Practice exams are a great way for students to engage with topics covered in study guides to better understand them prior to an exam. We asked Katie Bowman from Surry Community College and the WebAssign Content Team to share their tips and best practices for creating practice exams that help your students prepare for upcoming exams
Getting Started with Practice Exams
Study guides make great outlines for practice exams. Professor Bowman’s study guides are typically just a list of topics that the students can fill in on their own and review before the final exam. The practice exam is where students can engage in course topics by answering questions that align with their study guide.
Professor Bowman begins her practice-exam prep by going over the quizzes and tests assigned throughout the semester and choosing questions that would be most beneficial for students to review. She tries to choose questions that mimic the ones students would see on the actual test.
Throughout the test, Professor Bowman tries to incorporate an equal number of questions from each chapter. However, some sections have more questions in the practice exam depending on the number of main topics she covered. Therefore, there might be an extra question or two to reflect the extra time her class spent discussing that material.
Don’t use more than 30 questions in a single assignment for the best student learning experience. Consider creating multiple assignments if you have a lot of content to cover.
– The WebAssign Content Team
Consider Question Difficulty
Don’t forget to consider question difficulty when creating a test or a practice test. You can view this information in the question browser in WebAssign. Professor Bowman includes a good mixture of easy and challenging questions. “The easier questions help to boost student confidence while they are testing, but they also need a few more challenging questions to push them and make sure they understand the material,” she says.
Best Assignment Settings for Practice Exams
Once you’ve selected your questions, you’re ready to optimize the delivery of the practice exam to students for the best learning experience. The WebAssign Content Team recommends you customize an existing assignment template, or create a new one following these best practices:
- Set your submissions to 100 to give students plenty of time to practice and get the right answer.
- Ensure students can submit answers by each question part which will ensure they have multiple submissions for multi-part questions.
- Enable learning tools after two submissions so students have the true feeling of a test, but they get feedback and support immediately afterwards.
- Change all question point values to 0 under Question Settings (if this is truly an assignment for practice and not for a grade).
Optional or Required?
I typically make the practice test optional, but I have offered a practice quiz prior to a final exam for a grade or as extra credit. Sometimes I will ask that they complete the practice test during our lab time and then we will go over the questions together the next day.
– Katie Bowman, Mathematics Instructor, Surry Community College, NC
Midterms, finals and exams in general can be stressful. Prepare your students effectively by applying these tips to create your own practice exam in WebAssign. The best part? You can even repurpose some practice exam questions for your real exam later.
Need more exam support? Watch our recent webinar on delivering tests and preventing cheating.