Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Hot Sweaty Guesswork

On this unreasonably warm week, my year 8s are taking tests.
They've done pretty well, not staggered me, but pretty good skills.
On the way out of the non-calculator test, i had this exchange with one pupil:

Me: Well, what did you think?
P: It was pretty hard, i hate it when it's all multiple choice.

These are the government issue Year 8 Optional Tests (our mighty leaders appear to issue the exact same ones every year, but I digress). Upon taking the time to go through the paper, out of 60 marks 23 were of a multiple guess style (either ringing the correct answer, or drawing lines to the right answer)

Personally, I dislike these type of questions, I'd have none of them - every time I see one I picture some faceless examiner Tarranting the kid "is that your final answer?" accompanied by ridiculous over dramatic background muzak.

But I was amazed that over one third of this paper (to put it in context, pure guesswork could get a pupil a grade D equivalent) was open to wild guesswork.

However, far be it from me to question the examining powrs of the mighty higher ups, so i felt it befit a level of analysis. I asked some random pupils in my form to completely guess every multiple choice answer (P1 guessed the first option for each one which i enjoyed very much as an experimental method - his logic was that he figured people would never expect the right answer to be written so close to the question, so the examiners would view it as 'guess proof' - more fool them, we've seen through your little ruse!)

Anyway, total guessing led to the first kid getting 9/23 (actually, pretty impressive since he guessed all "a"s - a lesson learned - guess a for good grades!), p2 got 8 and p3 got 11.

Anyone else concerned that a kid actively instructed to not read the question or think about it at all can gain around 10 marks out of 60 of this exam?

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