How important are high stakes exams?

There doesn’t seem to be a general section in “exams”, and perhaps this broader question belongs here anyway.

I ran into this article about high stakes exams and covid, and whether there might be long-term changes in exam requirements as a result of covid adjustments.

It’s mostly about national high school exams, and mentions the ACT, not about actuarial exams. But it seemed apropos.

I liked the AP exams, I felt like if you got a 4 or 5, you’d be pretty well prepared for a college course and the syllabus materials are the same as those used in actual college courses. The SAT on the other hand, I felt was pretty pointless since I felt like the only thing you’d get better at after preparing for it was knowing how to do SAT problems better and not much else.

My perception of the US system is that it’s relatively forgiving in the sense that you can take these tests as many times as you want really, and you can totally fail at college and still find a way to succeed at life if you can get your stuff together, eventually. Like, you can take the SAT or CLEP tests even if you’re 45. On the other hand, I believe other countries high-stakes testing has a much bigger impact on your life than that of the US. I feel like that would be ridiculous as that shouldn’t be the only chance you get in life to choose a career path.

With regards to national high school exams, in my country they were cancelled last summer because of covid. The government attempted to assign grades by algorithm which was a predictable disaster as student got grades based on the historic performance if their schools rather than their own abilities. As a result they switched to teacher grades but this caused massive grade inflation. Students are happy now but will probably have issues in future unless they perform well in the next stage of their education.

As a result high stake exams are definitely here to stay. The format may change as a result but the format is always changed over time so that in itself is business as usual.

Very few students go to competitive universities, and the places where they are competitive, exam scores are necessary but not sufficient for getting in.

As for actuarial exams, the societies keep trying to change them up all the time, and the pandemic is no new spur in terms of gate-keeping function. It did get the SOA to accelerate an operational change it was already working on – computer-based FSA exams – but that’s been something they’ve worked on for years.

Same with CAS exams. The plan was to gradually move to CBT, but hey, here we are. It seems to be mostly successful, too. (I’ve read scattered reports of CBT sites closed due to the pandemic.)