Practice exams offer low or no stakes opportunities for students to assess their knowledge, in preparation for a larger-stakes assessment, like an exam. For faculty members, it offers a way to gauge student progress prior to exams and determine student strengths and weaknesses. For students, it is an excellent assessment tool to reduce anxiety and to determine what strengths and weaknesses a student needs to focus on for a REAL exam.
Practice exams can be taken anytime so there is no stress on the student to finish at a certain time. There are disadvantages and advantages to practice exams, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
- Faculty may use the same/similar test questions on the actual exams, which in turn causes students to focus more on memorization vs understanding.
- The timing of practice exams and the actual exams given to the students may affect their study habits.
- Students may feel pressured in mastering all the material on the practice exams and may not actually focus on their strengths and weaknesses on certain topics.
- In turn, (to #3) students may not retain long-term knowledge of the material forcing them to not do well on the actual exam.
- A student to master how to answer questions on an actual exam.
- A student to identify their strengths and weaknesses on a specific topic.
- Lowers test anxiety.
- Makes practice of exam problems less stressful.
“Giving the opportunity for candidates/participants to take a practice or mock version of an exam before they take the real thing has huge benefits for all stakeholders.” By John Gleesman
Studies show that faculty that implementing practice exams followed by class discussion to their students have vastly improved student grades.
“10 Reason why Practice Tests Make for Great Exams”
ETS.ORG provides an excellent tool for educators in help in the identification of test anxiety.
Practice exams really help mentally prepare a student for the actual exam and alleviate test anxiety. Educators should look into implementing practice exams for students because it not only prepares them for classroom exams but for standardized exams as well. Although, there are a few disadvantages to practice exams, the advantages offer so much more to both the students and the faculty members.