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Tests and Quizzes:
Help Students Learn to Love 'Em

(Okay, maybe just not hate them!)

tests, quizzes, study, homework

Students may dread them, but tests and quizzes are here to stay. In fact, our children are being tested now more than ever. As far as I am concerned, our society is suffering from an acute case of Testing Madness. We constantly assess (test) our students.

For some reason, politicians think that the only way to verify that learning is taking place is to test, test, test. As a teacher, when administrators insist that I test, test, test I feel as though they doubt my abilities. It is like they are saying, "Teacher, you say that Timmy can read this book? Well, we're not sure about that, so just to be certain, give him a comprehension test every week and a fluency test every few chapters!"

We don't trust teachers to teach, or student to learn. The worst part of Testing Madness is how much our kids are suffering. The poor things are tested so often that it sometimes feels that testing is the only thing they do in school.

It is no wonder that many students stop taking tests and quizzes seriously. I've seen them just give up and write down anything, just to finish. So, all of this testing doesn't adequately reflect what our children know!

Over-testing also takes the fun out of learning. When I was in the 7th grade, our class read The Last of the Mohicans. My teacher went pop quiz crazy and gave us a surprise chapter quiz two or three times a week.

I remember telling her, "This was a good book, but I couldn't read it and enjoy it. All I did was worry, "Is this gonna be on the test? It took all the fun out of it." My teacher did seem sorry- but it didn't stop all those horrible tests and quizzes.

She wanted to force students to do the assigned reading, but it didn't work. The same kids that would have read done the reading anyway (like me), did the reading. The students that could not have been forced to do the reading under penalty of death, didn't start reading simply because the teacher was giving pop quizzes. The latter group also had little or nothing to add to the class reading discussions.

When they are well-designed, thoughtful and given in moderation, tests and quizzes can be quite valuable for educators, students and parents. Tests and quizzes provide feedback for educators and students: teachers discover what their students know and whether or not their teaching has been effective, and students discover what they know (and do not know) about a particular subject.

The problem is that most tests and quizzes are NOT well-designed, thoughtful or given in moderation.

Oh, well, whatcha gonna do? We can't totally outlaw tests, nor should we want to. Maybe one day politicians and administrators will strike a balance between trusting teachers and assessing students, but until that day arrives, parents will have to help their children put tests and quizzes in the proper perspective.

We must constantly try to strike a balance between letting our children know that tests ARE important for grades, acceptance to schools, scholarships, jobs, promotions, etc. and tests are NOT important because what kind of person you are cannot be measured by grades, schools, etc. I never said it would be easy!

Let your kids know that you love them- no matter what grades they bring home. Who they are on inside is what matters to you, and tests and quizzes don't show that. The problem is, not everybody will be so understanding! We must live in the "real," outside world. And, in the real world, it's testing, testing, testing. So, they might as well learn how to do well on those tests!

Teach your children that doing well on tests and quizzes is like a game, but unlike a silly, video game, learning how to do well on tests is a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.

Take a look a this table and share it with your kids. Find out what types of tests and test questions they get most often and help them master those first. Then, move onto to the other types of test and questions.

Pretty soon, there won't be a test they can't conquer!

A great place to experience some testing success is with Spelling Tests!

Types of Tests and Questions




Multiple Choice

(test or question)

- choose a provided answer


What color was the car? (choose one)

a) blue b) green c) red


(test or question)

- students answer questions by writing long or short answers

Compare and contrast the college experiences of Danielle and Daniel.

Short Answer

(test or question)

- questions answered in 3 to 5 sentences (one paragraph)

Why did the teacher give Daniel a make-up test?

Long Answer

(test or question)

- questions answered in more than one paragraph

Compare and contrast the college experiences of Danielle and Daniel.

True or False

(test or question)

- student answer questions either true or false

- easy to be tricked

The protagonist left the party at midnight. (check one)

____True  ___False


(test or question)

- common on math and science tests and quizzes

1. If x =24, then x + 16 =_?


2. What happens when you add baking soda and nail polish?


(test or question)

- similar to multiple choice tests, questions

- students match words w/ definitions

Draw a line between the matching English and Spanish words:

la casa                    work

el trabajo               house

Standardized Test

“An examination given to a large group of students to gauge performance against either a national average (called norm-referenced) or a breadth of subject material (called criterion-referenced).” Taken directly from www.catalyst-chicago.org/arch/09-00/0900glossary.htm

- most often short answer and multiple choice questions

- sometimes short essay questions scored by evaluators


Oral Test

- students answer questions orally, in a conversation with the teacher

“Explain the issues that George Washington faced in preparing for the Battle of Trenton.”

Create-A-Game Test

- students create a game or project

Design a Battle of Trenton board game. Create and include: game board, rules, game pieces, etc. Game must display your knowledge & expertise of the Battle of Trenton.

Create-An-Art Project Test

-students draw, design, create an art project

Using a shoe box, create a life-like replica of a typical 19th century Maidu Indian village. Include people, housing, cooking utensils, work materials, toys, plants, and animals.

Create-A-Performance Test

- students create and perform a play, dance 

Imagine a conversation between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi in which they discuss non-violence. Write and perform this conversation with a partner.

Take Home Test

- students complete test at home

- usually more difficult than tests taken in class


Open Book Test

- students allowed access to approved materials during test


Online test

- students take test on computer, online

-  increasingly popular

- questions tend to be multiple choice, short answer, true and false

- Log on to the class website

- Go to ‘assessments’

- Choose Test # 2

- Answer all questions

- Click ‘submit’

- You score will be emailed to you



- short test

- usually worth less points than a test

1. What year did the girl go to college? ____


2. The dog bit the mailman. (check one)

____True  ___False


3. See short answer question…

Pop Quiz


- quiz you didn’t know was coming.



Tips to Share with Students About Tests and Quizzes:

  • Read the entire test and each set of directions before you start.
  • Start with the easiest questions first and return to the others (don't forget to go back!)
  • Read all answer choices for each multiple choice questions. Many times, the right one is the last one!
  • Look for trick questions.
  • Try not to guess, but if you must- go with your gut instinct.
  • Take your time.
  • Check your work.
  • Do your best, turn it in and move on!

If you treat test-taking as a game and a skill, your kids will see it that way, too! That is, if their parents are positive, understanding, relaxed and helpful.

Of course you are!

More Homework Peace

Deal with test anxiety to help put tests and quizzes into perspective!

Teach your children how to study

What do do when your child's math homework is too hard- for you!