Preparing for Final Exams

Next week is Finals Week at our school. It happens to be one of my favorite weeks of the year as a teacher! This past week, though, is one of my least favorites. It is always challenging for me to gauge the amount of time students will need and honor with actual studying. I do not think there is a magic number or magic formula for getting students to use their time effectively on a study day. However, I think there are some great strategies out there to engage students.

One strategy I like to use is a game. Jeopardy, Quizlet, and Kahoots can be engaging and fun for students. I use a pretty simple game that requires fairly little prep. I will attempt to explain it below 😉

Students make teams of 3-4. Each team needs at least one textbook. There are two roles the groups need to designate prior to beginning – a recorder and a runner. The recorder writes answers on a piece of paper and the runner brings the paper to me to check. I set the following ground rules before beginning – 1. No running, 2. No interfering with another student on their way to me (i.e. no tripping, blocking, holding, etc.), 3. I have to be able to read the answers, 4. Each team only gets three chances per round.

For the game, I choose 4-5 multiple choice questions from the chapter review in the textbook. On the board, I write the page number and question numbers. The teams then find the questions, write the answer, and send the runner with the answers for me to check. When I check them, I tell them how many are right or how many are wrong, but I don’t tell them which questions are right or wrong. They then return to their groups for another chance. The first group to answer all of the questions correctly wins the round. Depending on the class, I might have them continue with this round until a second group has successfully answered the questions, awarding that group second place. This can keep some groups engaged longer and avoid the “they always win so what’s the point” conversation.

For the next round, I simply choose another 4-5 multiple choice questions from the same chapter review or another one. I try to vary the questions and pages so that students are not anticipating and working on the next round before it has been given. In other words, I don’t do #1-5 for round 1, #6-10 for round 2, etc. Instead, I might do #8-12 for round 1, #1-5 for round 2, then switch pages or chapters.

The questions I choose have the same content as questions I will be giving on the Final exam.  This is the most time consuming part of the prep work. I do not teach directly from the textbook. Instead, I use it as a resource. Because of this, it takes me longer to choose the questions I feel will best reflect those on the exam. Since this is a review activity, I want to honor the students’ time by giving them questions with content they need to know rather than random questions unrelated to what we have been studying. Though this is the biggest part of planning the activity, it really does not take all that long because I know what we have covered and just need to read the questions to see if they suit our needs.

Most students get into the competition aspect of this game. I am not always a fan of competition, but it motivates them through this activity. What is a bit funny to me, though, is that they are competing for pride. I do not give any prizes; I don’t even keep a tally of winners for the rounds. I simply mark the winning team’s paper with a star. 🙂

I would love to hear your review strategies. Let’s talk!

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