There are a few cases where I firmly believe that an exam is necessary. Most of the time though, they are a complete waste of time. People learn much much more as they go along, and real understanding and capability is reflected far more accurately in day to day performance than the snapshot an exam provides.

One feels very much that those people who love exams and hate coursework, are just those people who framed their bronze swimming certificate as a child, and 'bike license' when they got it. Document worshipping fools, I think is the technical term.

Take degrees for example. Most degrees involve a learning and skill element. That knowledge can be crammed into one's mind and forgotten is almost a tautology. Ask any student to repeat the formulas verbatim that they used in an exam two semesters ago and you will see my case in point, and it is this. Exam learning is fire-and-forget learning. Within a period of weeks, the detailed sharp library of facts you assimilated to get you through that evil mid=term or final is gone, it's mush.

However the information you gathered yourself through your coursework, the skills, the texts, the pictures, the ideas, they remain crisp and strong because they are something you worked intimately with over a sustained and prolonged period. These people, the ones who excel at coursework and don't do well on exams, these people make excellent workers later in life. Because life isn't an exam. It is one project after another, personal, business or other, until the day you die.

All that being true I do believe in exams for Medical students and Flight students, some forms of Engineering, and other critical professional roles where lives are in danger, and mission knowledge and pressure response is instrumental in success. It is always best to be balanced about these things.

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