Teaching Test-Taking Skills

college-examTesting should be as much about learning as assessing.  Even though I believe this, I caved in and started giving multiple choice exams years ago.

Blame it on Swiss cheese memory. Blame it on some fantastical conversion experience wherein I now believe memorization and identification are rigorous!

That’s hogwash.

To redeem my unpalatable decision, I give the students a chance to develop test taking skills with a nifty worksheet (stolen from the learning center at LSU).

The worksheet helps students review their test results, figure out why they missed particular questions, and then group their incorrect answers into patterns. The students meet with me to review the worksheet, and we use the office visit as a springboard to discuss specific strategies that can raise their grade in class.

The worksheet itself clusters missed questions into five categories: insufficient information, test anxiety, lack of test wisdom, test skills, and other. Insufficient information comes from weak studying skills and performance in class. In the consultation, we review the student’s notes, highlights in the textbook, attendance, grades to date, participation and discussion in class, and performance in general. The other categories have to do with test-taking, and I direct the student toward the Academic Learning Center.

Although my conclusion is based on anecdotal evidence, I do believe that the worksheet significantly improves a student’s grade. I’ve written about this activity before, but I like it so much that I think it bears repeating. Bonus points for the activity does inflate the student’s grade, but the process itself increases the student’s performance on the remaining tests. In any case, the student at least has put forth some kind of effort to learn something, and should be rewarded for that while still being held accountable for a test that retains the usual level of expectation.

Grab the worksheet here:
ExaminingReturnedTests.pdf