Preparing Students to Take a Test

Afza.Malik GDA

Helping Student for Test and Exam

Preparing Students to Take a Test

students for test includes educator know the purpose of test and test taking skills.

Purpose of Test    

    A teacher-made test usually measures students’ maximum performance rather than their typical performance. For this reason, teachers should create conditions under which students will be able to demonstrate their best possible performance. These conditions include adequate preparation of students to take the test (Brookhart & Nitko, 2019; Miller et al., 2013). Although this is the last point on the test-construction checklist, the teacher should begin preparing students to take the test at the time the test is scheduled. 

    Adequate preparation includes information, skills, and attitudes that will facilitate students’ maximum performance on the test.Information Needs Students need information about the test to plan for effective preparation. They need sufficient time to prepare for a test, and the date and time of a test should be announced well in advance. 

    Although many teachers believe that unannounced or “pop” tests motivate students to study more, there is no evidence to support this position. In fact, surprise (unscheduled) tests can be considered punitive or threatening and, as such, represent an unethical use of testing (Brookhart & Nitko, 2019). 

    Adult learners with multiple responsibilities may need to make adjustments to their work and family responsibilities to have adequate study time, and generous notice of a planned test date will allow them to set their priorities. 

    In addition, students need to know about the conditions under which they are to be tested, such as how much time will be allotted, whether they will have access to resources such as textbooks, how many items will be included, the types of item formats that will be used, and whether they need special tools or supplies to take the test, such as calculators, pencils, or black-ink pens (Miller et al., 2013). They also should know what items and resources they will not be able to use during the test. 

    For example, the teacher may direct students not to bring cell phones, personal digital assistants, chiming watches, watches with calculators, backpacks, briefcases, or any books or papers to the testing site. Some teachers do not allow students to wear caps or hats with brims to discourage cheating. In fact, such requirements may be good practice for prelicensure students who must observe similar restrictions for the NCLEX. 

    Of course, students also should know what content will be covered on the test,how many items will be devoted to each content area, the cognitive level at which they will be expected to perform, and the types of items to expect. As previously discussed, giving students a copy of the test blueprint and discussing it with them is an effective way for teachers to convey this information. Students should also have sufficient opportunity to practice the type of performance that will be tested. 

    For example, if students will be expected to solve medication dose calculation problems without the use of a calculator, they should practice this type of calculation in class exercises or out-of-class assignments. Students also need to know whether spelling,grammar, punctuation, or organization will be considered in scoring open-ended items so that they can prepare accordingly. 

    Finally, teachers should tell students how their test results will be used, including the weight assigned to the test score in grading (Brookhart & Nitko, 2019; Miller et al., 2013). Another way that teachers can assist students in studying for a test is to have students prepare and use a “cheat sheet.” Although this term can be expected to have negative connotations for most teachers, cheat sheets commonly are used in nursing practice in the form of memory aids or triggers such as procedure checklists, pocket guides, and reminder sheets. 

    When legitimized for use in studying and test-taking, cheat sheets capitalize on the belief that although dishonest behavior must be discouraged, the skills associated with cheating can be powerful learning tools. When students intend to cheat on a test, they usually try to guess potential test items and prepare cheat sheets with the correct answers to those anticipated items.

    Using this skill for a more honest purpose, the teacher can encourage all students to anticipate potential test items. In a test-preparation context, the teacher requires the students to develop a written cheat sheet that summarizes, prioritizes, condenses, and organizes content that they think is important and wish to remember during the test. The teacher may set parameters such as the length of the cheat sheet—for example, one side of one sheet of 81⁄2 × 11-inch paper. 

    The students bring their cheat sheets on the day of the test and may use them during the test; they submit their cheat sheets along with their test papers. Students who do not submit cheat sheets may be penalized by deducting points from their test scores or may not be permitted to take the test at all. 

    Some students may not even consult their cheat sheets during the test, but they still derive benefit from the preparation that goes into developing them. The teacher also may review the cheat sheets with students whose test scores are low to identify weaknesses in thinking that may have contributed to their errors. When used for this purpose, the cheat sheet becomes a powerful diagnostic and feedback tool.

Test-Taking Skills

    Because of an increasingly diverse population of learners in every educational setting, including growing numbers of students for whom English is a second language and whose testing experiences may be different from the teacher’s expectations, teachers should determine whether their students have adequate test-taking skills for the type of test to be given. If the students lack adequate test-taking skills, their test scores may be lower than their actual abilities. 

    Skill in taking tests sometimes is called testwiseness. To be more precise, testwiseness is the ability to use test-taking skills, clues from poorly written test items, and test-taking experience to achieve a test score that is higher than the student’s true knowledge would predict. Common errors made by item writers do allow some students to substitute testwiseness for knowledge. 

    But, in general, all students should develop adequate test-taking skills so that they are not at a disadvantage when their scores are compared with those of  more testwise individuals. Adequate test-taking skills include the following abilities (Brookhart & Nitko, 2019):

1. Reading and listening to directions and following them accurately

2. Reading test items carefully

3. Recording answers to test items accurately and neatly

4. Avoiding physical and mental fatigue by paced study and adequate rest before the test rather than late-night cram sessions supplemented by stimulants

5. Using test time wisely and working at a pace that allows for careful reflection but also permits responding to all items that the student is likely to answer correctly

6. Bypassing difficult items and returning to them later

7. Making informed guesses rather than omitting answers

8. Outlining and organizing responses to essay items before beginning to write

9. Checking answers to test items for clerical errors and changing answers if a better response is indicated Many teachers advise students not to change their answers to test items, believing that the first response usually is the correct answer and that changing responses will not increase a student’s score. 

    Research findings, however, do not support this position. Studies of answer changing and its effect on test performance have revealed that most students do change their answers to about 4% of test items and that approximately two thirds of answer changes become correct responses. As item difficulty increases, however, this payoff diminishes; consequently, more knowledge able students benefit more than less knowledgeable students from changing answers (Brookhart & Nitko, 2019).

    Students should be encouraged to change their first response to any item when they have a good reason for making the change. For example, a student who has a clearer understanding of an item after rereading it, who later recalls additional information needed to answer the item, or who receives a clue to the correct answer from another item should not hesitate to change the first answer. Improvement in test scores should not be expected, however, when students change answers without a clear rationale for making the change.

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