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Students can learn so much by taking a close look at what they did well on tests — and where they went wrong. I love Cal Newport’s three pieces of advice for how to do a “post-mortem” on a test:

“What did I do right? What note-taking and study strategies served you well on the exam? What was a waste of time? Which strategies took up time but did not help? What did I miss? Where were you caught off guard? What type of question were you not prepared for? What type of material did you miss in your review?”

This is one reason why it drives me CRAZY that so many teachers do not allow students to keep their exams! I find this is the case most often with public school teachers, who have so many students coming through their classrooms AND so much concern about eliminating the opportunity to cheat. I do feel sorry about the administrative hassle that test-taking causes. However, so many of my clients consistently do poorly on tests even though they do well on all the assignments leading up to the test. And we have no way of reviewing the tests to see what is wrong. I have to admit that when I was a teacher, I often kept kids’ tests, too, because I was concerned about them losing them … and then not being able to use them for the final exam. However, this micromanaging of kids’ organization process doesn’t help them in the least.

I strongly believe that a student’s answers are their intellectual property, and therefore belong to them.

What do you learn and take away from your tests? Leave a comment and let me know!

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