Mid-year exams are written in the middle of an academic term to test students’ understanding of a subject (s). They are also used as a form of summative assessment to include in students’ final grades.
However, although mid-year examinations have been a critical aspect of schools’ annual activities, the Minister for Education, Chan Chun Sing, recently announced that the Mid-year examinations for all primary and secondary school levels would be stopped by 2023.
The Singapore Ministry of Education sees the cancellation of mid-year examinations as a way to help students focus better on learning rather than on grades. It is believed that this new development will deepen students’ learning and increase their motivation to understand what they are being taught in school.
However, this announcement has generated several questions. How practical would students’ assessment be without mid-year examinations? How will teachers track learners’ progress without midterm tests? And will the removal of mid-year examinations cause differences in students’ performance to go unnoticed?
The truth, however, is that mid-year examinations have been from primary 3 and 5, and secondary school 1 and 3 in the previous years. These students have experienced a positive impact due to this change because mid-year examinations have been replaced with continuous assessment tests. Therefore, the Minister of Education noted that learners will continue to take regular assessments when all schools cancel mid-year examinations in 2023. So, how will regular assessment impact students’ academic performance and why is it important? This article examines these questions. Let’s take a look.
Why is regular assessment critical?
Now that midterm examinations have been scrapped and replaced with regular assessments, what’s in it for Singaporean students? What role does continuous evaluation play in learning, and why is it necessary?
1. Periodic assessment provides quick feedback
Rather than wait till final examinations, continuous assessment evaluates students’ understanding per topic, providing fast feedback.
This identifies their knowledge level before an examination. It enables tutors to discover students’ weaknesses and strengths individually to organize personalized tutorials or change the teaching approach to meet learners’ needs.
Additionally, periodic evaluation means that students can learn as they go, get timely feedback on their performance, and improve their weaknesses early. This makes it easy to understand more complex topics, enabling them to build on existing knowledge.
Therefore, adopting this approach is an excellent way for teachers to receive quick reports on students’ comprehension and adjust their teaching strategies for improvement.
- It promotes students engagement
Statistics show that engaged students are 2.5 times more likely to acquire excellent grades in school and are 4.5 times more likely to be more enthusiastic about the future than their disengaged peers. However, although students’ engagement is crucial to their academic success, approximately one-fourth of students are not engaged in school.
Continuous assessment boosts students’ engagement because it requires them to regularly demonstrate what they’ve learned. Since they are tested frequently, they are encouraged to participate actively in school work.
For example, rather than wait till the end of the term, they will study earlier to pass their continuous assessments. As a result, they become fully involved in academic activities, increasing their chances of success.
- It boosts retention
A study shows that 70% of students forget what they were taught within 24 hours. Also, 90% of what is taught is lost within a week. Often, this happens due to a lack of regular assessment because students aren’t constantly reminded of what they’ve been taught. However, continuous evaluation allows students to revisit what they’ve learned. It also encourages them to demonstrate and apply their knowledge frequently, enabling them to retain information longer.
Regular assessment vs examinations
Examinations are an excellent way to evaluate learners’ knowledge of a course. The results may stand as a yardstick to measure their abilities and understanding of a field of study. Some tutors also test retention and an individual’s ability to work under pressure with examinations.
While all these perks are beneficial to students, examinations are not all-encompassing, making them an inadequatw benchmark to test learners’ understanding levels.
For example, results are only a snapshot of students’ knowledge because it tests students’ understanding on several lessons.
Conversely, continuous assessments test learners’ knowledge on a specific lesson, enabling teachers to evaluate them on every aspect of a topic. This provides a comprehensive and accurate view of students’ understanding levels, allowing teachers to discover their high and low points for necessary improvement.
Additionally, examinations are associated with stress and anxiety; a study shows that test anxiety was found in 40.3% of males and 55.8% of females. If there is a lack of regular assessment, students can’t gauge their knowledge on subjects, and this increases their anxiety.
More so, rather than study to understand, many students cram their notes to pass, impeding their understanding of a course. However, with regular assessment, learners are fully aware of their comprehension on a subject. They understand challenging areas ahead and seek help before their final examinations, making them confident rather than anxious about final tests.
The cancellation of mid-year examinations and the adoption of regular assessments by Singaporean schools will significantly impact the students’ academic success. They will experience less pressure, have a deeper understanding of concepts and retain knowledge better. It will also provide timely insights for teachers to structure teachings for students’ needs.
At Explico, we believe assessment based learning is the pathway achieving optimal success academically. This is why we provide our students with resources for regular assessment to analyze their weaknesses and strengths. Visit our online portal today for a free assessment test.