Jump to content


Reviewing with a student without "teaching the test"

Recommended Posts

How do you review material with your student without essentially teaching them the test?


I'm having ds read a textbook along with an online science program. He outlines/takes notes as he reads, but he isn't catching all the finer details that are on the quizzes and tests that go with the textbook. I feel guilty to just give him the information he needs to know, but I also feel that I'm the teacher, so I should make sure he is prepared. I guess it's a fine line. 


Thanks for any advice or tips! 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

My 8th grader takes outsourced science classes. He retakes the quizzes for those questions that he got wrong. He had a test recently and it also allows for retake for the multiple choice section while the free response question is graded by the teacher with no retakes. There is a slight penalty for wrong answers so he doesn't get 100% if he had like four wrong answers out of thirty on his first try and all correct on his second try.


The only review I do with my kids is reviewing their AP test prep practice tests after they have done it by making sure they know where they went wrong or what careless errors they made or how incomplete their answers were. So they do their own review before their tests and I do the review with them after.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I help dc review by going through the text and having dc explain back to me all of the info, paragraph by paragraph.


"What does __ mean?"

"Explain how __ works."

"What are the three main parts of __?"

"Why is__important?"

"Draw a diagram illustrating the changes that occur in __."

"Explain the difference between __ and __. Which would you expect to find in ___? Why?"


When I know the text covers small details that are on the test, I include them in the review without drawing attention to them. Sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn't.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How you handle this may depend on what the book tests are actually testing. Sometimes the tests in the book seem to focus on details that are easy to formulate into a multiple choice question, but aren't really that important. I have the same complaint about some of the end of course exams that I see. If you only have 50 questions to assess all that a student was supposed to have learned in freshman biology, I would not choose 'If Biuret reagent turns purple, it indicates that your sample contains a)protein' as one of the most important. :-) But, it's easier to test than 'Explain the process of protein synthesis' or 'What roles do proteins have in a cell?'. The last 2 are the questions that I ask on tests that I write, and I'm fine with asking them as homework questions because if students know those answers, they've learned what I want for them to know. For my students to correctly answer the one about Biuret months after we'd done the experiment, I'd have to tell them to learn that detail specifically. Since I don't think it's the most important thing to study for a cumulative final, I don't ask the question. :-) But, if I thought it was important, I'd have no problem with asking them to fill out a chart about molecules, testing solutions, and results as homework, and telling them to know it for the final.

Edited by ClemsonDana
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think what you're asking is not so much how to review in general, but that you know exactly what the test contains so you're struggling to not feed him only that information and nothing else, yeah? I think the answer is that in a classroom setting, a lot of teachers do exactly that - they know what they want students to remember, they hit those points repeatedly in lectures, review, outlines, reminders, etc. In other words, I think it's okay to do that to some extent. You don't want to spoonfeed it, you do want to try and point out other things he may be missing and review the chapter material as a whole, but it's okay to be sure to point out the material on the tests. A good test will have the information that's most important. We should teach to it.


I think "teach to the test" as a negative is really about the disconnect between these nebulous standardized tests that schools employ now where it's impossible to predict exactly what will be on there because there's far too much information. Or, it refers to tests that are about a narrow set of skills that are only very imperfectly measured by the test. Thus, teachers focus on test taking skills instead of real content or how to utilize skills anywhere other than on a multiple choice test.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are the items things that he is missing things you would have picked up on or emphasized if you had not first seen the test and quizzes?  When you discuss the material are you left thinking, "he didn't clearly understand this?" or are you left thinking "I know there is a question about XYZ and he hasn't mentioned that?"   


At the high school level I think it is important for students to start learning three things:  the course content, how to pick out the important materials in a chapter or lecture, how to learn from mistakes on a quiz or exam to start studying more wisely for future quizzes and exams based upon how learning is being measured in that particular course.   What happens if he misses some of these items on a quiz or test?  Can you use it as a teachable moment for how to study?  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If he is using the textbook solely as a supplemental resource for his online course, then could you just treat the quizzes and tests as additional learning aids rather than assessments?  If he reads through the textbook, outlines the material well, and still misses a few quiz questions, then I would just have him reread those short sections in the textbook, jot down the additional information on his notes/outline and "redo" the missed quiz questions the next day to help cement that information.


OTOH, if he is missing a lot of quiz questions, then that would seem to mean he needs to fine tune his outlining/note taking.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...