Nine reasons to switch to group tests in 2019!


I have been experimenting with group tests this year and the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.    So,  I am giving you my top nine reasons for making the switch from individual to group tests!

  1. Test day becomes a day of learning.  No more quiet desperation on test day.   Now, test day is the most active, engaged day on the schedule.    Students will work hard if their peers are depending on them.    Many groups actually have fun on test day!
  2. A lesson in social capital.  I work with older students and they are quick to identify and challenge non-contributors.    I find that groups are mostly kind to students who struggle with the test material, and brutally honest with those who choose not to work.
  3. Tests can be more challenging.    Group tests always need one or two hard questions that stimulate discussion.
  4. Reduced need for anti-cheating strategies (as in 6 versions of the same test).
  5. Reduced Anxiety.  Do you have those students who immediately have their hand in the air as soon as you hand them a test?  With a group test, students get assurance from their classmates.
  6. More authentic.  Most workplaces encourage employees to cooperate and seek help with problems.  Shouldn’t schools give it a try?
  7. Late comers and test-day skippers will get on board. Missing test day means going it alone.  Most students only make that mistake once.
  8. Less to grade.  Who doesn’t want fewer papers to grade?
  9. Nerds rule. That awkward, nerdy kid is now the most popular kid in the class!

Worried that your students won’t study?   Try an unannounced group test – I think you will love the results!

Using Google Classroom?  Try an animated theme:  Animated Headers for Google Classroom


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7 thoughts on “Nine reasons to switch to group tests in 2019!

    1. I administer roughly half of my assessments as group tests. I am teaching economics this year and my tests are a mix of multiple choice and complicated free answer problems. Each group submits one paper for grading.

      I usually put students in mixed ability groups of four. Occassionally, I let them choose their own groups.

  1. How do you set up your “mixed ability” groups? If you sort your kids into high, high-medium, low-medium, and low ability groups, do you have one of each, of put highs with low-medium and high-medium with lows?
    I’m having an awful time this year with lack of motivation among my HS students. My classes are a mix of 9-11th grade students, with wide variety of abilities. I teach environmental science and marine science. Have you tried it with groups of less than four?
    Thank you for the idea.

    1. I usually use groups of four and I put at least two students from the top half of the class in each group. There are usually one or two groups with only three students and it seems to work fine. I do a lot of group class assignments so I have a pretty good idea about which students work well together. Out of 170 students (5 classes), I have a handful that want to work alone which is discouraged, but allowed on test day.

  2. How does this get students ready for state tests? I teach special education, I like this idea. My school is serious about the data. Thank you

    1. I find that students work very intensely on group test day. I often use multiple choice questions and find that students will answer questions on their own and then debate where answer choices differ. Tests can be more challenging. Also, with less tests to grade, students get their work back much quicker and less class time is needed to “go over the test”. I use group assessments in my AP class and students often comment about how much they learn on test day.

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