Add a ‘how certain are you?’ element to spice up factual tests

Overview

To spice up factual tests, require students not merely to provide an answer, but to choose how many points to play for to reflect their confidence. If they’re correct, they win that amount of points, if not they lose the same amount.

Example

Here is the start of a factual test on the Civil Rights Movement. Students have to choose first whether they are confident enough to answer the question. If they do, they play for up to three points, knowing that an incorrect answer will mean their overall score being reduced by this amount.

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The maximum score is obviously if they play for 3 points for every single question and get the answers right (75 points). But by the same reasoning, the worst score would be -75. Therefore it’s a good idea to add 75 onto the final score to get a total which can range instead from 0-150 (if that makes sense!).

I tried this format out for the first time with a couple of classes last week, and they found it very engaging. It removed the element of guesswork to a large extent, and I ended up with a much wider spread of marks because the test measures not just factual recall, but how securely the students felt they were with their knowledge acquisition.

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