This is a question that has been asked by students, and teachers, for years and years. In most universities I am aware of exams are only part of the final grade. They are just a piece of the picture. There has probably been somewhat of a move back to more exams in recent years because it is now so easy for students to plagiarize on assignments.

There is no simple answer to your question. Tests generally are easy to administer and grade, though not so easy to develop. They mostly eliminate the cheating factor, and can do a good job of assessing learning. If exams require students to apply knowledge rather than just regurgitate it they can be quite effective as an assessment tool.

Learner centered approaches to assessment are used in many colleges and universities, usually as part of the assessment process, which usually also includes at least one formal exam.

A test or an examination (or "exam") is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker's knowledge, skill, aptitude, physical fitness, or classification in many other topics (e.g., beliefs). A test may be administered orally, on paper, on a computer, or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills. Tests vary in style, rigor and requirements. For example, in a closed book test, a test taker is often required to rely upon memory to respond to specific items whereas in an open book test, a test taker may use one or more supplementary tools such as a reference book or calculator when responding to an item. A test may be administered formally or informally. An example of an informal test would be a reading test administered by a parent to a child. An example of a formal test would be a final examination administered by a teacher in a classroom or an I.Q. test administered by a psychologist in a clinic. Formal testing often results in a grade or a test score.[1] A test score may be interpreted with regards to a norm or criterion, or occasionally both. The norm may be...