Questions tagged [exams]

This tag is intended for questions about exams as viewed from the point of view of an instructor.

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5
votes
1answer
239 views

Exam Writing: Combining Topics on Exams in New Ways

The Question: Does combining two or more topics into one question on a mathematics examination when the topics have not notably been combined in the course lecture, homework, or other assessments ...
16
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4answers
6k views

Worldwide collection of final examinations in mathematics

I am interested in comparing mathematics (and also physics) final examinations from all around the world for the highest secondary school qualification in the particular country. Especially I am ...
12
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2answers
550 views

Resources on how to mark a maths exam

I am looking for some resources which tells someone how to mark a (1st year undergraduate level) maths exam paper. Ideally it would cover the basic stuff, like making an error at the top doesn't ...
10
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2answers
318 views

Placement tests for middle school math

Our district has changed its approach to placing students in grades 6 and 7 math classes. Students considered for placement above grade level must now take a test composed of problems drawn from the ...
19
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5answers
1k views

How to award points for sense-making at the end of a problem?

Here is a statistics question I asked on a recent exam: How high should the doorway be to allow 97% of men to fit through it? I got a very large number of answers like "3 inches" or "0.0001 feet". ...
4
votes
1answer
345 views

Abandon all hope, ye who enter my office!

The sentence in the title is inspired by a sentence on the gate of hell in Dante Alighieri's masterwork Divine Comedy (Part I: Inferno). I usually write it on my office door after exams when I think ...
20
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2answers
697 views

Handing out $2 calculators for tests?

In a store last weekend, I saw a simple solar-powered calculator for $2. It had four functions plus a square root key. I'm considering the possibility of buying 50 such calculators and handing them ...
11
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5answers
5k views

Grading scale: how to handle multiple choice questions with different number of choices

Suppose you have been told to give a multiple choice exam, and to nullify the effects of random guessing by penalizing incorrect answers. Suppose there are $N$ available choices, of which exactly one ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

On what total do you grade your exams?

Let's say that a given course has $3$ exams that are worth $25\%, 35\%$ and $40\%$ each. When building and correcting the exam, do you give/take out points so that the total sums to $25,35$ or $40$ ...
6
votes
2answers
148 views

Should midterms exams include the most recently covered material?

Should material covered in the class period prior to a midterm be included on the exam? My usual instinct is no---students can't (and shouldn't) be expected to have absorbed material until they've ...
28
votes
9answers
4k views

When handing back exams, what should we tell our students about the distribution of exam scores?

I've seen a variety of approaches to the day we hand back our exams. Show every score listed in order, so every student knows exactly how they compare to others Show an aggregated histogram, for ...
16
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4answers
2k views

Requiring students to know all the proofs on an oral exam

I'm asking this question as a student, wondering what various pros/cons to the given formula for oral exams could be. Let me give some context first. I am a first year mathematics student at a ...
11
votes
2answers
236 views

How useful are quizzes in undergraduate math courses?

So I have given quizzes in two different ways (1) Quizzes will be a problem taken "verbatim" from an example in this weeks reading, prior to the topic being presented in class. and (2) Quizzes ...
5
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3answers
704 views

Item Analysis in Mathematics Exams

I'd like to process data like the following, from my most recent seven-question exam. ...
21
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2answers
642 views

Exam philosophy

I'm curious if anyone knows of any books, studies, or other resources on the philosophy of creating and grading mathematics exams. After working as a graduate TA for 4 years and dealing with a wide ...
9
votes
1answer
367 views

How should exam scores correlate to final grades?

Updated: The first version of this question was implicitly assuming that we know in advance roughly what the distribution of grades in a class will be (for instance, roughly the same as last year). ...
6
votes
1answer
198 views

Timed Exams, More Generally

This question is similar to "Should I design my exams to have time-pressure or not?", but is, I think, sufficiently different to deserve its own space. Naively, there are two benefits to placing (any,...
6
votes
3answers
186 views

Should one visualize properties of a matrix or/and state its properties?

Sometimes, if you want students to manipulate some sort of special matrices (like, asking if they are invertible or ask for a LU decomposition, etc.), you have to possibility to state all properties ...
16
votes
3answers
641 views

Cute Word Problems

I'm wondering about the use of word problems on exams which are "cute": they have a slightly funny story, or some sort of pop culture reference, or tie into a running theme of some kind. (As an ...
14
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3answers
266 views

How to keep track of your old exercises in a heavy proof based course?

