Monitoring Your Grades Will Help You Pinpoint Your Academic Weaknesses

Monitoring Your Grades Will Help You Pinpoint Your Academic Weaknesses.

While we often recall of exams as a fashion to exam students’ comprehension of material, exams can serve more than one purpose. Existence aware of why we are testing students and what exactly we desire to test can help make students’ and instructors’ experience of exams more than useful. The following tips will gear y’all towards issues yous should think about during the entire test procedure, from planning to reflection.

Before yous outset preparing an examination

Why are yous giving an test to your students?

  • To evaluate and class students. Exams provide a controlled environs for independent work and so are often used to verify students’ learning.
  • To motivate students to written report. Students tend to open their books more often when an evaluation is coming up. Exams tin can exist swell motivators.
  • To add variety to student learning. Exams are a form of learning action. They can enable students to run across the material from a different perspective. They too provide feedback that students can so utilize to amend their understanding.
  • To identify weaknesses and correct them. Exams enable both students and instructors to place which areas of the material students do not understand. This allows students to seek help, and instructors to accost areas that may need more than attention, thus enabling educatee progression and improvement.
  • To obtain feedback on your instruction. Y’all can apply exams to evaluate your own teaching. Students’ performance on the test will pinpoint areas where you should spend more time or change your current approach.
  • To provide statistics for the class or institution. Institutions frequently want information on how students are doing. How many are passing and declining, and what is the average achievement in grade? Exams can provide this information.
  • To accredit qualified students. Sure professions demand that students demonstrate the conquering of certain skills or knowledge. An exam tin can provide such proof – for example, the Uniform Final Exam (UFE) serves this purpose in accounting.

What do you want to appraise?

What yous want to assess should be related to your learning outcomes for the class.

  • Noesis or how it is used. Y’all can design your test questions to assess students’ noesis or power to apply cloth taught in class.
  • Process or product. You tin examination students’ reasoning skills and evaluate the process past focusing the marks and other feedback on the process they follow to go far at a solution. Alternatively, you lot can evaluate the end product.
  • The communication of ideas. You can evaluate students’ advice skills ­their power to express themselves – whether this is past writing a cogent statement, or creating an elegant mathematical proof.
  • Convergent thinking or divergent thinking. You can test your students’ ability to draw a single conclusion from different inputs (convergent thinking). Or yous may alternatively desire them to come with different possible answers (divergent thinking). Practice you wait unlike answers from students, or practice you lot await all of them to provide the same answer?
  • Accented or relative standards. Is student success defined past learning a set amount of material or demonstrating certain skills, or is student success measured by assessing the amount of progress the students make over the duration of the course?

How exercise you determine what to examination and how to test it?

The overall exam should be consistent with your learning outcomes for the form. At that place are a number of ways to review and prioritize the skills and concepts taught in a class. You could:

  • Use the topics list provided in your course outline
  • Skim through your lecture notes to notice primal concepts and methods
  • Review chapter headings and subheadings in the assigned readings
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What are the qualities of a expert test?

  • A skilful exam gives all students an equal opportunity to fully demonstrate their learning. With this in listen, y’all might reflect on the nature and parameters of your exam. For example, could the exam exist administered equally a take-dwelling house test? Two students might know the material equally well, but i of them might not perform well under the force per unit area of a timed or in-class testing situation. In such a case, what is information technology that yous actually desire to appraise: how well each student knows the material, or how well each performs under pressure? As well, it might be appropriate to allow students to bring memory aids to an exam. Once more, what is it that you lot want to assess: their ability to memorize a formula or their ability to use and apply a formula?
  • Consistency. If you give the same exam twice to the aforementioned students, they should get a similar class each fourth dimension.
  • Validity. Make sure your questions address what you lot desire to evaluate.
  • Realistic expectations. Your exam should contain questions that match the average student’s ability level. It should also exist possible to respond to all questions in the time allowed. To check the test, inquire a teaching assistant to take the test – if they can’t complete information technology in well under the time permitted then the exam needs to be revised.
  • Uses multiple question types. Different students are ameliorate at different types of questions. In society to allow all students to demonstrate their abilities, exams should include a diverseness of types of questions. Read our Education Tip, Request Questions: 6 Types.
  • Offer multiple ways to obtain full marks. Exams can be highly stressful and artificial ways to demonstrate knowledge. In recognition of this, you lot may want to provide questions that allow multiple ways to obtain full marks. For example, ask students to list v of the vii benefits of multiple-choice questions.
  • Complimentary of bias. Your students will differ in many ways including language proficiency, socio-economic groundwork, physical disabilities, etc. When constructing an exam, you should keep educatee differences in listen to watch for ways that the exams could create obstacles for some students. For example, the utilise of vernacular language could create difficulties for students whose first language is non English, and examples easily understood by North American students may exist inaccessible to international students.
  • Redeemable. An exam does non demand to be the sole opportunity to obtain marks. Assignments and midterms allow students to practice answering your types of questions and conform to your expectations.
  • Demanding. An exam that is too easy does not accurately measure students’ understanding of the fabric.
  • Transparent marking criteria. Students should know what is expected of them. They should be able to identify the characteristics of a satisfactory answer and sympathize the relative importance of those characteristics. This tin can be achieved in many means; you tin can provide feedback on assignments, draw your expectations in class, or mail service model solutions.
  • Timely. Spread exams out over the semester. Giving two exams one calendar week apart doesn’t requite students adequate fourth dimension to receive and reply to the feedback provided past the showtime examination. When possible, plan the exams to fit logically inside the flow of the grade material. It might exist helpful to place tests at the end of of import learning units rather than simply give a midterm halfway through the semester.
  • Accessible. For students with disabilities, exams must exist amenable to adaptive technologies such every bit screen-readers or screen magnifiers. Exams that have visual content, such as charts, maps, and illustrations, may need to be rendered past Waterloo’due south AccessAbility Services into a format that meets an adaptation.
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After the exam is ready

Prepare a marking scheme or rubric

Preparing a marking scheme ahead of time volition allow yous to review your questions, to verify that they are really testing the material you want to exam, and to think about possible alternative answers that might come up upwardly.

