you cannot operate in the most effective way with exams, this would not be the best choice for your money commitments.

Online courses can be a good choice as they are affordable and reduces the level of anxiety that students may face. For example a Marketing course that is provided online is assessed via coursework and allows a few weeks for it to be completed.

Remember Exams Are Not for Everyone

When receiving your exam results it is important to remember that not everyone is good at exams, and even famous people have said to have failed their exams. One example is Simon Cowell, he received a C and two U’s, but he is one of the biggest music producers in the world. Another great example is Lord Alan Sugar who only has one GSCE but is one of the biggest names in business. Finding what works best for you and demonstrates your skills and abilities is essential for success long term.