How To Prepare For the Test?

One question that students love to ask and that is pure torture for my professorial soul is “How should I prepare for the test?”

In a course that is run the way it should be, if I do my job right and the students do theirs, there is no need to prepare for the test. My goal is not to get my students to memorize information for the purposes of reproducing it for the exam or the mini-quiz. This is a completely useless exercise that defeats the entire purpose of higher education which should be to teach students to think for themselves.

Today, we have a test in one of my courses. The test will provide students with excerpts from texts we read  and discussed and they will have to analyze them. That’s it. No memorization, cramming or regurgitation of anything will be involved.

Students who are unafraid of thinking and expressing their opinions will breeze through the test. Those, however, who want “correct answers” provided for them beforehand will not have a good time.

On Friday, when I was explaining the format of this test and mentioned that the students would have to provide their analysis of the texts, one student asked, “Will it be multiple choice?”

I would really like to know the name of the enemy of humanity who invented this nasty multiple-choice obsession and how it is possible that people think the words ‘analysis’ and ‘multiple choice’ belong together.

10 thoughts on “How To Prepare For the Test?

  1. Do you give the excerpts beforehand? This may help. I always give my students excerpts to analyze and question to answer one week before the exam. They can think about their answers, structure them, and offer more profound analysis. Then, on exam day, I pick, say, 5 out of 10 questions, “ramdomly.” This method rarely failed me.

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  2. Why do you use multiple choice polls, if you so despise multiple choice tests. (I also despise them; I have used them perhaps half a dozen times in 45 years of teaching, when required by the format of a multi-section course, and I have never felt that they were a good way to evaluate students’ work.)

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    1. Because I don’t have a choice! 🙂

      It’s funny but at my university, they’ve been trying to push clickers on me which allow you to conduct polling in class. I’m resisting with the utmost indignation. 🙂 But blogging is different. I allow different parts of my persona to come out here. Believe it or not, but I’m the post patient, laid-back and kind person imaginable with my students. 🙂

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  3. I actually like “How should I prepare for the test” as a question, much more than “what’s going to be on the test?” –seems much more respectful, and less of a “gimme.”

    And I love the kinds of tests where if you showed up and paid attention and can think, you won’t have much to do…

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  4. On Friday, when I was explaining the format of this test and mentioned that the students would have to provide their analysis of the texts, one student asked, “Will it be multiple choice?”

    I would really like to know the name of the enemy of humanity who invented this nasty multiple-choice obsession and how it is possible that people think the words ‘analysis’ and ‘multiple choice’ belong together.

    😀 HA HA HA !!! Sorry, but that made my day !!

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