This is a Test. This is Only a Test

4 Nov

Test days! The bane of students. That is what my classes have been experiencing for the past two days.

When I started teaching I thought that test days would be like mini vacations. No lecture to prepare. Get to work a few minutes before class. Hang out in the classroom and make sure no one is cheating. How wrong was I? Tests are as hard on the teacher as they are on the students.

1. We have to make out the tests. Now, teachers can adopt different strategies in this area. We can make multiple choice tests which are a pain in the ass. It requires some heavy thinking to come up with wrong answers that sound right. Of course, there are tests banks, but they only work if you follow the textbook. And textbooks are written by imbeciles.

Another option is making essay tests. Easy is an understatement. Just throw out some questions about broad topics and go with it.

Then, there is a third option. Mix it up. Create a test that uses both.

2. We have to grade the tests. This is the Bizarro World of test making. Everything is completely opposite. Multiple choice tests are easy to grade. Just fly through and check the letters.

Essay test are terrible to grade. You have to make a rubric, a device that outlines what you are looking for in each answer to ensure that everyone is graded equally. Then, you actually have to read the answers. This takes time when someone has good handwriting. It takes forever when someone can’t write. It always amazes me that people who make it all the way to college can’t write. Bad spelling. Bad grammar. No sentence structure (I know. This blog is guilty of the same things, but, hey, I’m not being graded).

Then, we have the mixed up test. Divide the work on the front-end and back-end.

This diatribe means that I was wrong about test days being a vacation. It may look easy from the peanut gallery, but it is hard work behind the scenes. No matter when the work comes it is always there. In fact, I think it is easier on the students. I know all of the answers. How hard can that be? To look at their faces it must be pretty stressful. It is strange to see how they react.

1. There is the “I don’t give a shit” student. This is the one who walks in without a pen and without any idea that a test is even going on. They ask, “What’s going on?” When they get the answer they shrug their shoulders and answer away. I promise that it pisses teachers off when they make a good grade.

2. Also, we have the “Can do no wrong” student. This is the one that has never made below an A. EVER. They analyze their notes. Ask question after question about details that don’t really matter. There is no doubt that they have written down everything I have said and have it memorized. Unfortunately, that learning style leads to quickly forgetting the material once the test is finished. We teachers would like for students to remember a few things.

3. The “Older and going back to school” student really freaks out. These people are super obsessive and can take a couple of paths. A few succeed in class and wear the teacher out to make sure they are being successful enough. Most crack under the pressure they place on themselves and mysteriously disappear.

4. The “Teachers really like you” students. These students have balance in their lives. They study but not too much. They take part in college fun but know when to buckle down. They learn without memorizing.

A lot of people think college is about learning a subject. That’s not true. College is about learning life. Learning how to work and live with other people. Learning how to organize time. Learning how to take on adult responsibilities.

I am still trying to figure out how to make a test for that.

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