Who Invented Exams?

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If there’s one thing that binds students across nations and continents, it’s the general distaste towards examinations. No one likes them. You could probably count on one hand the number of students who say, “I really like exams!” Many students love to study. But the moment you add an examination to the equation, things change drastically.

You find yourself looking for online exam help while wondering, “Can’t I pay someone to take my test?” That’s the desperation you can resort to when you don’t want to appear for an examination. Well, who should you blame for this? History is a little murky about this. You won’t find many details about this, so take it with a grain of salt. But the title of the inventor of exams in the USA is given to an American philanthropist and businessman named Henry Fischel.

Henry Fischel: The Inventor of Exams

You’ve probably cursed the American businessman every time you’ve had to appear for an examination. But there’s no written documentation that officially credits Henry Fischel as the first person to invent exams. It’s all undocumented. So, you can’t push the entire blame on him. First, let’s learn a bit more about Henry Fischel.

The American businessman settled in New York City after migrating from Russia in 1885. He was part of the real estate business. Fischel was also actively part of Jewish communal affairs. Amongst his philanthropic activities, you can include –

·        Donations to Yeshiva University

·        Funding of Henry Fischel Foundation for Research

It is believed that Henry Fischel invented the concept of exams to assess students’ topic knowledge. But that’s not all. Only theoretical knowledge is no good unless students can apply it in real life. Thus, exams would test both theoretical and practical knowledge to assess students’ understanding of a topic.

Now, there’s a catch. The American businessman isn’t the only person credited with being the inventor of examinations. There’s another person with the same name! But this time, it’s a professor at Indiana University. Henry A. Fischel, a religious studies professor at the university, has been credited with introducing standardized tests. It’s a bit confusing. But history hasn’t been kind enough to keep a proper record.

History of Examinations All Over the World

The concept of exams was already in the air way before the late 1800s. In fact, China was one of the oldest countries that accepted exams on a national level. Let’s dig a little deeper into exams in various countries.

1. China

For a long time, China used to select people based on merit instead of birth to take part in the state bureaucracy. But a written exam wasn’t in play until much later. In fact, it began during the Sui dynasty. The exams tested a candidate’s knowledge of writing and Chinese classics. Since state officials were chosen based on merit, it added more legitimacy to their titles. After all, if it had been hereditary, it would be impossible to figure out if a deserving candidate was in a high position.

Want an interesting tidbit? Well, the concept of Imperial exams is long gone in China. However, it still exists in spirit. Just check out the civil service exam conducted by the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China. You’ll find traces of the Imperial exam there. China was the first country to introduce the merit system.

2. England

You must have noticed the advantages of a merit-based system of selection of state officials. Well, others weren’t blind either. For example, England adopted the civil service examinations in 1806. Pass this exam with flying colors, and you have a one-way ticket to Her Majesty’s Civil Service.

England also introduced the Cambridge Assessment. In the late 19th century, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge were tasked with creating a standardized test for males in the country. The institutes were renowned for their high-quality education. It’s not surprising that they were chosen for the task. The first exam was administered on 14th December 1958. In the exam, students had to show their prowess in Latin, English, German, French, Geography, History, Mathematics, and various other subjects.

3. India

The final country on this list is India. Let’s go back to the Mauryan Dynasty. Consider the Kautilya Arthashastra, which was written in 313 BC. It is one of the first treatises highlighting the requirements for choosing public servants. But the concept of modern examinations was introduced in 1853. Until then, you would have to be nominated to be a civil official. But the Moderates protested against this. They wanted a fair examination. That’s why the English Parliament eliminated the nomination process. That’s how the Civil Service examination was introduced.

Why Do Students Hate Exams?

You’ve gone through the basic history behind examinations. Did you notice anything common? Look carefully. You’ll notice that in all cases, the primary need was to choose candidates based on merit. Wouldn’t you consider that a good thing? While that’s certainly true, the concept of exams has evolved significantly since those times. Now, it’s just a rat race.

Ask any student why they hate exams. They’ll give you a million reasons. But amongst them, high academic pressure is a major factor. In earlier times, the main purpose of exams was to assess a candidate’s topic knowledge. Now, it’s a race to see who can finish their exams within a limited time. Millions of students compete for limited spots. The competition is intense.

Failure to score well in an exam can have drastic consequences. Some take it as a challenge. Others don’t fare well. They consider poor grades a testament to their own worth as individuals. You can see where this is headed, right? Mental health is already a joke in academia. Add in the pressure of exams, and you have a recipe for disaster. So, what’s the solution? Check out the next section.

How to Deal with Exams Like a Pro

In college or university, you’ll notice a wide range of reactions to the announcement of exams. Very few students look forward to it. Most would groan and complain. But there are some for whom exams mean hell. If you fall in the last category, here’s some advice – you can’t achieve anything with that mindset. So, let’s go over some tips that can help you out.

  • Approach exams with a healthy mindset.

  • Remind yourself your exam performance doesn’t dictate your worth.

  • Be kind to yourself and set realistic goals.

  • Understand your weaknesses and work on them.

  • Manage your time well.

  • Eat healthy and get plenty of sleep.

  • Share your worries with friends or family members.

Remember, you’re not alone. If you feel burdened, feel free to seek professional help. The moment you stop imagining exams as an impossible hurdle, you’ll be able to achieve a lot more. It’s all in the mindset.

In conclusion,

Many people consider Henry Fischel, an American businessman & philanthropist, as the inventor of exams. The concept of exams has evolved a lot. Despite the shortcomings of modern exams, you can’t avoid them. So, consider the tips in this article and deal with them like a pro. 

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