why i “leaked” my logarithms test

In the somewhat rushed lead-up to our unit test on logarithms in my Advanced Algebra II class, I realized I was asking students to study from an enormous corpus of practice material I’d provided. I could tell that this was overwhelming, so I got the idea to give the test to my students in advance.

Not the full test—just a redacted version:

I had dropped a hard copy in one student’s open backpack during a break, and then I made a big show of asking him to pull out the paper marked “top secret.” Then I was all, “ohmygoodness what’s that?!” and “Did I accidentally post a copy of the test to Google Classroom?” My students were thrilled. (I did make it clear that this was a one-time thing!)

Even though I had already provided a list of learning targets, I had two main goals by “leaking” the test itself:

  1. Reduce student anxiety by providing the parameters of the test (number of problems, layout, types of question prompts, etc.) very explicitly
  2. Focus students’ studying on the ideas I considered most important

This was a spur-of-the-moment idea, but definitely one I would use again under the right circumstances!

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