hope - the thing with tests is they only really evaluate how good a person is at taking tests. It's a test-specific kind of stress, not a realistic kind of stress. If you want to test a person's skills under stress you should jump out at them from behind a corner and gauge their response
I'm more inclined to agree with Dereck that everyday in class should be a test. If one has demonstrated regularly in class that they deserve to move forward, just present the new belt to them at the end of class. People will also work harder in each individual class because day to day performance matters more in this kind of setting compared to when advancement depends on a finite test in time.
Christie is understanding better of what I was getting at.
Yes testing puts stress on a student HOWEVER when it comes to testing there are only "certain" requirements the student has to fill in order to pass on. What is happening is students will become "capable" of doing just those things in order to grade and to move on. What I'm saying is as a student you become good at "everything". Your over all performance in far more under scrutiny every day and at the end of the day you are rewarded for that.
In class I was tested continually out of the blue, put on the spot in front of everybody; don't see that any different then testing for a grade. I was pushed at every turn. If my Instructor felt I wasn't putting my all into it he'd point it out. One such incident I was bagged. I had weight lifted prior to class and at the end we had to do 100 kicks per leg on the heavy back. I was sucking wind. I was behind everybody. My Instructor said, "Dereck, did you want somebody else to finish those for you?" That was motivation enough to make me suck it up and get it done. I was put on the spot in front of everybody and he knew that would push me and he knew I could do it ... I just didn't believe it. A good Instructor will continually test you in class; push you beyond what you think you can do. Take you out of your comfort zone. At times during training I felt genuine fear, greater than any test could have done. Testing didn't make me better, training made me better. As an A/Cst. with the RCMP I've had to use some of those skills, testing didn't help me during these situations, training over and over made those techniques flow. The stress of training and being pushed was the deciding factor. That is the real truth.
If students know that their everyday performance in all skills will move them forward they will work harder in class. Put testing parameters with time required as the deciding factor than most will just work towards that. In the end you will have substandard martial artists. That is what we as a martial arts society are seeing. I was stuck in that earlier on; I got off that ride.