The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Face-off: In-person testing allows for a more focused environment

Ethan Seaney

I was lucky enough to never experience the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic whilst in college. I lived my COVID year when I was 15, doing my online Algebra III and Economics assignments on a Chromebook my school provided us. One thing I am particularly happy about missing during this time period is online testing.

Taking a test online simply ruins the testing experience. When one takes an exam in person, all aspects of the testing environment are controlled and generally cater to the success of the person testing.

In a classroom, the room is quiet, and everyone is focused on their paper. I have always found it easier to focus on my work when I am surrounded by others doing the same thing. The environment is just what I need to succeed.

Beyond this, the alternative to in-person testing — usually Honorlock — is just vastly inferior to the physical environment. Honorlock testing requires the student to be in a completely quiet room. This is simply impossible to achieve in most students’ living conditions.

During my freshman year, my roommate and I had to work out a different schedule on days that we had these online tests. This is extremely difficult when the room is supposed to be a shared space. I never fail to think that it is a little bit unfair for the roommate who has no tests to take to have to leave their room.

Another aspect of in-person testing that is lost in an online environment is the ability to ask questions. Sometimes clarification is needed concerning certain test questions, and there is no practical way to do that sitting at home in front of a computer.

While there is not a great way to get data on the benefits of asking questions during tests, I would venture to say that students generally score higher when they ask questions rather than not. Online testing completely eliminates this possibility.

Many teachers have moved to an online test format. I truly believe this is a holdover from the days of COVID. It is easier to have Canvas grade tests for you than it is to put an answer sheet through a machine. It is definitely easier than hand grading papers.

I understand that professors and graduate students have plenty on their plate without grading tests. However, the benefits for the student far outweigh the cons. I find it hard to believe this is not also reflected students scoring higher on in-person tests than online ones.

Despite all this, there are a couple of pros to Honorlock tests. They can be made available for a full day, for example, which allows for more choice on the student’s part in when to take the exam. I would never turn my nose up at a few extra hours of study time. This is not possible with in-person tests.

Also, one would be remiss not to mention the fact that different testing environments work for different people. Some thrive in silence, while others work better with commotion in the room. Everyone is different.

However, completely converting to online testing options for a class does not allow students to work to their best potential. Perhaps teachers can offer both options. There must be a compromise in reach that allows each student to succeed individually.

About the Contributor
Lucy Hallmark
Lucy Hallmark, Opinion Editor
Lucy Hallmark is a sophomore biochemistry major from Summit, Mississippi. She currently serves as the Opinion Editor. [email protected]
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