Underwhelmed during lecture

I begin this post as I sit in class. The course appears to require that I go to class. There is no textbook that I could follow on my own. There was a syllabus given, but it is not quite detailed enough to allow me to teach myself all the material. I could teach myself entirely based upon the homework, but there is no guarantee that the homework would require all the testable skills. I could come, occasionally look up and jot down a note, and otherwise do other work. However, such a system causes a large drop in productivity over simply not going to class and working on my own.

As it stands, I have several options which I do not like. I believe this is an unavoidable side-effect of the use of tests which you can only take once. Were this a more realistic situation, I would have a chance to go back and learn any skills that I had overlooked after teaching myself. However, with a timed test where you cannot use any outside resources, there is only a single chance. If I overlook some topic, I will likely get a question wrong bring my grade down by as much as several letters. Should school be structured in such a sink or swim method? Do we wish to test who can follow the rules, or who understands the material? The second option seems to me to be a better goal, but the first appears to be the one that schools follow.  This is the first time I have been to this class in a week and a half. I am underwhelmed. The professor remains on review of a topic which I understand. Although I do often need the review, this time I do not and do not get much out of my hour here. The threat of material unexpectedly appearing on a test still holds me there. Is this what we want the system to promote: attending for the sake of a test instead of attending for the sake of understanding?

For now, this is a problem for which I do not see a solution. Any suggestions?