Students reflect positively on skills based exams


With high school students suffering from high stress levels and a lack of sleep, they also have to manage to end on a good note with final exams. To minimize pressure, teachers have changed the format of the final exams to skills-based exams, periods where students demonstrate a skill that they have acquired throughout the school year.

“I compared the end of my freshmen and sophomore years and realized there was a big difference between my emotions and physical strength,” Jaeho Hwang (10) said. “I realized that not having to cram in a semester’s worth of content a week before the final exam made a big difference for me. With the skills-based exams, I had less stress, more sleep, and improved grades as I wrapped up my school year. This adjustment in format for exams posed a positive change for me.”

The pressure to memorize and relearn the concepts from second semester is no longer a problem for students. The test does not relate to any details from previous chapters but rather to life skills. Although several students prefer to take a skills-based exam, some teachers believe that the exam does not fully allow students to demonstrate the concepts that were taught.

“From what I know, [skills based exams] are a better way of assessing and understanding the application of a certain skill,” said John Benavidez, MS principal. “I think teachers can see how students can demonstrate their knowledge as opposed to cramming in facts. I also think it takes away less stress for the students since they don’t have to cram everything in.”

Branching off of this new idea for high school students, middle school teachers are also looking into this concept for their students. Middle school students also face loads of homework every day and at least one test per week. As a means to lower stress levels, the middle school department is discussing making the switch to skills based exams after the positive outcome for high school students.

“I really liked the changed from the regular exams we had to the skills based exams” said Youngwoo Kim (11). “I think the main purpose of this was to prevent students from cramming a bunch of information the day before the test, and forgetting everything afterwards. Applying a certain skill and showing the teachers our ability to do so illustrates our knowledge in a class.”

A majority of the high school students have agreed that the notion of a skills-based exam is far better than just a regular final exam. Although it was a great success this year, the school is yet to apply this system throughout the future years. One thing is for sure: students not only have less stress, but they also end the school year on a more positive note.