In the ELT community, there are so many opinions when it comes to Tests & Exams. There is a major revolution in Social Media where there are many educators who complain about Exams, Testing, Exam Preparation. Well, I believe that what is happening is amazing. It is time for us, as educators, to understand that YES our students take exams, YES our students pass the exams.. but.. NO language is not about the Exams.
I could say that it is the cherry on the cake, or the light in the end of the tunnel, I could even say that it is the final destination to our trip. But an exam is not the goal, an exam is not the purpose, an exam is not the vision nor the mission.
Text by: Konstantina Karamouta
If I had to choose only a mission, that would be for my students to be educated and if I had to choose only one vision, well.. that would be to change education.
I am a rebel when it comes to education. I was from the first day I entered my classroom and I will be till the end. Not because I do not like anything but because learners deserve the best in education.
I would like you to take a deep breath and think. Think of your students when you tell them that they are going to write a test. Think of them months before they sit an exam.. Do you think of happy faces? I believe that you think of eyes full of anxiety, shaking hands, expressions of excuses like 'I am not ready', 'I didn't study enough'..
Well... how can we change that?
Now.. Let's use our time machine and travel to the past when students first entered your classroom. What could you do better?
- Assess without Test - Classroom Tour
Think about that. A year full of challenges and projects. A curriculum which all you want to offer is meaningful experiences, creative projects, challenges. But when it comes to the test?
Well, if you have such meaningful context and creations, why don't you use them to assign your learners? Every challenge has learning outcomes so why can't they use them to revise what they know? Give your students pen & paper and that's all you need. Ask your ss to move around in the classroom and keep notes on what they see. For example, my students had built a 3D jungle. I put the jungle in front of them and I asked them to describe it. They used all the vocabulary we learned, all the grammatical features and that worked amazingly!
- surprise.. BOOM!
The only surprise our learners do not need is to surprise them with a test. Tell your students to study, to prepare not for the test, but for a collaborative project. Choose a theme and ask them to prepare on that. Have your students sit on the floor and create a circle. Start reminding their topic and let them do the talking. Students have to connect with each other, exchange their ideas and what they know. Is there a better way to understand what they have learnt?
- The Term
Because of our schools, tests cause stressful experiences to our learners. Try not to use tests but not to use this term either. Prefer to assign collaborative tasks, creative projects, STEAM challenges but not tests. There are so many ways to escape from this terrifying experience.
Well.. now the year has passed and exams are on their way. What is my final tip? Don't do more practice tests, don't practise on grammar, vocabulary, use of English.. You have done enough tests already. I believe that since they are going to take the exams, they are ready to do it. So.. have fun with your learners! Help them relax, create meaningful activities for them and with them. Ask THEM what they want to do, to discuss, to create. Do some creative writing tasks, write stories, explore STEAM, write a poem, make a presentation.. but don't do other tests.
Help your students explore, innovate and relax.