Test retakes allow for better understanding of material

Claire Roach, Web/Co-Opinion Editor

A typical test week for a student looks like this: said student agonizes over the material from the unit and deciphers necessary test information from irrelevant content. Then, they study all that they can, oftentimes resulting in confusion that leads to study groups with other students from their class. From there, a student may meet with a tutor, ask the teacher to review the content or seek online resources to relearn the content. The night before, most often around 1 a.m., burnout starts to kick in and studying is far past productive. 

On test day, students spit out all of the short-term content they crammed into their brains, and then end up moving on to the next subject. The most useful skill that comes out of this system is that students learn how to memorize for specific things, not for a genuine understanding of the material.

In a Ted Talk highlighting mastery-based learning, Sal Khan of Khan Academy notes the absurdity that comes with the traditional lessons-to-test system of school. Let’s say that a student receives 70 percent on an exam. That then leaves 30 percent of material from that unit that is not entirely understood. At this point in our academic careers, what we learn forms the foundation for our mastery of these subjects in the future. 

Students take tests in order to identify where the gaps in our learning are, and then the class moves on to the next unit, often building off of the prior one without addressing the unlearned content. Students fall further behind because they don’t understand the fundamental skills of those units. If students can have the opportunity to retake their tests, then this assures that they are going over the content that they missed. Teachers will not have to reteach subjects as often and students will gain a deeper grasp of the material.

The opposing argument is that this structure is in preparation for college. The key word here is preparation. High school students should be able to make mistakes now in order to practice the skills that they will need further down the road. 

Your grades should be defined by the effort you put into your work. Retakes on tests allow this, as if the student wants to earn an A, they can go into class to rewrite and redo problems. This ensures a further understanding of the content, and a beneficial solution for students and teachers alike.