End of Term Assessment Advice

At this time of year, we are always asked for advice on running end of term assessments. This blog breaks down how to maximise your use of December summative assessments. But before we discuss the test itself, it is necessary to examine what has happened before the test occurs…

Whilst it is obviously important to imbue a love of learning in students along with metacognitive and social skills, students are also dependent on their teachers to teach them how to achieve top grades, whether this is SATS, GCSEs, A-Levels or just topic tests. Therefore, as we’ve discussed previously you should always use the ‘endpoint’ to inform your planning. Normally this is using a learning objective to form a lesson but here we are suggesting the use of the end assessment to plan the content and skills that need to be covered in a sequence of lessons for a student to achieve full marks.

Previous assessment
This will also lead to your assessment for learning throughout the lesson series. Why not use similar question formats as plenaries or activities throughout your lessons? This enables you to check their learning and see if anything needs reteaching or revising but will also give them a confidence boost in the test when they see similar questions. This is where the concept of mock exams stems from – not a data-driven burden but for students to experience all possible question types so nothing is a surprise in the exam – reducing student anxiety! NOTE: Do not use the ACTUAL test questions. Always make sure you change the content or wording. If students are also using mark schemes to self- and peer-assess these tasks this will also help them achieve in the assessment as they know what you (the examiner) is looking for. It is also important that these assessments are reviewed by students to make sure they do not repeat mistakes for ‘the real thing’.

Ask yourself 2 questions:

  • Do the students know what to revise? A Personal Learning Checklist (PLC) sheet is really useful to help with this – Google it for a wide range of ideas! Why not make one at the start of the topic the assessment is based on to help both you AND the students track their learning and confidence?
  • Do the students know how to revise? Students, especially younger students do not know how to revise! But don’t worry, we’ll be covering this as next week’s hot topic so stay tuned!
The Test Itself
Students often need support and scaffolding to achieve in assessments as they may still be new to ‘official’ assessments. Here are some top tips for formatting your assessments:
  1. Make sure that you have a clear space for namedateclass to avoid needless questions at the beginning of the assessment.
  2. The ordering of questions is important. Having the questions in the order that the topics were taught with the larger summative questions coming at the end will make more sense to the students.
  3. Very clear instructions. Double-check that the command words you have used are correct and that you’ve shown the marks available for each question. If the question is worth 2 marks – how do they get them? Tell them how to be successful!
  4. Give lines/spaces for students to complete. This shows them how much is expected and makes it easier to mark! A good rule of thumb for longer written answers is to use 1 ½ lines per mark.

Doing the Test

Students may not necessarily behave as expected during an assessment so it is always worth reminding them of expectations and reminding them of some tips for good marks to boost their confidence.
  • Before the test is handed out, give clear instructions on what students should or shouldn’t do e.g. completing details on the front, to not open the paper until instructed to do so and that as soon as they are handed out, the class is in exam conditions.
  • Silence should be expected – you can scare older students that at GCSE they can get zero marks if they’re caught talking. Students can raise their hand if they have a question.
  • Clearly explain the time limit and advise on how to chunk up their time if necessary. Have a digital countdown/timer on the board.
  • Useful reminders to give:
    • Look at how many marks are available for each question.
    • Carefully look at the question’s command word.
    • Feel free to plan out your answer first.
    • You get zero marks if you leave a question blank, but writing something may get you some marks!
  • Make sure you have explained to students what they should do when they finish!

Please let us know if you would like any further advice by emailing: training@prosperoteaching.com