While tests are integral in terms of measuring knowledge and academic success, they should also be utilized to further improve students’ learning experiences. Too often, teachers will merely hand back assessments without giving students ample opportunity to learn from the mistakes they have made.
There are several ways teachers can improve on their post-test practices, starting with making previous tests readily available for students to review. This can be done by allowing students to review tests during their Flex or prep periods if they wish to. This way, teachers will not feel obligated to allow students to keep the tests but can also offer students the most amount of review help possible.
One of the most useful methods of studying for cumulative exams is reviewing the mistakes made on previous tests. This gives students the opportunity to focus on areas of weaknesses and is crucial to effective learning.
However, while many teachers currently review tests in class the day after they are taken, the process is so short and abrupt that students rarely have the opportunity to let the information truly sink in. Giving students flexibility to come in and discuss past mistakes throughout the year would facilitate a healthier learning process.
Given the importance of giving students control over the test reviewing process, it is also crucial to avoid forcing review sessions upon unwilling students. For instance, a student who gets a perfect score would find a test review during class time meaningless — instead, teachers should go over tests during Flex, so that only those who are in need of a review must attend. Precious time is wasted during class by reviewing tests, because not all students are able to benefit from it.
Finally, with regards to English and social studies classes that require writing assessments, students should be given the opportunity to revise essays for a better grade. Students currently often accept the grade that they receive without reading comments made on their papers. By allowing revisions, for at least a limited number of drafts, students have a direct incentive to review their errors to improve upon their mistakes and weaknesses.
The use of tests as study guides have the potential to improve learning effectiveness significantly — it is time that teachers begin reshaping their post-assessment policies to fulfill the promise of such reviews.