Testing online? You need a practice test!

If you’re conducting tests online, there’s a whole host of reasons why you and your students can benefit from a practice test.

Here in the ELO we’re more than happy to help faculty set up their tests and other assessments online. We frequently help format midterm questions, create question categories, and set up quiz activities. But one thing we’d like to do more often is help set up practice quizzes.

So what is a practice quiz?

A practice quiz is a short quiz written by the instructor that is made up of questions to allow students to prepare for an assessment’s platform, formatting, and style without penalizing a student’s grade.

You may want to make your quiz out of some old questions, or perhaps you want to build the quiz with questions that aren’t related to your course. Either way, you should consider how you format your questions and try to provide real practice for that format. For example, if you use multiple choice questions with ‘All of the Above’ or ‘None of the Above’ you’ll want to incorporate those style of questions, likewise if you use a ‘case study’ style approach with an introductory question and series of follow-ups.

Along with the style of your question, it’s a good idea to provide some examples of the types of questions students would encounter in your course such as short answer, essay, multiple choice, matching, or some of Moodle’s new question types.

While the practice quiz doesn’t need to be nearly as long or as intensive as one of your real, summative assessments, if you have multiple page quizzes it would be good to model a quiz that is at least two pages long.

So what are the benefits to doing all this extra work?

  1. You help students learn the platform so time is spent on the assessment’s content and not the assessment’s presentation or format. It’s said that students are ‘digital natives’ or they’re entrenched in technology. Similarly to how someone who grew up in a city will develop an ‘urban literacy’, they will still need a little help finding their way around a new place. And we can provide an opportunity to make sure their first time navigating this new place isn’t while they’re running a race.
  2. Providing examples of your language conventions can help EAL students with your quizzes. While native speakers can benefit from understanding how you approach asking your questions, EAL students can gain a lot more where they have the added challenge of processing questions in a language they may still be mastering.
  3. Having a practice quiz can help diminish risks for technical issues. Here on Prince Edward Island bandwidth speed and stability can be wildly variable. Even on campus we can have spots where connections can slow or drop. By providing students with a repeatable practice quiz, you can let them run through the practice quiz to test the suitability of their connection before they begin their attempt on the real deal. 
    While it isn’t a guarantee to avoid cases where a student’s connection dropped mid-assessment it can help avoid some of those cases. If a student is able to see they’re having issues submitting the practice quiz that provides them an opportunity find another time or location to write the assessment or an opportunity to contact you to work out another solution.

If you’re interested in setting up a practice quiz and would like some help, please send us an email at elearning@upei.ca

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