To Test or Not to Test

A Student’s Perspective


Audrey Engel, Reporter

According to the IB Coordinator, Mrs. Hernandez, due to the ongoing pandemic and compromised learning, IB testing has two options: cancel testing worldwide and use the system they used last May, or leave it to individual schools to decide whether to take the exams or use the system from last May. The option to cancel testing entails a score based solely upon the internal assessment or oral and teachers’ predicted grades, while the option to continue testing would resemble testing from years in the past. The decision to test or not will be made based on the opinions of students, teachers, and parents. 

As a senior at Adams, I do not wish to carry out testing this year, nor do I know any student who does. Last year, when tests were not executed, scores improved significantly based on IAs. Because of this, the decision to test would put Adams students at a strong disadvantage, as other students around the world may not have to test, thus increasing their scores. This can lead to the loss of IB credit in college as well as the IB diploma. In fact, in some schools, the number of IB Diplomas awarded in May 2020 doubled in comparison to years in the past. Additionally, education in the past year has been entirely compromised; all of the IB classes I have enrolled in since junior year have conformed to an online format, resulting in a less effective course. Consequently, this format has affected students’ knowledge of the subject and their ability to test in subjects well. 

Personally, I know that my ability to test in all of my IB classes has been hindered. For example, discussions in classes such as philosophy, english, and spanish have been extremely difficult during online classes; discussions simply cannot be performed as they are in a classroom. Additionally, many students have issues paying attention while online. During class, it is easy to use a cellphone or complete work for other classes instead of doing an assignment or listening to class. 

Despite my preference to not test, there are downsides. Primarily, foreign language scores would be based on orals, which are speaking assessments. Since speaking tends to be the hardest skill when learning a new language, this may put students at a disadvantage, as the other portions of the test will be eliminated. Although the oral is less work than the entirety of the standard IB test, it is not representative of the full extent of students’ abilities. This leads me to my next point, which is that internal assessments and orals cannot cover the range of understanding that a student has in any subject. Only the full IB tests can truly begin to gage a proper understanding of students’ knowledge. 

That being said, is it fair to test students on material they have learned primarily under compromised circumstances? A standard IB test operates under the assumption that students have been taught material in person and to its fullest extent. Since that cannot be said for this year’s IB classes, it would not be fair to carry out testing. 

Although I was unable to find an alternative opinion to quote, I asked some of my peers to provide their opinions on the matter. When asked what she thought about testing this year, IB diploma candidate and senior, Brigid Reilly, states that she feels as though there is no reasonable explanation for why the tests would be beneficial to students this year. Reilly went on to detail her experiences in her classes, feeling as though she, as well as other students, are unprepared due to the circumstances the pandemic has fostered. She also mentioned the mental health aspect of testing, stating that it would be quite strenuous on students considering our limited preparation and attendance in school. 

Overall, to have IB students participate in testing they are not inclined to do with limited preparation is unfair to say the least. Considering the past year, the two most important semesters in IB have been detrimentally changed due to the pandemic, leaving many with damaged mental health and not nearly enough preparation. Not only did scores dramatically increase with a lack of testing last year, but this year, students will then be compared to those who did not test, thus assuming lower scores and lessening our chances for college credit. Once again, to quote Miss. Reilly, “there is no reasonable explanation for why the tests would be beneficial to students this year.”

Should IB students be exempted from the examinations this year?


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