Three Ways to Help Students Gain Knowledge from Tests

Students can effectively improve their metacognitive abilities by participating in a review activity immediately following a test.

Students’ content mastery is only one aspect of the information collected by tests. They also show how well and how poorly students study, manage their time, and perform other executive functions. A student who excels at matching or memorizing definitions, for instance, may be demonstrating her propensity for memorization; The same student might have trouble answering short-answer questions, which could indicate problems with synthesis or application.

Three Ways to Help Students Gain Knowledge from Tests

We can instruct students to perform a “test replay” in order to take advantage of these brain insights and advance their metacognition after the test. Students can develop their executive functions and improve their test scores by reflecting on the learning process rather than just the content through this procedure.

Play a sport, play an instrument, or play a video game. Because you receive immediate feedback on your performance, you improve quickly. Did you miss a shot? Try once more right away. Did your clarinet hit a sour note? Try again with your fingers adjusted. This immediate feedback loop facilitates rapid progress and partially explains why learning in these settings is so enjoyable. By assisting students through the test replay process, we can learn from these experiences and provide students with faster feedback.

I’ve devised three efficient methods that educators can employ to assist students in improving their executive function.


After a test, encourage students to do a brain dump in which they write down their thoughts, questions, and surprises. A prediction of how they performed and an assessment of how well they were prepared by their education can also be included in instant replays. Allowing students to explore formats for capturing their instant replay ideas is essential if we want them to internalize these metacognitive approaches; A binder of paper, a digital tool, and an audio recording are excellent options that allow each student to discover what they like best.

I’ve found that teachers who give their students a 5- to 10-minute instant replay after the test see higher test scores and better test results in the future.

Teachers can also make adjustments to their assessments and instruction thanks to student feedback; Teachers can alter their approach in subsequent lessons if many students express feeling unprepared or overprepared for particular test components. Think about offering replays as opportunities rather than points; the exclusion of an evaluated perspective will support more genuineness and transparency.

Some guiding questions for instant replay are as follows:

-What aspects of the content do I recall? What was the topic of the test?).
-What aspects of the format do I recall? How did the exam appear?).
-How did I fare?
-For what was I well-prepared?
-What parts made me feel unsteady?
-What did my instructor appear to emphasize or not adequately cover?
-In what ways did the test meet or exceed my expectations?
What shocked me?

Students may recall that the test’s questions appeared to originate from the following sources:

-Student notes
-The lectures.
-The test simulator.
-What my instructor emphasized or repeated.
-The instructional videos we watched.
-I’m unsure.


You can guide students through a more in-depth examination of their thinking and studying when scores are returned, shifting your attention away from the content and scores. Allow students to have some thoughts and feelings about their scores and remind them that any incorrect answers are just learning opportunities for them to improve their classroom management. You can lead them through a discussion of the test’s most frequently skipped questions and problems. Some questions for the slow-motion replay are as follows:

-What hints are included in the exam question?
-How did you narrow down the choices or find the incorrect responses?
-Can you describe your think-aloud on this issue to me?
-Are you able to decipher the purpose of this question?
-What methods did you employ to ensure that you comprehended the prompt?

Students may share their own study and test-taking strategies with one another as a result of these powerful conversations. Students frequently know about online study tools and resources before we do! My students, for instance, have discovered publisher study guides and methods for converting PowerPoint slides into flash cards.

3. Create fresh plays.

Students will likely have ideas for how to better prepare for the upcoming exams after some post-test replays. Write down their strategies and encourage them to share their thoughts with the class. If you know the date of the next test, ask students to write it down in their planners or calendars, and then tell them to plan their study time around the test date. It is analogous to writing a new play after participating in a game and gaining knowledge.

For instance, students might want to think about the following new plays for a test they have coming up.

-Align the format of the test with your method of study (matching, multiple-choice, and questions at the end of chapters; essays/short answers: write practice essays, learn key facts and vocabulary, and memorize some sentence starters.
-Plan a time to talk to the instructor three to five days before the test.
-Organize your study time into three to five-day segments.
-The day before the test, clear your social calendar.
-Review before going to bed.
-Get enough water in.

Students’ executive function skills are strengthened and their performance on subsequent assessments is enhanced when they are given the opportunity to learn through test experiences. Your students’ self-examination and self-awareness will benefit them in class and in life as they use the replay process to continually improve their results.


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