The Semester Exam Principle

“You’re going to test us over EVERYTHING we’ve learned this whole semester?”

Semester exams are just a few weeks away and students who have barely said a word for the last few months are suddenly wide awake and quite vocal. “But why??” “We can use notes, right?” “You don’t mean everything do you?”

I used to be super easy in my semester exams. It is a lot of material, and the students do have several other classes to keep up with, and, yes, you can successfully navigate life without being able to identify a predicate nominative or explain the theme of “Tell Tale Heart.”

I have changed, though. Now, I do test over everything, and I do expect my students to be able to identify a predicate nominative and explain the theme of “Tell Tale Heart.”

Do I hate my students??

Absolutely not.

Do I think they’re all going to be English majors?

I always hope for a few. But, no. That’s not it.

It’s because of my “semester exam principle”: Retention of information is crucial to success in every facet of life.

Students today have SO MUCH information that it all ends up just crashing over them like a wave. They are drenched with information, but then they “dry up” and get ready for the next soaking. Nothing sticks, nothing lasts. I see students cramming for tests every day, stuffing information in their brains just long enough to get a good grade, then forgetting it.

What would happen if our doctors did that? Our accountants? Our pilots?

And though students think it doesn’t matter right now, those of us “older” folks know that the habits we develop in school carry on through college and into our careers. 

But even more important than our grades or career, this principle applies to our Christian life.

A quick search of the word “remember” in scriptures yields 231 results. Several of those verses refer to God remembering his people and his promises. Many are commands for believers to remember God’s commands. Over and over again, we see the prophets lamenting the fact that the people of God have not remembered His faithfulness. We see the writers of the epistles challenging the readers to remember what they have been taught, what they have seen, what they know to be true.

So don’t let all that information just wash over you. Soak it deep into your pores. Drink it in.


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