By Abby Zutz
I have recently found that in my classes, especially while I am online, I am doing really badly on tests and quizzes. I don’t know how I do so poorly on these tests when I do great throughout the chapter and don’t have a problem getting 100% on the assignments. Is it really possible that I just stink at taking tests?
It turns out I am not the only one with this problem, according to a July 23, 2020, blog I read called “If Your Teenager is a Good Student But a ‘Bad Test Taker’, Here’s What You Can Do To Help.” Some students have a 4.0 grade point average, but then they don’t perform well on an ACT or SAT. Just because a student does poorly on tests does not mean that the student isn’t smart. If a student gets a low grade in a class, it could be due to low test scores, considering tests are a significant portion of your grade. It’s an overused stereotype that students with low test scores aren’t smart, and it is frustrating to hear such a comment when you are a “bad test taker.”
Anxiety is high among high school students, and the numbers of mental illnesses in high school students are also climbing. I think school is difficult online, and it is important to take time for yourself and your mental health in such stressful times. When students start to fall into a slump, they try to act like they don’t care about their final grades, and they push it off like it is no big deal. But in reality they really want high scores, and they are truly trying their hardest to earn those scores. With anxiety and test taking, some students let the nerves get to them. Most of us have gotten nervous before tests. Whether it is a history test or a driver’s test, it gets your nerves up, and the anxiety is high.
Some students have a bad sleep schedule. They stay up all night playing video games, or maybe even doing homework. Lack of sleep is a huge problem with test taking; if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it is expected that you will struggle on that test, and it is harder to focus.
If I were a teacher would I give tests differently? If I were a high school teacher, I wouldn’t give tests. I know it’s strange, right? I personally think tests aren’t needed. I would give a chapter assessment to see what I could improve and what the students struggle with. These would be graded low, like 10 points, because the high scores of tests are scary. So what will keep kids engaged? How would I get students to learn anything if I didn’t require a test at the end? Simple – don’t. I think many of us can agree that if you are forced to do something, you automatically don’t want to do it. If your parents are on your tail about doing homework, you don’t want to do it. I get it. So if I were a teacher, I wouldn’t force students to do anything; it is their choice and their responsibility if they want to learn anything. In Minnesota you are required to show “proof” that students have met the Minnesota Standards, so teachers have to collect assessments from daily work, quizzes, tests, and projects. If you give out a “test” that is 10-15 points you aren’t putting so much stress on your students and they will be more successful, in my opinion. These “tests” are your “proof.” Good thing I will never become a high school teacher!
So, parents, if you have a student that is struggling, be supportive and understanding. It isn’t easy. If your student fails a test, it is okay. Tests are hard, and right now everyone is struggling while distance learning at home, or learning on a hybrid schedule. A bad grade doesn’t determine your child’s potential. Offer help and support, and give your child time to relax or take a brain break. Your child isn’t the only one struggling.
Abby Zutz is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of nine area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 22nd year.