In a typical course (proof-based, for the context of this question) I have about 50 exercises that I might want to use when I teach the course again. Each exercise might be used in the same way as ...
13
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5answers
766 views

Descriptive Thinking vs. Formal Writing

Sometimes I come across some exam answers which describe a proof sketch or a counterexample very well but are not written formally. Such proofs show that a particular student understands the general ...
19
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4answers
2k views

Students' Messy Sheets: The Big Problem of Exams and Homeworks

Students' messy exam and homework sheets (which are messy because of a bad handwriting or an irregular logical argument in proofs) cause many serious problems. e.g. Reading their arguments takes ...
12
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4answers
9k views

What should you do if you lose your student's exam?

Several times, I have come close to losing a student's Calculus exam. These exams are usually common exams, with everyone grading 100's of stacks. I've had exams go in wrong piles or get squished in ...
7
votes
2answers
280 views

How are exercises in vector geometry created?

I'm fairly new to teaching and am currently teaching high school students about vector geometry. I am currently making a test for them for next week and it is mostly about the scalar product and the ...
8
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2answers
260 views

What to do if an exam takes longer than intended?

This question is inspired by How can I estimate the length of an exam. It is not always possible to accurately predict how long an exam will take. As such, What should one do if an exams looks to be ...
6
votes
3answers
180 views

Where can I inform me about experiences with exam tasks heading for deeper understanding?

In a traditional exam, there is a strong focus on facts and techniques. For instance, in a course on linear algebra, students are asked to diagonalize matrices and they have to check whether a given ...
10
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5answers
2k views

Advantages on repeating question in student's answer

I see a lot of students who repeat the whole question (i.e., before starting with anything which has some content, they write down all assumptions, claims, etc.) in their answers in homework or exams. ...
15
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5answers
2k views

How to deal with answers containing completely off-topic/random/very wrong arguments?

It often happens that students answer (partly) a questions in an exam (lets assume this part is okay), but then add something completely off-topic or something very wrong in their answer (see examples ...
82
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15answers
14k views

Should I design my exams to have time-pressure or not?

Is it better to design an exam with fewer questions and relaxed timing or with more questions and a resulting time-pressure? One the one hand, it seems that students who really know the stuff will ...
12
votes
2answers
386 views

How to test knowledge on the real numbers in a written exam?

In German universities, the first-year students typically start their analysis courses with introducing the real numbers. Most commonly, the incompleteness of $\mathbb{Q}$ is discussed using the ...
9
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2answers
1k views

How does a take-home exam differ from a homework assignment?

I've taught several upper-level courses recently, and have considered giving take-home exams to reduce the time pressure in the classroom. However, their homework already consists of proving various ...
12
votes
4answers
393 views

How can I encourage my students to team work?

I have a motto, "My class is not an Olympic swimming pool! It is a museum full of the masterwork paintings! Relax and enjoy all of this mathematical beauty which I am drawing on the blackboard!" By ...
23
votes
6answers
2k views

What are some good rules for handling student questions during exams?

For example, I gave an exam earlier today with a problem that ended in the sentence Use the chain rule to find $(f\circ g)'(3)$. During the exam, one of the students asked me what the circle ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

What are effective alternatives to a written math exam to evaluate knowledge?

Some students do not do well under pressure or testing situations and cannot demonstrate their knowledge of a math subject with a written exam. On the other hand, I think that students that do not ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

What to do when students are not keeping their eyes on their own test?

At my university, exams take place in a lecture hall, but it is usually pretty packed. Along with alternating versions of tests, it is pretty easy for a student to look to the next row or their ...
7
votes
2answers
626 views

Grading problems that nobody solved

Once in a while an exam happens where nobody correctly solves (i.e. there might be partial solutions) that trivial problem of yours (and I'm not talking about intentionally hard and impossible tasks ...
13
votes
4answers
271 views

It is good to have old exams (with solutions) published?

What are the arguments in publishing or not publishing old exams? If yes, should they contain also a solution? Would you publish them directly after that particular exam or publish your old one's just ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Non-answerable questions on exam: What to do?

What is a good strategy when you realize (e.g. while grading the exam) that a question on an exam was incomplete/wrong? More concretely: If it is decided that additional points should be given: How ...
39
votes
6answers
11k views

How can I estimate the length of an exam?

Background: I am fairly new at teaching, and in every subject I have taught, I have had difficulty estimating the length and difficulty of an exam. I need to write an exam for a university senior-...
30
votes
7answers
14k views

What are the comparative advantages of open-book versus closed-book exams?

I would like to know the advantages and disadvantages of open-book exams as compared to closed-book exams, particularly in standard undergraduate courses like calculus or linear algebra. My practice ...
39
votes
11answers
7k views

Formula sheets and books during tests and exams

Some teachers make memorizing formulas, definitions and others things obligatory, and forbid "aids" in any form during tests and exams. Other allow for writing down more complicated expressions, ...

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