Student Success Strategy #4: Write Your Own Test

My students are master test-takers.  The curriculum for my class, Strategies for Success, includes studying the best ways to approach each type of question.

On true-false questions, they look for extremes, which are usually false.  On multiple choice, they know to eliminate the obviously wrong answers before considering those that might be correct.  And on matching, they know to ask whether the question is a one-to-one match, or whether some answers could be used again, or not at all.

Their best tool, however, is to write the test themselves.

After showing them how tests are constructed, I use class time to have them work in small groups to write several questions with answers on each chapter, some in each format.  As they are reading the material and discussing it, their brains are processing the information, not just memorizing it.

When they have their questions and answers written, we test their questions on the other groups to be sure all answers are correct.  They listen closely to be sure their group can claim the best written questions.

All questions are then handed in, and I choose from the student’s work, usually adding only a few of my own to the official test.

Student scores on these tests have increased by 30%.

Student Success Strategy #4:  Write your own test.  Instead of simply reading the material, look for points that can be formed into questions, develop the questions, and determine the best answers.  You have just become the teacher, and teaching is the most effective method of learning.

My students no longer read chapters without a focus on possible test questions.  They don’t find themselves reading a paragraph for the third time without knowing what it says.  They don’t pull an all-nighter to read and reread their material, yet they know it.  [I’m sure some still do, but they are better prepared than those who have trained their eyes to move across the page without seeing].

This technique works in any class, and I ask my students to try it for their next test or quiz to prove how well it works.  Whether they form study groups or work individually, I’ve seen grades improve and confidence build.

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