The Return of the Test

A former colleague told me about returning a set of tests to her students. She watched as one after another glanced at the grade and stuffed the paper into their notebooks. She finally begged them, “It took me a long time to grade those. Please at least pretend to read my comments.”

The test may be over, but the test taking process is not. There’s one final step. Review your errors and make a plan to do better next time.

You may have some idea of this immediately after finishing the test. Perhaps you did fine on the multiple choice, but couldn’t get the true/false. Or definitions killed you.

Receiving the graded test will provide more feedback. Did you make a lot of errors because you didn’t read the questions carefully? Did you lose some points due to spelling and/or grammar mistakes?

All of this information can help you do better next time:

  • If you made lots of careless errors on the essay parts, give yourself time to proofread on the next test.
  • If you don’t do well on one type of question, make practice tests with lots of that kind of question.
  • If you see that you are weak on one of the concepts, this is a great time to make an appointment with your professor to help you. Or maybe it’s time to start going to the Learning Center to see a tutor.

For an excellent handout on how to use an old test to get information for future studying, click here.


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