Paper-based to paperless practice tests

Community Champion

If we want our students to be well-prepared for an assessment, the way that we practice in class should closely mirror the format of the test itself.

Why, then, are we still using paper review sheets?

Don't get me wrong: there are some students who prefer traditional review sheets and—Canvas notwithstanding—there is still power in paper. However, in the area of immediate feedback, electronic still outshines its paper-based counterpart. Even when provided with an answer sheet, students may hurriedly scan their own work and fail to notice spelling errors or other nuances.

Since I am a World Language teacher, it's important that my students' spelling is accurate. Canvas is great for creating reviews for each chapter exam. I simply import a copy of my own exam and quickly alter each question so that it's similar, but not identical. Some questions from the test get deleted entirely, while for others I will create extra, similar questions if it's challenging.

Lastly, I allow students to see both their answers and the correct answer(s) and I give them loads of extra attempts.

Does it work? It does. Just today, a one of my students proudly announced that he'd gotten a 57 on the 60-point test they'd just completed. Since that student struggles a little, the boy next to him raised his eyebrows and scoffed, "How'd you get that good of a grade?" The bearer of the A told everyone his secret: "I took that practice test like ten times!"

Of course, not everyone will take a practice test unless you make it mandatory. Even then, there will still be those who choose not to; my students can do a practice multiple times but generally only do it once or twice. It's a great feeling, though, when a "lagging" student does it ten times and gets an A!