I tried something brand new this semester as part of the final exam review, and am very hopeful of its help to my students on the upcoming comprehensive exam next week. Students were given time within the review session to re-examine the previous tests of the semester; each student got 3-5 minutes with each test, depending on the time we had available after questions.
It should be noted that all tests began with bubble sheets (ScanTron). Students have had my 15 weekly office hours to check in on their exam performance throughout the semester. If they wanted to know precisely what they missed, they were always encouraged to do so. In addition, I have regularly gone over the most frequently missed questions from each exam within two class periods after an exam.
I had a couple of ground rules for this particular review session:
- Absolutely NO phones allowed to be visible or out in any way during this session. Because the exams contain material that has a copyright from our publisher, I had to impose this guideline. It’s the only way to be fair to future students, as well as to protect the copyright.
- All exams must be returned to the instructor. Because the material falls under copyright law and it would be unethical to take a test out of the room, and the consequences of doing so would be dire for the entire section.
All in all, I think this could be a helpful way to review. Generally, students seem to have enjoyed having a chance to look back through old tests and see questions.
As I have stated several times throughout the semester, students are allowed to review their online quizzes at any time, and the textbook’s end-of-chapter review questions are a great way to confirm existing knowledge and understanding. Reinforcing learning increases the likelihood of improved performance on the exams. In addition, nearly every question is either directly taken from examples or phrasings in the book, and my comprehensive final is generally a lot of repeated material from previous exams.