PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Test Stress: Why Have Tests, Anyway?

If tests can make students nervous, anxious, and even downright scared, shouldn't schools just get rid of them? Well, believe it or not, tests don't just exist to torture you or give you extra work to do. Teachers and schools give students tests for very important reasons:

To see if you're learning. Whether it's math, history, science, or language, teachers have to cover a lot of material in class, and students have to keep up. Giving a test is a way for a teacher to see which students are learning the skills and knowledge they should be learning, and which ones are having trouble. Depending on how kids do on the test, the teacher will know if he or she must go back over some things, or if it's okay to keep moving forward.

To see how well your school is teaching you. Schools are important to society because everyone wants kids to eventually graduate with the ability to earn a living, be good citizens, and one day run the world! So sometimes schools have to prove they're doing a good job of educating their students, and one way to do this is to have them take tests.

To assign grades. As you know, grades are important in most schools, and tests play a big role in that. Aside from your classwork, tests are one of the best ways for you to show the teacher that you've really learned what's being taught, and for the teacher to figure out what grade you deserve. Grades give you something to strive for and work towards -- like a trophy or a ribbon in a sports event -- and they're also a way to show your parents how you're doing in school.

To keep you motivated. Admit it: you work harder if you know someone is checking up on your work. For example, if your mom tells you to clean your room but you know she'd never going to go in and check, you might be tempted to let it slide, right? Well, tests help make sure that you don't let your classwork and homework slide. Because you know that you'll eventually have to take a test on the material, you might be more likely to give it that extra effort and make sure you know everything you're supposed to know.

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