September 9, 2020
The traditional teaching techniques such as lack of inter-activeness in the classroom and intimidating students with exams are no longer acceptable. Educational institutions and teachers are giving their best to identify methods that will enhance students’ learning and improve their exam results. One of these methods is practice tests.
Practice tests are considered to be an effective path to better grades. According to an article, “the influence of practice testing on learning is one of the most well-established effects in all of cognitive psychology.” To support that theory, we will present several notable reasons that present how practice tests help make perfect exams.
The reason why students perform better on exams when they take practice tests is that the element of the unknown is eliminated. Practice tests give instructors a chance to define students’ strengths and weaknesses. Based on that, they can do their best to work on them and perfect them before the exam.
Margaret K. Snooks shares in her article Using Practice Tests on a Regular Basis to Improve Student Learning that better grades are directly correlated with practice tests. She noted that “Class records over three years show that practice tests improve students’ grades. The more practice tests taken, the more likely students are to earn higher course grades.”
When students realize where they make the most mistakes, they will focus on improving that and build more confidence for the exam. Practice tests serve as a trial before the real deal. Therefore, students won’t be anxious and stressed. Once the time for the exam comes, they will be more certain in their knowledge. That certainty comes from filling in the gaps that they identified during practice tests.
Additionally, students will have a more positive attitude to practice tests as it is a learning technique, not a real exam. The familiarity of the material will boost the students’ confidence. Since they’ve completed similar question structures they will be more self-assured.
By monitoring, evaluating, and reacting correspondingly to their performance on the practice test, students can build their motivation for the exam. They can also set goal intention according to their practice test results. In the book, Learning, Remembering, Believing: Enhancing Human Performance there is a great schematic representation of Kanfer’s and Bandura’s ideas of motivation that can be applied to this.
Exams like SAT, Common Core-aligned assessments, and ACT demand that students cover a large amount of material. Not being able to assess how successful their studying habits are can negatively impact their performance. Practice tests enable students to identify their level of knowledge. They might notice that there are weak areas in their learning that they haven’t recognized before.
Students will be more productive when they know what they need to practice to get satisfactory results. They won’t have to waste time on areas they’ve mastered since the practice test will directly signify the weak areas. Kristin Savage an editor at ClassyEssay writing service explains “Practice tests have always been my favorite learning technique. It’s easier to spot the topics you need to cover some more when you have a practice test to point it out for you.”
With practice tests, students will no longer see a teacher as an obstacle to good grades. The teacher will take a role as a guide and advisor. Consequently, the student-teacher relationship will improve.
After the practice test, the teacher can take time to address any issues that students might have. Students can also directly ask the teacher if they are having trouble understanding certain material. This collaboration will change the students’ perspective of teachers. The class will become more oriented towards learning rather than grading.
A Review of Educational Research analysis of 46 studies found that strong teacher-student relationships were associated (both the short- and long-term) with improvements on every relevant measure:
Higher student academic engagement
Fewer disruptive behaviors and suspensions
Lower school dropout rates
Practice exams give students a chance to recall what they have learned. The more they practice the better their results will be.
Katherine A Rawson published an article for Educational Psychology Review that supports these claims. The impact of regular recalling was notable. It was also evident that more recalls provide better performance.
In the article, she also proved the benefits of an increased number of relearning sessions. Rawson shared the results that showed the following:
Completing three versus one relearning session produced a 60 % relative increase in performance on the 1-month test.
Completing five versus one relearning sessions produced an 86 % relative increase on the 1-month test and a 64 % increase on the 4-month test.
The results of practice tests can signal teachers which lessons have students’ masters and which topics demand more explaining. If most students from the class perform poorly in a certain aspect of the test, teachers can dedicate another lesson to explain that furthermore.
Another good use of feedback from practice tests is dedicating attention to individual students. It will be easier for teachers to help some individuals to perform better on exams if they know how to help them. For example, teachers can give those students extra material to practice at home.
A typical standardized test can take hours to complete. The lack of frequency of testing can make this extremely hard for students. Their concentration level will drop notably as they aren’t used to keeping their focus for such a long time.
The Educational Testing Service shared that, “The more you are accustomed to sitting for a period of time, answering test questions, and pacing yourself, the more comfortable you will feel when you actually sit down to take the test.” Regular practice in the form of practice tests will help students to build their stamina. Their exam endurance will increase which will make the real exam less exhausting.
Students’ performance along with their overall perception of exams can be improved with practice tests. This effective learning method can help students excel in their academic achievements. It can also help them become better learners and create a winning learning strategy. Overall, practice tests are a tool that both students and teachers can benefit from.
This article is written by Diana Nadim Adjadj. She is a Freelance Writer. You can find her here
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