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Discussion Club Intermediate: Tests


Many teachers dislike preparing and grading exams, and most students dread taking them. Yet tests are powerful educational tools that serve at least four functions. First, tests help you evaluate students and assess whether they are learning what you are expecting them to learn. Second, well-designed tests serve to motivate and help students structure their academic efforts.

chickenmultipleMultiple-choice tests. Multiple-choice items can be used to measure both simple knowledge and complex concepts. Simple multiple-choice questions can be answered quickly, you can assess students’ mastery of many topics on an hour exam. In addition, the items can be easily and reliably scored.
True-false tests. Because random guessing will produce the correct answer half the time, true-false tests are less reliable than other types of exams. However, these items are appropriate for occasional use. Some faculty who use true-false questions and an ‘explain’ column in which students write one or two sentences justifying their response.
Matching tests. The matching format is an effective way to test students’ recognition of the relationships between words and definitions, events and dates, categories and examples, and so on.
Essay tests. Essay tests enable you to judge students’ abilities to organize, integrate, interpret material, and express themselves in their own words. Research indicates that students study more efficiently for essay-type examinations than for selection (multiple-choice) tests: students preparing for essay tests focus on broad issues, general concepts, and interrelationships rather than on specific details, and this studying results in somewhat better student performance regardless of the type of exam they are given. Essay tests also to give you an opportunity to comment on students’ progress, the quality of their thinking, the depth of their understanding, and the difficulties they may be having.
One faculty member prepares a test that requires students to correct, expand, or refute mock essays. Two weeks before the exam date, he distributes ten to twelve essay questions, which he discusses with students in class. For the actual exam, he selects four of the questions and prepares well-written but intellectually flawed answers for the students to edit, correct, expand, and refute. The mock essays contain common misunderstandings, correct but incomplete responses, or absurd notions; in some cases the answer has only one or two flaws. He reports that students seem to enjoy this type of test more than traditional examinations.
Short-answer tests. Depending on your objectives, short-answer questions can call for one or two sentences or a long paragraph. Short-answer tests are easier to write, though they take longer to score, than multiple-choice tests.
Problem sets. In courses in mathematics and the sciences, your tests can include problem sets. As a rule of thumb, allow students ten minutes to solve a problem you can do in two minutes.
Oral exams. Though common at the graduate level, oral exams are rarely used for undergraduates except in foreign language classes. In other classes they are usually time-consuming, too anxiety provoking for students, and difficult to score unless the instructor tape-records the answers. However, a math professor has experimented with individual thirty-minute oral tests in a small seminar class. Students receive the questions in advance and are allowed to drop one of their choosing. During the oral exam, the professor probes students’ level of understanding of the theory and principles behind the theorems. He reports that about eight students per day can be tested.
Performance tests. Performance tests ask students to demonstrate proficiency in conducting an experiment, executing a series of steps in a reasonable amount of time, following instructions, creating drawings, manipulating materials or equipment, or reacting to real or simulated situations. Performance tests can be administered individually or in groups.
‘Create-a-game’ exams. For one midterm, ask students to create either a board game, word game, or trivia game that covers the range of information relevant to your course. Students must include the rules, game board, game pieces, and whatever else is needed to play.
Take-home tests. Take-home tests allow students to work at their own place with access of books and materials. Take-home tests also permit longer and more involved questions, without sacrificing valuable class time for exams. Problem sets, short answers, and essays are the most appropriate kinds of take-home exams. Be wary, though, of designing a take-home exam that is too difficult or an exam that does not include limits on the number of words or time spent.
Open-book tests. Open-book tests stimulate professionals face every day, when they resources to solve problems, prepare reports, or write memos. Open-book tests tend to be inappropriate to introductory courses in which facts must be learned or skills thoroughly mastered if the student is to progress to more complicated concepts and techniques in advanced courses. On an open-book test, students who are lacking basic knowledge may waste too much of their time consulting their references rather than writing. Open-book tests appear to reduce stress.
Group exams. Some faculty have successfully experimented with group exams, either in class or as take-home projects. Faculty report that groups outperform individuals and that students respond positively to group exams.
Paired tests. For paired exams, pairs of students work on a single essay exam, and the two students turn in one paper. Pairs can be self-selected or assigned. For example, pairing a student who is doing well in the course with one not doing well allows for some peer teaching.
Portfolios. A portfolio is not a specific test but rather a cumulative collection of a student’s work. Students decide what examples to include that characterize their growth and accomplishment over the term. While most common in composition classes, portfolios are beginning to be used in other disciplines to provide a fuller picture of students’ achievements. A student’s portfolio might include sample papers (first drafts and revisions), journal entries, essay exams, and other work representative of the student’s progress.

I. Supply the missing prepositions

1. A good education should, among other things, train you to think ___ yourself.

2. Susan never stays ______ classes, but yesterday ___ some reason or other she missed a lecture ___History.

3. If you try to remain right ___schedule, then any mishap or misjudgment will cause you to fall ___ – perhaps right ___the deadline, when no recovery is possible.

4. If a child doesn’t want to set ___ learning nobody can force him ___ doing it.

5. Doris had a good command ___ English but as she was ___ extreme pressure she failed___the last exam.

II. Give English equivalents to the following words and phrases

1. to estimate


2. to miss classes


3. an aptitude


4. to help-


5. to encourage


III. Translate from Russian into English

  1. Сопоставительный вид тестирования является эффективным способом проверки умения студентов распознавать взаимосвязи между словами и определениями, датами и событиями, категориями и примерами.
  2. Многие учителя не любят готовиться к экзаменам и проводить их, а большинство студентов боятся их сдавать.
  3. Сочинения дают вам возможность проверить умения студентов понимать материал, а также выражать свою собственную точку зрения.
  4. В некоторых классах устные экзамены занимают обычно много времени, а также вызывают стресс у самих студентов.
  5. Пары могут быть добровольными или назначенными.
  6. Тесты помогают нам оценивать студентов и проверять, учат ли они то, что нужно.
  7. Выборные тесты могут быть использованы как для проверки элементарных знаний, так и сложных представлений.
  8. На математическом курсе ваши тесты могут включать в себя наборы задач.
  9. Экзамены с возможностью воспользоваться учебниками появились для снижения стресса у студентов.
  10. Объяснительная колонка нужна для того, чтоб студент аргументировал свой ответ.