Students hate taking tests and instructors hate grading them. So why should you spend more time than necessary dealing with testing?
Many students (and at least a few instructors) might wish they could skip test-taking altogether, but the truth is that tests can be valuable indicators of a student’s progress and skills. They can also help instructors and students identify gaps in knowledge and pinpoint what still needs to be learned.
Tests are important tools that certainly won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. This means instructors who take the time to help students feel confident in their test-taking abilities will find that their students benefit in the long run.
Formative tests, which allow students to check their understanding during the learning process, help students as they begin to grasp new concepts. These kinds of tests can be as simple as an instructor asking students to answer questions about material that has just been presented in class.
On the other hand, summative tests are used to evaluate students’ mastery of content at specified endpoints. They allow students and instructors to measure the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process. For students who want to pursue careers in the automotive industry, the ASE Certification tests are necessary summative tests.
So, how can instructors begin to help students prepare for tests? Is there more to it than just studying?
Share Test-Taking Strategies
Taking tests is a skill your students have been practicing for years, but that doesn’t mean they have been practicing it correctly. Instructors should take the time to reinforce proper test-taking skills to ensure students have learned them.
Before giving students a test, remind them of the basics, such as reading questions carefully, skipping questions they don’t understand and returning later, and making educated guesses. Also be sure to stress the importance of learning to visualize concepts, especially when it comes to more complex processes and written tests.
Related Article: 4 Essential Soft Skills to Teach Your Automotive Students
Use Practice Tests
One of the best ways to prepare for something is to practice, which means students should be practicing with tests, too!
As an instructor, you can create your own practice quizzes before a test, use textbook review questions, or even download free study guides from the ASE website.
Even if you choose not to enter grades from practice quizzes in your grade book, encourage your students to work through them. You can assign these quizzes as homework and review some of the more difficult questions during class. During this review time, be sure to reinforce good test-taking skills and processes.
Look at Your Own Classroom Results
How do your students usually perform on tests? Are there any consistently negative patterns?
If you notice a general trend—such as the majority of students doing poorly on certain kinds of tests or tests with more complex material—consider whether test-taking abilities might contribute to the problem.
For example, if a test has complicated directions or oddly-phrased questions, review the importance of reading carefully and rephrasing confusing sentences during tests. Then, give students practice tests that reinforce those test-taking skills.
Reduce Classroom Stress
Anxiety over tests can be a real problem that causes otherwise bright students to underperform during exams.
Instructors might think they have no control over how worried students get over important tests, but that isn’t always true. One of the most basic steps an instructor can take is to make time to encourage and answer any questions before and after a test.
In fact, one study found that asking students to write about, review, and process their anxious thoughts surrounding a test helped some of them perform better. Feel free to encourage your students to voice any concerns.
Ask Students to be Hands-On
The most important thing students can do before a test is prepare. You can’t control how much study time a student puts in outside of class, but you can do your best to give them enough hands-on practice time in the shop.
Instead of simply demonstrating, coach students into performing tasks. The actual experience and performance of a task will help solidify processes and concepts in a way that simply studying from a book or class notes won’t do.
If you’re looking for even more ways to improve your students’ success, check out CDX’s Maintenance and Light Repair Online. This complete curriculum solution provides students with high-quality, interactive content to improve learning.