Function and Importance of Pre and Post Tests
Second Grade Students in Thailand Taking a Test
What Are Pre and Post Tests?
For three years I used pre and post tests as assessment tools for measuring the preparedness and performance of my EFL students. In addition to measuring how much students have improved in one semester of study, the pre/post-test can be a valuable diagnostic tool for more effective teaching.
A pre/post-test by design covers all of the topics which a student will be studying during a semester. While taking the pre-test at the beginning of a semester, students are not expected to know the answers to all of the questions; however, they should be expected to utilize previous knowledge to predict rational answers. When taking the same test called a post-test at the end of a semester, students should be expected to answer more questions correctly based on an increase in knowledge and understanding.
A pre/post-test should be designed to measure the amount of learning a student has acquired in a specific subject. To do this, questions concerning all of the topics covered during a semester must appear on the test. When grading the tests, the teacher assigns a numerical score to both the pre-test and the post-test. To demonstrate that student progress has been made during a given semester, the post-test score should be higher than the pre-test score.
Pre and Post Test
How Can a Pre and Post Test Be Used as a Teacher Diagnostic Tool?
A pre/post-test functions as a teacher diagnostic tool in the following five ways:
1. It Identifies the Very Weak Students in a Class:
Every time I grade a pre-test I am able to get a fairly good idea about the weak students in my class. In most cases, their scores are close to the bottom of the class. Many of these weak students don't even finish answering all of the questions on the test. When these same students take the post-test, the improvement in their scores over the pre-test is much less than other students.
2. It Identifies the strongest students in a class:
The students scoring more than 80 percent on the pre-test usually turn out to be the best students in my class. I have had a few pupils score 95 or above, and in most cases, they have demonstrated gifted and talented characteristics.
3. It identifies topics which the students already know:
If 75 - 80 percent of the students score above 80 on a certain topic, this would indicate that most of the students already know the subject matter. In fact, I once had a class in which 60 percent of the students scored more than 75 on the pre-test.
4. It identifies topics which the students don't know:
I had just finished giving pre-tests to EFL students who were taking my reading and writing course. More than 70 percent of the students scored less than 50 on the mechanics of writing. This included capitalization, spelling, punctuation, verb tense usage, and other grammatical errors. This clearly identified a topic which the students still didn't know.
5. It identifies topics which the students have not learned:
in comparing pre-test and post-test scores, a much higher post-test score should indicate that a student has learned certain topics. If the scores are about the same, or if the post-test score is lower than the pre-test score, in all indications this measures that topics were not learned in the course.
Benefits of a Pre and Post Test
How Can a Pre and Post Test Be Used For More Effective Teaching?
Pre/Post tests can be used for more effective teaching in the following three ways:
1. Weak Students Should Be Given Remedial Instruction:
After the pre-test identifies the weak students in class, it is the teacher's responsibility to give extra remedial instruction. For example, if a student is not reading at the fifth-grade level as measured by a post-test given at the end of fourth grade, the teacher should find instructional materials at a lower grade level. A dedicated teacher would then find time during his lunch hour or breaks during the day to give extra individual help to the student. The teacher would also encourage the student's parents to assist with remedial tutoring.
2. The Strong Or Gifted Students Must Be Given Extra Challenging Materials:
After the strong or gifted and talented students are identified through a pre-test, it is the teacher's duty to give these students extra challenging materials. My school in Thailand does not have a special program or class for the gifted and talented. All students, even the ones with special education needs, are streamlined into one class. This being the case, it is even more important for the teacher to make sure the student works up to his or her ability. If this is not done, the student will become bored and maybe even present discipline problems.
3. Schemes of Work and Lesson Plans Should Be Revised:
Most teachers draw up a semester scheme of work and individual class lesson plans well before the first day of class. The pre-test, however, is not given until the first week of class. If the results of the pre-test indicate that most students know a topic of instruction very well, a good teacher will be flexible and revise his scheme of work. The teacher would probably arrange to spend less time on the topic known very well, and he would most certainly arrange to spend more time on a topic which the students have no knowledge or understanding. If the post-test for a previous class showed that most students did not learn a topic, a wise teacher would revise his teaching method and perhaps use different teaching materials for the next class he teaches.
Pre/Post tests are a necessary teacher diagnostic tool for measuring the learning of EFL and other students. Teachers must remember to use them as a diagnostic instrument so that teaching can be more effective.
Function of a Pre and Post Test
What is the most important function of a pre and post test?
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© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn