How to Avoid Negative Effects of Tests on Students

Some educators argue against using tests saying that students study for tests only at the end of the semester or when the school year is about to finish while not work throughout the course and once the test has finished, students forget all that had been learned. Others added that students become focused on passing tests rather than learning to improve their skills. All these arguments don’t justify eliminating tests at all because there are many reasons and much importance for testing.

Reasons for Testing

  • A test can give the teacher valuable information about where the students are in their learning.
  • A test can affect what the teacher will cover next.
  • Tests help teachers to decide if their teaching has been effective and help to highlight what needs to be reviewed.
  • Testing can be as much an assessment of the teaching as the learning.
  • Tests can give students a sense of accomplishment as well as information about what they know and what they need to review.
  • Tests can be extremely motivating and give students a sense of progress.
  • Tests can highlight areas for students to work on and tell them what has and hasn’t been effective in their learning.
  • Tests can also have a positive effect in that they encourage students to review material covered on the course.
  • Tests can encourage students to consolidate and extend their knowledge.
  • Tests are also a learning opportunity after they have been taken.
  • The feedback after a test can be invaluable in helping students to understand something they couldn’t do during the test. Thus, the test is a review in itself.

Making Testing More Productive

It is very important to bear in mind the negative aspects the arguments mentioned and try to minimize the negative effects. We can do the following to make testing more productive.

  • Make the test a less intimidating experience by explaining to the students the purpose of the test and focus on the positive effects it will have.
  • Give the students plenty of notice and teach some revision classes beforehand.
  • Tell the students that you will take into account their work on the course as well as the test result.
  • When you hand out the results, go through the answers fairly quickly, highlight any specific areas of difficulty and give the students their results on slips of paper.
  • Emphasize that a student should compare their results with their own previous scores, not with others in the class. 

Learning From Tests

Finally, it is very important to remember that tests also give teachers valuable information on how to improve the process of evaluation.

Ask students some questions to evaluate the test. e.g.

  • “Were the instructions clear?” “
  • Do the test items cover what that been taught?
  • “Did I manage to create a non-threatening atmosphere?”

These questions and others may be added help the teacher to avoid any pitfalls next time.

Using Alternatives to Testing

There are other alternatives that can be used instead of or alongside tests.

  • Continuous Assessment

Teachers give grades for a number of assignments over a period of time. A final grade is decided on a combination of assignments.

  • Portfolio

A student collects a number of assignments and projects and presents them in a file. The file is then used as a basis for evaluation.

  • Self-assessment

The students evaluate themselves. The criteria must be carefully decided upon beforehand.

  • Classroom Work Assessment

The teacher gives an assessment of the learner for work done throughout the course including classroom contributions.

In Short

Tests should not be the only criteria for assessment, but that they are one of many tools that we can use. I feel that choosing a combination of methods of assessment is the fairest and most logical approach.

But tests still have an important function for both students and teachers. By trying to limit the negative effects of tests we can try to ensure that they are as effective as possible. One important thing to be done to limit the negative effects of tests is writing effective test items.


Announcement! I’ve Launched a New eBook.

 For over 20 years, I’ve developed, contributed to creating and administered school tests. And in that time, I’ve noticed one thing popping up again and again: As a teacher and a test builder, it’s really hard to write effective test items.

With this challenge in mind, I’m really excited to announce the launch of “Writing Effective Test Questions: The Definitive Guide”

What is This Guide?

Designed with how to create effective test items in mind, this definitive guide gives the teachers step-by-step instructions they need to go deeper, further and faster toward making a success in preparing effective classroom exams with ease and comfort.

With the help of valuable guidelines included in this guide, teachers will be able to avoid any pitfalls in the testing of their students.

This guide is a valuable resource for any teacher interested in constructing test items that can capture effectively what a student knows.

It is the comprehensive guide that I personally wish someone would have shared with me when I first started to make classroom tests for my students.

So How Much Does It Cost?

To spread the benefit out to as many teachers as possible, I offer this definitive guide for the lowest price. It costs only $ 1.99

So, if you want to establish the technical quality of your test, write effective test items and avoid any pitfalls in making tests, why not head down to get Writing Effective Test Questions: The Definitive Guide” and find out how much benefit you will get for the lowest cost.

It is only $ 1.99! You will lose nothing comparing to the most benefit you will get. 

Thanks for Reading

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