Monday, September 27, 2010

Test Improvements

To the Board of Education:

No student likes taking tests, except for that one kid who sits in the corner, but I think he's crazy anyways. One can come to the logical conclusion, then, that if we improved various facets of tests, they would grow in attractiveness. Unfortunately, hiring PR agents has not worked in the past.

What I'm proposing is a system-wide change. This means testing the tests, and throwing the tests that don't pass the test out. That test which tests the tests must also be tested by a group of accomplished test-takers (who of course, took a test to earn that title.)

We need stricter guidelines for tests, and routine testings to make sure those tests are doing their job. A bad test only brings the grade for the rest of the tests down. It's like an election; the most appealing tests will remain "in office" as it were.

Now, here are some of the changes I would propose, to make all tests better.

#1: TL;DR's for test questions

Students are lazy. That is something you can't change without great effort and copious amounts of brainwashing. I'm not sure if you know this, but nearly 92% of our brainwash is created in China. The other 8% is manufactured by various political parties. Rather than expend all that necessary effort, I recommend we make one simple change to the tests. That is, add tl;dr's to every question for those students who are too lazy to read through the whole thing themselves. These students, rather than making pretty pictures out of the bubbles on the answer sheet, will actually spend time on the questions, once simplified. Here's an example question with a possible tl;dr:

Rob has a pet frog that jumps 10 meters with every jump. The frog's jump takes one second, and must rest for three seconds after every jump. If Rob times the frog for 24 seconds, how far will the frog have jumped?
tl;dr: 10*(24/6) = ?

#2: Simpler Multiple Choice

I don't know about you test writers, but honestly, the number of possibilities for all the multiple choice questions have been increasing. My grandfather remembers when there were only three choices per answer. (Of course, he's dead, so I'm interpreting his movements, or lack thereof.) The SAT now has four per answer, and AP tests have five. What will be next? Six? Seven?

Again, to help those lazy students out, I would suggest either making the correct answer more pertinent (e.g. circling it in red beforehand) or reducing the number of answers, an example of which is given below.

The trees whistled in the wind which flew by in the dark of night.
The underlined is an example of what literary technique?
A) Personification

#3: Meta-questions

Now, I don't know about you, but I've never met a student who didn't like a good meta-question. Of course, being the anti-social guy that I am, I haven't actually met anybody, per se, so read into that as far as you like. Meta-questions are pretty straightforward - they reference themselves, and are really good reading while tripping on acid. There's not much more to say, so I'll give an example here:

Here is a statement. Here is another statement. This is a statement which tells you that the degree of this equation is 4. Here is some bullshit which would help you on that AP World History test you took last week. Here's the actual equation you'll need, but you probably won't notice it because you're skimming the test with 30 seconds to go. You probably thought 30 was the answer, idiot. Here's a closing statement.

#4: More Interesting Questions

In the same vein of the last suggestion, I would recommend questions that actually capture the test-taker's attention. I mean, do we really care about Rob's frog? Or what Betty gets on her test if it's graded on a curve? Or how many times that douchebag Cartman has pissed in your OJ?

Okay, maybe we do care about that last one, but for different reasons which involve baseball bats and reducing the amount of piss in our orange juice. But honestly, it doesn't take much to capture the attention of the average teenager. For example, you could put some boobs are random points at the test, or put small amounts of money after each question. (I swear I wouldn't just rifle through the test for the money!) Honestly, I don't think I should/need to put an example here. Otherwise the rest of this would never get read.

Wait. What rest of this?

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