Post-Test Reflection

After marking a test or exam, it is good to ask some reflective questions, and not simply take the marks as an objective measure of the students’ abilities. Data analysis is useful but it needs to lead to reflection.



How well did you teach the material?

Poor performance by the students could be an indication that you did not manage to engage them effectively and facilitate their understanding. Take the time now to make a note of topics that you will need to approach differently next year.

How fair was the exam?

Poor performance could be an indication that your questions were asked in such a way as to make it difficult to link to what was taught.
Specific questions could have been badly phrased, leading to misunderstanding.

How well are the marks spread out?

If the students all tended to get close to the average, maybe the questions were all asking for the same kind of skill or knowledge. There is no point in asking the same question 20 times! The different questions at least need to really require different levels of understanding. The mark allocation needs to be able to reward good answers to difficult questions.

Does the mark allocation leave space to manoeuvre? (eg marking a question out of 3 is difficult - 3/3 is 100%, 1/3 is only 33%, so 2/3 is safe). 

If the marks are all very high….

It’s probably because you are a brilliant teacher, but do consider:

  • is the rubric too vague? 
  • are there enough searching questions?
  • was the scope too narrow?
  • did you prepare the students for the exam too specifically or for a test of whether they can apply their knowledge?
  • if an answer really is incorrect, it should not get any marks.

If the marks are all very low...

It’s probably not because you are a terrible teacher, but do consider:

  • are you being unnecessarily “tough”, not giving any benefit of the doubt and/or insisting on a very specific answer? a definition which is in the student’s own words, even if not perfectly correct, is probably a better indication of understanding than a word-perfect memorised one;
  • sometimes it helps to read aloud an answer to really hear what a student is trying to say, especially if they battle with spelling (the exam is not a spelling test!);
  • are you giving marks for a correct method or approach even if there is an error which leads to a wrong answer?
  • is there a set of questions which are all dependent on getting the first one correct?

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