I recently got a grade back from a test in my science course. I received a D on the test. I expected that much. I was never good at taking tests, to the point that some of my teachers were shocked when I passed. I never took offence to it, because even with D’s in the class, I did well on reviews, homeworks, quizzes, and many others so it kept my grades up to a B, or if need be, a C. The only class I ever truly struggled with those was math, but with that as the only exception, I was a pretty good student. My GPA was not phenomenal, but it was average- a 3.25 in high school. I was not a straight A student, but I wasn’t a total disappointment.
I was fine skidding by because I knew if I had to get a C it was with my best work, and if I truly knew my work, it was A or B worthy without studying. (that being said, I did start to study in college.)
By skidding by, I meant that I was not happy with a D in math, or a C either, but I was content in knowing I passed. I was content with this because I knew if I could do better, I would be doing better. I came to accept that some things I would not understand in a few days- like math or scientific theories. I was okay with that, though, because, again, I had other work to boost me up. What harm did a few missing points on tests do? I was passing, and I didn’t need them for my major anyway. The important thing was, I knew enough.
That all changed when I got my final grade.
I had a B in the class. My score was a solid 88, and I was content because with a few more assignments I could easily be brought up, and when I heard I had a test, I was not worried because I was studying and I knew if I did poorly, it would only cost me three, maybe four, five points - six max.
But now I have a C. A 76 in the class due to a test.
No, it isn’t impossible to get back to my solid 88, but in order to, I need a 96 on all future assignments. Talk about that added stress, huh?
Allow me to put my testing into perspective a little further. In Government in high school, I was in the top 5 on the leaderboard of kahoot for review without studying. I was doing well and understood the subject. Come test day, I got either a C or a D on the test (I’m leaning towards D but I will give myself the benefit of the doubt.)
Testing is not my forte, and I don’t think many teenagers necessarily go into tests stress free. According to the American Test Anxieties Association, between 16-20% of students have testing anxiety, Another 18% are troubled by moderately-high test anxiety.” in the United States, and I am one of them. I had assumed I had cured my anxiety only until I noticed that tests were 50% of my final grade.
I’m sorry, but that isn’t fair.
Teachers and professors, take this into consideration. You have many students who do fine in your class, who do all their work, turn them in on time. I’m not asking for brownie points, but simply understand that sometimes making a grade rely on the outcome of their test is not fair.
“But life isn’t fair!” Life doesn’t have grades. Life isn’t keeping you from passing a college course. Life isn’t costing you money per failure. Life does not make you push out thousands of dollars if your grade falls below a 69.5.
What I am trying to say in all of this mess is that some students can do all they can to make good grades, do phenomenal on reviews, homeworks, quizzes- and still fail courses. This is a huge issue, and a huge concern from me, a college student. I remember tests being 30% of my grade last semester, and I passed majority of my courses (except for math) with a 20 point buffer. As a student who does well in school, puts her best foot forward, never misses an assignment, and works hard to double check her answers, this is disappointing and nerve wrecking. Some students have grants, scholarships riding on these grades.
Do I expect tests to be outlawed? No.
Do I ask for tests to be lowered to 10 or 15%? Well what student want that? But no.
What I am asking for is teachers and professors be mindful of their grading criteria. A test weighing 30% of their grade is not as scary, because it only lowers you a few points. What is scary is a test that is 50% of your final grade, bumping you down a whole letter and making it nearly impossible to get back where you were.
Teachers, please remember this.
Not all students are built the same, but all students rely on those grades for one reason or another. Consider the weight you put on your kids.