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Strategy Turn test prep into learning


Repetitive practice on multiple choice test items does not raise scores much, nor does it help students sort out their misunderstandings. The Turn Test Prep in Learning strategy focuses on changing classroom practices devoted to preparing students for high-stakes assessments. It shifts test preparation from solving multiple-choice items and checking answers to engaging students in reasoning about the mathematical content and processes embedded in the items.

The alternative responses offered in multiple-choice items are not random. Apart from the correct answer, they are usually those responses that arise from the most common misconceptions. This strategy works by having students analyze distractors to detect, diagnose and work through misconceptions, with the aim of helping them develop better understanding of the mathematics.

This has five highly beneficial effects:
  • Students come to understand their own individual mistakes and misconceptions.
  • This “detective” role leads students to think in more reflective ways.
  • Students feel more responsible for their own learning.
  • The strategy leads to more robust long-term learning and, if done well, higher test scores.
  • Teachers broaden their range of teaching style and strategies in a valuable way.

To use this strategy effectively, the teacher needs to handle classroom discussions with and between students in a facilitative non-directive way. The tools for implementation of this strategy include teacher materials as well as resources for professional development to support teachers in using the materials in their classroom.

The "download extended report" gives a full description of this strategy including planning essentials,budget, benefits, and evaluative evidence.

Applicable tools

Challenges addressed

Complementary strategies