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Which one is better? Taking an Exam with no preparation done beforehand or Skipping it altogether?

I have done the former (i.e take tests unprepared) a lot many times than the latter - so much that I have gotten sort of used to to it. I have observed that if I have insufficient time for preparing for an exam, I don't study as hard for it as I would have before adopting this practice.

My mentors are of the view that one shouldn't ever skip a test. That I'll learn more than just something at the cost of sitting through those hours of the exam.

Is this worth my current subconscious habit?Is it good to continue this if I find that the frequency of me taking half-prepared exams is increasing ?

PPS: I am talking about a Multiple Choice based exam with Negative marking present in it.These are sort of Practice tests for the main exam.

PS: This is NOT a debate or discussion. I Genuinely want to know which is better for improvement in academics.

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    The answer would of course partly depend on how the exam is to be graded. For instance, if there is no "penalty" for guessing, then if you take the exam unprepared you are likely to get at least some positive number of points, whereas if you skip it you certainly get zero. So it is to your advantage to take it, in terms of your grade. – Nate Eldredge Nov 30 '19 at 18:47
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    "This is NOT a debate or discussion. I Genuinely want to know which is better for improvement in academics." The point is that there may not be (indeed, I don't think there is) a single answer to this question; neither may be objectively better. So there is an inescapable discussion-y aspect to this question. Whether that's significant enough to make this question off-topic is another issue, but your PS isn't fair. – Noah Schweber Nov 30 '19 at 19:23
  • It's not clear what you are asking at all. – user2705196 Nov 30 '19 at 20:09
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    This seems a little like asking "I genuinely want to know which is better - cats or dogs." Both have their pros and cons, which you seem to know. More detail might help clarify the question. Are you asking about midterm / final exams for undergraduate courses, or something else? You say you are skipping "a lot" of tests and taking others unprepared -- are you still in good standing academically? – cag51 Nov 30 '19 at 21:31
  • @NateEldredge Its an MCQ based exam with negative marking - penalty for just guessing type . – Sristy Dec 1 '19 at 7:46
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Students usually decide this based on the consequences of each option. At some universities, you can retake failed exams but you cannot retake passed exams to improve your grade. In this case, it might be worth skipping the exam instead of taking it and "risking" obtaining a low passing grade that you cannot get rid of.

It might also be that you the rules give you only a couple of chances to pass this exam, so you do not want to miss this chance. Or that you do not care about the grade as long as you pass, so you might as well have a try. Or that past exams are not made available to students, so it might be worth for you to go and learn how exams in this subject look like.

If none of the above applies (i.e., if you know you will fail anyway and are only asking whether the time spent at the exam will be worth it in terms of how much you learn), I would say that those hours would be much better spent learning the subject or doing practice exercises on your own. Surely you will learn more by doing exercises in a comfortable environment (at home or at the library) than by doing the same exercises in exam conditions.

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    You may learn more about thinking and answering questions under stress, a useful life skill, by taking the exam. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 30 '19 at 21:53
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    Some instructors discuss the exam questions at the next class meeting after the exam. That discussion might benefit you more if you've already tried to answer the questions during the exam. – Andreas Blass Dec 1 '19 at 0:09
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Can you not take a year off college, so to catch up studying what you have missed? I consider that to be the best option. On your year off, you can take external classes, if you wish.

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  • This seems like a high financial burden. It is not clear to me why you assume the OP can afford it. – user111388 Feb 24 at 20:01
  • Self-studying from home very little costs money. If he really needs tuition, he can find plentiful tutorials from universities at Youtube. That hardly costs anything. My sister majoring computer science took one year off university when she was sick after a surgery and so needed a year of recovery. She used that one full year for studying at home. She received notes from fellow students and studied them up. A year later, she returned to university, all prepared and confident in her abilities, and ready for exams. Moreover, my sister had a chance to repay her college loans by installments. – Rita Geraghty Feb 24 at 20:38
  • So who pays for housing and food? – user111388 Feb 24 at 21:50

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