  • Wait at what others accept done. Chances are that you are not the just person who teaches this course. Look at how others choose to assign grades.
  • Make a marking scheme usable by non-experts. Write a model answer and use this as the basis for a marking scheme usable past not-experts. This ensures that your education administration and your students can easily empathise your marker scheme. Information technology too allows yous to have an external examiner marker the response, if need be. A rubric tin can be an effective tool to help you or your didactics assistants assess student work quickly and accurately. Sharing the rubric with your students as they brainstorm to study for the exam is too a skilful idea.
  • Requite consequential marks. Generally, marker schemes should not penalize the same error repeatedly. If an error is made early on just carried through the answer, you should only penalize information technology once if the rest of the response is sound.
  • Review the marking scheme after the exam. In one case the test has been written, read a few answers and review your key. You may sometimes find that students have interpreted your question in a style that is dissimilar from what you had intended. Students may come with fantabulous answers that may be slightly outside of what was asked. Consider giving these students partial marks.
  • When marking, make notes on exams. These notes should make information technology clear why y’all gave a particular marker. If exams are returned to the students, your notes will aid them empathize their mistakes and correct them. They will also help you should students want to review their test long after information technology has been given, or if they appeal their grade.

Inform students of the purpose and parameters of the test

  • Conspicuously communicate with students about what your goals are for any test or exam.  Don’t assume that students know what the pedagogical purpose of the exam or exam is.  Accept a discussion about your goals and desired outcomes, and assistance students empathize how specific aspects of the test or exam fit these goals.  Be open to making some changes if students have ideas to offering.
  • Indicate out the important sections in class plans, textbooks, and readings to guide exam and test preparation; where possible, provide multiple samples of tests and exam questions and answers. Consider conducting an test review practice.
  • Although you might not provide students with exam questions in advance, y’all should be prepared to answer questions such every bit:
    • What volition the test cover?
    • How much emphasis should I put on the textbook / lectures / etc…?
    • What fabric (if any) am I allowed to bring into the exam room?
    • When volition I become my marking?
    • What happens if, for a adept reason, I can’t attend the exam? Do I get to re-write?
    • Will I be given the chance to choose the topics on which I do questions?
    • Will I be told which criteria I am existence assessed on?
    • If I disagree politically or philosophically with the marker, will I go poor marks?
    • Will allowances exist made if English is not my first language?
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Later your students write the exam

Monitor the quality of your exams

Exams provide y’all with the opportunity to obtain feedback on educatee learning, your teaching methods, and the quality of the exam itself.

  • Write impressions on your exam and continue them. During the examination and the marking of the exam, continue track of which questions seem to be well understood, and which questions were often misunderstood.
  • Collect numerical data. If you lot have motorcar-scorable exams, you tin can get statistics on your questions, such as which questions were missed virtually oft or which distracters were most oftentimes chosen. In other cases y’all can collect an overview of the marks.
  • Get student feedback. You tin can leave space specifically for feedback on exams, or you lot can obtain feedback in class afterwards the exam. Consider asking your students to complete an exam wrapper – a brusk survey asking students near exam training strategies they used, what questions they institute hard to answer, and what they might do differently to set up for the side by side exam (see our Teaching Tip on Pedagogy Metacognitive Skills).

Reflect on the gathered information

Reviewing test results can help you identify concepts and methods that students are having difficulty with – questions that were missed – as well equally concepts and methods that were well understood – questions generally successfully answered. Or it may highlight well-constructed or poorly ­constructed examination question. Consider using this data to:

  • Change how yous teach the remainder of the term
  • Check for comeback on specific topics or methods over a term
  • Redesign the course or the examination for future classes
  • Appraise your teaching exercise – what is working especially well and what can be improved upon


  • Brown, Due south., Race, P., & Smith, B. (1996).
    500 tips on assessment. London, U.k.: Kogan Page.
  • Brown, S., & Smith, B. (1997).
    Getting to grips with assessment. Birmingham, UK: staff and Educational Evolution Association.
  • McKeachie, W., & Svinicki, M. (2013).McKeachie’s didactics tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (fourteenth
    . Belmont, USA: Wadsworth Publishing.
  • Worthen, B. R., Borg, W.R., & White, Thousand. R. (1993).Measurement and evaluation in the schools. New York: Longman.

CTE didactics tips

  • Exam Questions: Types, Characteristics, and Suggestions
  • Designing Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Aligning Outcomes, Assessments, and Instruction
  • Learner-Centered Cess

teaching tipsThis Artistic Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work not-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were fabricated. Use this citation format:Preparing Tests and Exams. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo

Monitoring Your Grades Will Help You Pinpoint Your Academic Weaknesses


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