Time to Tune Your Tests

test-computer-key-in-blue-showing-quiz-or-online-questionnaire_fydJNNDuYou’ve administered your final exam. Your students have finished their practical and are off to schedule their NREMT exams. This is the part of the semester when you can take a breath and look back on your class.

When we look back on a semester, we often concentrate on content areas, flow, skills, and exam scores. We don’t always look back on our quizzes and exams themselves. Here are a few things you can do to improve your testing before next semester starts:

  1. Make sure you test comprehensively. All too often we wonder why our students don’t seem to be learning or engaging in class. It may be because they don’t need to. If your exams don’t test material in significant depth, the students won’t need to study and learn as much. To put it another way: If you test superficially, your students will learn superficially; if you test comprehensively, your students will learn comprehensively.
  2. Test frequently. Building on the first point, you should also quiz and test more, rather than less, frequently. Students will be better prepared and will remain that way when they know you will be testing them frequently.
  3. Test at higher cognitive levels. Recall questions have a place at the beginning of a course or lesson, as in early quizzes that test recall from reading and lectures. But if your questions stay at the recall level, your students won’t integrate the material. They will also be ill prepared for the NREMT exam. Although it’s tougher to create questions at higher cognitive levels, it’s worth the effort. By the time students have read the material, learned in class, and had a skills session, they should be ready to apply and integrate concepts into challenging questions.
  4. Tighten your distractors. Besides asking tougher questions, this is another way we can make our exams more challenging—and more like the NREMT. The less wiggle room between the correct answer and the distractors, the more challenging the question. Such questions can be difficult to write. I usually recommend having other educators proofread them before you integrate them into your exams, because this helps identify ambiguities or other issues you may not have anticipated.
  5. Use a “best answer” format. We usually ask questions that have a clearly correct answer. The NREMT exam doesn’t work that way. Sometimes the student has to choose among four answers that all look right or all look wrong. Not only will a “best answer” format help to prepare students for the Registry exam—it also more closely resembles the street, where sometimes we don’t get the choices we want either.

Use the down time between semesters or courses to look at some of the exams you have been using for a while. You might also use the time to develop an extra quiz or two so you can increase both your test frequency and the difficulty level of your questions.

Limmer Creative apps can be part of your comprehensive testing strategy. Our Using Apps in the Classroom flyer will show you how. Contact us for a live demo of our high quality exam prep and study apps.