Math Study Skills – Creating Practice Quizzes

As we all learned in grad school, being able to anticipate what you’ll be asked is half the battle to be successful on an exam. Helping your students to learn how to create their own practice quizzes will help them learn how to take control of their own education.

Assignment/Activity

• Assign your students to create a practice quiz for the first section in a chapter.
• Give them an idea about the types of problems, as well as how many, to include. For the first time I suggest somewhere between 5 and 8 questions, depending on the course and topic. I also tell my students to have a nice variety of problems – some on the easier side, and some that are more challenging. They should be representative of the section, and the goal is to create a practice quiz that prepares a student to take a real quiz on the section.

This can be an in-class activity if you have a spare 10-15 minutes the first time you try it with your students. It can also be a homework assignment.

Where Do You Find Problems To Include?

I suggest starting with odd problems in the textbook. The reason for this is that there are answers in the back that can be used to check your work. Other options are selecting problems from the chapter review or the chapter test in the textbook. If your textbook contains “Quick Check” exercises (exercises that directly follow the examples in the textbook), your students could choose some problems from these.

To determine which problems to include, take a look at the section objectives and include 1 or 2 problems for each objective. Another approach is to look at the homework exercises and select a couple of problems from each problem grouping.

What Do You Do Once The Students Are Done Creating Their Practice Quizzes?

You can:

• Collect the quizzes and give your feedback.
This gives you a chance to point out omissions of important types, as well as whether the level of difficulty is appropriate.
• Have students swap quizzes and analyze the other student’s test. (Too hard, too easy, missing this type of problem, …)
Same idea as the above option, but this gives students the chance to analyze a practice quiz for length and content. This should help them in the future to write better practice quizzes. This could also lead to a THINK-PAIR-SHARE opportunity: have the students merge their two quizzes into one quiz.
• Have students swap quizzes and take each other’s practice quiz, Ask the student who wrote the practice quiz to grade it.
This gives the students a chance to take the practice quiz, which is the ultimate goal. A benefit of this approach is it forces students to evaluate each other’s work and explain how to do the problems correctly if there were errors. This can only increase the understanding of both students.
• Assemble one practice quiz from all of the students and distribute it to the class.
You could print it out and hand it out in class, but there are other ways. You could post it through a Facebook group, send the questions out through Twitter, … The opportunities are endless.

Building From There

Repeat the process for each section in the chapter. At the midway point, explain to your students that all of their quizzes can be combined into a cumulative practice quiz. The same can be done at the end of the chapter. I do recommend creating a new practice test at the end of the chapter. Students can compare their practice test to the Chapter Test in the textbook to determine if it’s thorough enough.

MyMathLab Student Generated Practice Quizzes

In November I blogged about student generated practice quizzes – you can view that blog here. It’s a great way to get your students involved, and a great way to generate quality practice quizzes that your students can practice as much as they would like to.

Summary

You can help your students to become more responsible for their own learning by teaching them how to develop their own practice quizzes. This is a skill that will serve them well in your class, and any other class that they take in the future regardless of the discipline. It doesn’t take much class time to get them started, and the benefits are clearly worth it.

-George

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Tuesday I post an article related to Math Study Skills on my blog. If there’s a particular study skill you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website – http://georgewoodbury.com.