Semester Tests

In my school, students are given a two hour block of time to take tests in each class period.  They can not leave, unless it’s the last test of the day, and then they can leave after an hour.  So, for the most part, I have to keep the students in my room quiet and busy.  This tends to make me want to design semester tests that will keep students occupied for about 90 minutes.  In the past, I’ve done a pretty good job at that.  Students walk out of my tests feeling drained.   Which really isn’t fair to them because they usually take three of these tests per day.

However, this year, I’m trying to do more of an authentic test.  No more memory work.  No more simply regurgitation plot descriptions and character matching from previous stories.  Instead, they must read stories during the test time and then answer questions about comprehension and actually understanding literary terms like character, setting, plot, etc…  How long will this take students to do?  For that matter, what length should the readings be?

Right now, I have one longer full length short story and four stories of less than a page each.  Each of these has a series of questions attached to them to test the comprehension and synthesis of information.  There will be an essay question following the longer story.  I haven’t decided how to include grammar, other than to grade their grammar use in the essay.  Perhaps, I could write up another passage with possible grammar errors throughout and the students will have to choose the correct usage in certain sentences, much like is done in the ACT.

I have until Thursday to decide…

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.



  1. January 11, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Uhg, I hated those tests when I was in school, but because they were harder and more challenging. They were usually good tests, but every once in a while I would feel cheated by one of them when my answer did not exactly correspond to what the teacher was looking for as an answer.

    For example: ” “The sisters” is not correct. Only Joycelyn and Samatha went on the trip. Claudia the narrator remained at the manor house.”

    Well, yes, but Claudia was the narrator. From her perspective it was just “the sisters” that took the trip. Yarg!

  2. renaissanceguy said,

    January 15, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Your testing procedure sounds both fair and, as you say, authentic. It matches the format of many standardized tests, which gives the students good practice. Good for you!

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