Students will benefit from practice exams

William Kosinski

Many of my friends from my first-year interest group and I are taking a lower-division journalism class together this semester. While we admire the professor and the content of his class, much of the class was blindsided by his first exam. It contained multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions that were confusing for many of us. I think we, and other students at UT, would greatly benefit from a mock exam that prepares students for their professors’ tests throughout the semester.

Every professor designs their tests differently. While there are only a few different question styles, such as multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and short answer, professors have absolute discretion in the way he or she words each question. A mock exam would help students prepare at the beginning of the semester.

These tests would only be effective if they truly reflect how the professor asks questions. William Ntsoane, a freshman mechanical engineering freshman, said his physics professor gave him an example of a test earlier this semester that did not reflect the real one at all.

“It kind of defeats the purpose of the sample test,” Ntsoane said. “It really should be a suggestion of what is going to be on the actual test.” Ntsoane’s grade took a stronger hit than he expected because he was not able to anticipate the exam he received. Professors should help their students succeed by giving them the framework to most effectively prepare in the future.

It is part of a professor’s job to help their students succeed, and in some classes, that success depends greatly on exams. Exams have tremendous implications for students who need strong GPAs to transfer colleges, apply to graduate school or earn jobs. Strong knowledge of how a test will be structured, combined with proper preparation, can improve student outcomes in and beyond undergraduate school.

Indeed, a study published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest states that, “Practice testing … received high utility assessments because they benefit learners of different ages and abilities and have been shown to boost students’ performance across many criterion tasks and even in educational contexts.”

A mock test would not only allow students to retain information more effectively, but the improved performance would reflect better on professors. A study in The Journal of Economic Education reveals that higher grades are a “significant factor” in the evaluation of teachers. I certainly believe a professor would be perceived much more positively if they gave students a mock exam.

Kosinski is a journalism freshman from San Rafael, California. Follow him on Twitter @willkosinski.