Preparing for a test is an activity everyone tackles differently. Some really go for it, well in advance of the date of an assessment, some keep on hesitating up till the last moment and then burst out in action. And there are those who keep on worrying when to start, how to avoid, or what precisely to do in preparing for the event. Others take in serious consideration what will bring them luck, what to wear, or which omen will forecast success. Preparing for an assessment is surrounded by all kinds of peculiar human behaviors. Simply because we do not know precisely what to expect! (1). The event of an assessment is veiled with unknowns. How hard will it be, how many question items, on what subjects in particular, and so forth. Of course as a student you have learned the topic, it was covered in the program, and assignment were rehearsed more than once, but still a full demonstration of your actual mastery level at the ‘moment supreme’ is hampered by indefinites. Would it help when students would know in advance much more about the circumstances of the event? For instance, can they ask for clarification in case of unclear test items; can they indicate confidence in their answer of an item; are they allowed to rephrase the question as they understand it; can they add items showing their excellence: “I also know about….” ?
Let’s be fair: an assessment is about showing ability – why not let the student in on how to show it? It cannot hurt to open our minds on how we capture attainments.
An article explored possible ways of assisting the learner in taking tests. The author took different perspectives originating from several disciplines. Optimal foraging theory stemming from ethology points to the issue of providing the learner with sufficient cues and resources to give an answer to a test item. Marginal value theory from economics would suggest the student not to overstay or dwell on one question too long. Prospect theory from decision management would be important in determining how well a learner plans an answer given what one knows, thinks one knows and actually writes down.
Assessments are not an assessors’ playground. It is an arrangement to demonstrate what is attained and what not – by the student. So why not arrange for the student to do his or her utmost? (2) It probably starts with having an open mind for the, in itself quite unnatural, environment we have created for our students to give their utmost, and begin by answering queries like: would it help, for instance, to vary on self-selected difficulty levels; to provide aid or support in case of mix-ups; to give hints on planning an answer? An advice of an examiner at the start of a test like ”sit, think, and write” could then be transformed into “ bring your stuff, ask for help, and go for it”
W. Brian Whalley (2016) Evaluating student assessments: the use of optimal foraging theory, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41:2, 183-198link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2014.991909