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Tips on Giving Tests and Quizzes

Assessment is an important tool in the classroom; make sure your evaluation is accurate. These tips will help improve the usefulness of your tests and quizzes.
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Tips on Giving Tests and Quizzes

  1. The most effective teachers assess student learning often. This discourages student procrastination and cramming and provides a more accurate assessment of student learning.

  2. Strive for higher order levels of thinking in your questions. The biggest disadvantage of multiple-choice questions is the over-reliance upon rote memorization. One research study found that of all the things a student learns, 80 percent is forgotten in one year. Most of what is forgotten are facts memorized for one quiz or test.

  3. Develop a file for your old tests and worksheets. A large three-ring binder or manila file folder will work. When a test is used, jot notes on the top as to which questions should be replaced because they are too hard or too easy.

  4. If you give diagnostic tests at the beginning of the year, code the test items related to each skill area. Students then receive a checklist indicating their deficiencies. The checklist can also reference pages in the textbook. On the final exam, students only have to complete those areas in which they did not show mastery on the pretest. You can use the Skill Assessment Form to keep track of their progress. (Contributed by Barb Wagner.)

  5. Some teachers choose to make the first test relatively easy so as to build students' confidence.

  6. Run two-page tests back to back and grade all of the same page at once. When done with the whole stack, just turn it over and begin grading the other side. This way you don't waste time turning all the pages over before you can start grading the second page. Also, you don't have to flip the pages back to page one to begin scoring. Just turn the stack over again. Tests run double-sided do not consume time with collating and stapling. Answer sheets help with multiple-page objective tests. You may only have to grade one sheet instead of flipping through several pages. You can then save the test copies for future use and don't have to run them off again. (Suggested by Barb Steinhauser.)

  7. Use publishers' textbook tests when possible, but feel free to adapt them to your objectives.

  8. Use as few items as necessary to assess a skill or knowledge. Why use a 50-item test if 20 items will give you the same information?

  9. Some teachers don't give make-up exams except for extended absences. By allowing each student to throw out his or her lowest grade a single missed test does not penalize a student.

  10. Develop a computer test file. A variety of software programs are available to permit the development of a test bank. You can use FunBrain for this purpose. Tests and quizzes are easily and quickly generated. With some you can even save performance data, allowing you to eliminate ineffective questions.

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