Offer students opportunity to take practice exams

Thasin Kamal, Columnist

Exams are a big deal. They are weighed more than other assessments and are meant to show professors how well students understand material taught in class. Yet students are often unsure of what their best study route is when it comes to preparing for exams. As such, these exams often generate excess stress and anxiety. 

Students need to feel prepared for exams as much as possible, and allowing students to take practice exams can be beneficial in further preparing them. Professors should offer students the opportunity to take practice exams before the actual exams. 

Practice exams can help students become familiar with the actual exams — the formatting, the content that will be tested, how frequently it will appear, the way it will be tested and how long it will last. They give students an idea of how much time they should spend studying certain content and what they should prioritize. They test knowledge and help students pinpoint where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Students can determine what to focus on based on questions they get wrong on the practice exams, which will help them perform better in those areas on the actual exams.  

Deyanira Hernandez, a human dimensions of organizations sophomore, shared her experience taking a practice exam prior to taking her Spanish exam. 

“Seeing how the format’s going to be and seeing what exactly it’s going to look like, it kind of just like, eased my anxiety. I didn’t worry about if I had enough time. I didn’t because I already knew what to expect. So it was really nice. I wasn’t anxious going into this exam at all.” Hernandez said.

Hernandez performed well on her exam and did not think that would be the case if she hadn’t  taken the practice exam. 

Students tend to worry about upcoming exams due to their uncertainty. Since practice exams are similar to actual exams, taking them can ease that anxiety because students would know exactly what to expect; they would not have to anticipate any surprises.  

Richard Ardila, assistant instructor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, explained the importance of practice testing. 

“If you’re only reading, let’s say, the PowerPoints or the grammar explanations, it’s not really helpful if you’re not putting it to the test, putting these skills to the test,” Ardila said.

Reading textbooks and going over notes can be beneficial, but applying the knowledge acquired to scenarios and examples in exams has been shown to help with retaining information better.    

Ardila also said that students perform better on the exams for his class when they attempt the practice exams. 

It is not difficult to offer students the opportunity to take practice exams, especially since they are similar to the actual exams. Professors can add a practice exam on Canvas for each actual exam, and students can take them at their own convenience. 

To optimize their use, practice exams should not be graded or mandatory. And though practice exams should be available for all students, they should have the choice on whether or not to take them. 

Professors must start offering students the chance to take practice exams prior to completing actual exams, as they can ease stress and anxiety and help students feel more confident and secure in their abilities. 

Kamal is an international relations and global studies and economics sophomore from Irving, Texas.