Re: Honorary or Earned???
A teacher should know the level of his students even without a test, the test and ranking are only a formality. A student who deserves a rank for his/her efforts, should get it. If the circumstances prohibit giving it to them after a test, so be it.
As stated above, rarely do students feel they deserve a rank, even with hard tests, long preperation periods and when some of the students are required to improve something in the next few weeks prior to getting their ranking (advantage of small orgainizations - teacher can fail/re-test you, no need for external visiting Shihan ...)