Exams-Free Education: Benefits and Drawbacks by Michelle Brooks

Exams Free Ed
Exams-Free Education: Benefits and Drawbacks by Michelle Brooks takes on the idea that standardized testing not only isn’t needed but has a negative impact on learning. She joins a growing field who think it’s time to move on and in the process improve learning for all students.


  • Some time ago, the words “exams-free education” might have sounded like total gibberish. But education is changing, new approaches and methods emerge, and exams-free training gets more attention. For example, Finland, which is famous for its high-quality school system, has only one mandated standardized test. So, is the exams-free education a thing? Is it worth implementing or at least trying out? Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of exams-free education to find out.

Benefits of Exams-Free Education — Emphasis on Active Learning

  • First of all, it is crucial to make a distinction between active and passive learning. Active learning means that all students are engaged in the educational process, which can take lots of forms (writing, problem-solving, reflecting). The main goal is to make sure that all students are working and studying simultaneously. On the other hand, passive learning means that students receive information from the teacher, try to memorize it and reciprocate later. Is not it surprisingly similar to exams?
  • Yes, the exams follow the same approach. And the consequences can be dire as students will not be able to study independently. What does it mean? All sorts of things: for example, students will not know how to find credible sources when it comes to writing essays. Learners may not be able to find, understand, and summarize information effectively as they got used to passive learning.
  • So, it is a detrimental practice. Students have to learn actively, so they will be able to study independently. It is a skill which proves invaluable, especially while studying at college.

Exams-Free Education Offers More Feedback

  • Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned educator and author of this famous TED Talk, warns: standardized exams are too judgmental and do not offer enough feedback. It is not an efficient educational practice, especially for learners who struggle with studies and want to get better.
  • Think about it this way. The only feedback the students get after the exam is a grade — for example, A, B or C. But it is only a letter which does not help them improve, especially if a person constantly receives bad grades. And, which is the most important, people tend to live up to the grades they used to receive subconsciously. So, if the student continually has F, one will most likely keep getting this grade.
  • Exams-free education focuses on descriptive real-time feedback, not a judgmental one. First of all, if students work together, they can give and receive feedback instantaneously. Also, the teacher’s role will not be boiled down to simply placing a letter on a piece of paper. Instead, the educator can communicate with students and help them get better.

More Attention to 21st-Century Skills

  • Studying is a complicated process. But exams tend to reduce this complexity to a couple of test questions. This approach does not motivate students to explore the subject further. All they need to do is memorize information and provide the correct answer to the question. Moreover, exams pay little to no attention to so-called 21st-century skills. These are invaluable not only in college and school but also further in life. Think about creativity, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial thinking.
  • These skills can not be measured by answering standard exam questions; still, they are of crucial importance. And so the examination system must change. For example, instead of standardized exams, teachers can introduce the project-based assessments. This type of evaluation can take different forms. Think about working on research projects, creating a blog, or even something as simple as making a poster.
  • Such activities do not only allow students to go beyond standard exam questions but also help them in expressing creativity without fear of being judged. Still, exams-free education has its challenges and limitations, which are essential to consider.

Exams Free Ed 2

Exams Do Help Study Better (If Used Effectively)

  • Research proves that exams and preparing for them help students study better. How? Let’s go back to the process of memorizing and reciprocating the information. In some ways, it is similar to physical exercises. When people repeatedly train some muscle groups, they become stronger. The same goes for the memory: if students consistently try to memorize some information, chances are they will succeed. Thus, learners will be able to retrieve this information even after some time.
  • But it is important not to boil this technique down to simply memorizing and retrieving. To get the most out of it, students can form the questions and try to come up with answers based on the information they have learned. This way, they will memorize information more efficiently.

Drawbacks of Exams-Free Education Exams-Free Education Is Not That Specific

  • Exams have one significant benefit: they can accurately test students’ knowledge about a specific topic. For example, they determine whether students understood certain formulae or memorized historical dates. Exam-free education focuses on more broad ways of assessment, such as research projects. If so, it is hard to understand whether students picked up some specific knowledge or not.

Final Words

  • Education is versatile, and it changes continuously, with new studying approaches appearing. This process is also flexible and can be modified depending on students’ needs and goals. If so, it wise to utilize both approaches and combine exam-free education with actual tests. The goal here is to understand which method works best in every situation and do not be restricted by old-school exam techniques.

Michelle Brooks

  • Michelle is a freelance writer who works for EssayPro. She is from NY. Having several years of writing career behind, she can definitely state that some topics require more time and effort than others. She specializes in composing amazing essays. Mary knows for sure how important it is to develop your creativity to present exciting and engaging content. In this article, she shared some personal ideas supported by evidence on how to improve one’s creativity and learn to write extraordinarily about ordinary things. Her Twitter is @michellbrook23.
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