In hopes of helping my students practice and deepen their understanding of math knowledge, I wanted to bring up the topic of a test correction analysis - I didn't find much on this topic when I searched for it here.

So here's a screenshot of a test correction analysis that I provide to my current Intermediate Algebra college students who didn't do well on an exam:

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One reason for allowing students to do a test correction analysis and get points for doing it (half credit least) is to improve student retention. Another one is to reduce fear. Students can get a passing score if they complete an error analysis to an "F" exam grade. This college serves a low income community and the retention level of this Math class is very low because students lose hope of passing the course. Instructors start with 35 students and end up with 18 or 19 in the end. I have sort of remedied a cure for this by reducing the fear of failing for my students.

When I talk about fear, I mean that my goal as a teacher is to instill in my students that success in this life comes to those who are willing to persevere with a task even when they are not having fun, that instant gratification is not always possible, but that the long term benefits and rewards are well worth the investment of time and energy I am asking them to make. With this in mind, if they sacrifice some of their own time, then they deserve to be rewarded with the opportunity to improve their grade by doing this test correction. What is most important to me is that they learn the concepts and material so that they can apply them to problems, even if I have to wait an extra day or two. One reward for their sacrifice is a better grade in my class. The ultimate reward is knowledge.

Rules for test correction:

1) Must be completed within 1 week and at the Math Tutoring Center. Proof of math tutoring must be verified (I can check if they went to tutoring on my online portal). If no tutoring services were attended, I cannot accept the test correction (this is what I mean by them sacrificing their own time to attend Math center).

2) If you failed an exam, the highest possible score you can get is a passing grade (70%) after an error analysis.

3) If you did not fail an exam, only 1/4 credit will be added to your exam grade per wrong problem.

My main question is: would this forum consider this an effective tool? I would appreciate some feedback. I started with 35 students and still am at 35 students (which is a miracle). I am also providing one day out of the whole semester for any student to retake an exam (different version) for a better grade. I have been told that I'm lowering the standard. But my rebuttal to that is that I am making learning more accessible. Your thoughts?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Do you find that the students notice patterns of mistakes, and avoid those mistakes in the future? This kind of after-action review can help identify common mistakes. $\endgroup$
    – Jasper
    Jan 21, 2015 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ You may want to look "metacognition" on google. I know, the word sounds too fancy to believe that there is some substance behind it, but there really is as far as I can tell. They suggest that the students (all of them) do both pre-assessment and post-assessment for each test and provide some good samples and ideas of what too ask/look at. Whether to give extra points for correcting errors or not is your decision. Just do what seems to work best for your particular class. I see nothing wrong with passing the students who learn on the second attempt, provided that the learning is there at all. $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Jan 4 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


What are you worried about? 1) Are you worried about passing a certain percentage of students? 2) Are you worried that students may cheat to achieve this passing grade? 3) Are you worried that students do not learn your material?

With little doubt, you will answer #3, but is that the truth? (only you can answer that question--you will not answer it truthfully here). Passing a percentage of students is easy, and, should be the ultimate goal. The reason it should be an ultimate goal is that you should have a majority of your class understand the concepts presented--thus passing a majority of your class should be easy. But it's "easy" because you can make up whatever grades you like such that you pass a majority of your class. Being concerned about whether or not your students learn the material is much harder...but that's a different, and unanswerable question.

I don't see a problem with offering corrections to a test (and even giving FULL credit for the corrections--if done properly). Let's assume it's completely passive: they simply turn in corrections and you give them half credit. One way or another, they had to go out of their way to get the solutions, whether by a tutor or not, they had to at least write down their solutions--I think half credit here is fine.

I taught calculus for a year and I allowed corrections (it was for half credit, but I would have been fine with full credit the way I did it), but to get the full credit you would have to have to come to me and explain your solutions (even if I had already given the solution). That doesn't mean you turn in a paper assignment with the solution, it means you come to me (during office or tutoring hours) and you explain to me each problem you got wrong. During that time, I ask you why your solution is valid and I probe the student to understand whether or not they actually understand their mistakes (or their solution).

This type of probing will tell you whether or not the student understands the material and thus whether or not you should change their grade accordingly.


I would not give exam points for corrections. I would worry that the tutor might do too much of the work, and the student might still not understand.

What I do is tell the students they must correct their problem, explain what went wrong in their process, and do two others like it. They must do this for each problem they got wrong. Then they can do a test retake (alternate version, and get full credit for their new exam score.

I do not believe I have lowered the standards.


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