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In theory a test can be an excellent assessment task and devoid of all academic issues.  We like to think it as a pure moment; a student walks into a class, answers the questions the best they can and then walks away.  Thus, leaving a true insight into the ability of the students’ ability to use the tools they have learnt.  Furthermore, a test can act as excellent piece of formative assessment if the students are given the opportunity for a supported review.  With these honest aspirations I want to consider some of issues relating to academic honesty which need to be considered for this to be a truly fair assessment tool.

Please note that for this blog post I am considering a test which a student might sit at the end of a unit.  I am purposely avoiding the issues related to nationalized testing – such as exam style bias, or manipulation by teachers due to a range of outside pressures.  I am also not advocating this as the only suitable assessment task – I think it is one of many assessment tools which I accept some students perform better with than others.

So with my caveat out of the way here is my initial list of issues that need to be considered by both the teacher and the school institution:


Description Solution
Institutional test history When used as a formative tool it means that a test gets given to the student community and this becomes a reference for future generations of students completing this unit. 1)      As a teacher we need to revisit the test we set each time and make adjustments

2)      Only use as a summative tool – which to me is an educational failing.

Different test times When timetabling causes tests to be held at different times it means that those students who take the test first can provide an insight to those taking the test later. 1)      Set the timetable with an opportunity to have at least one shared period (this might put another subject out once in a while but what goes around should come around for them also)

2)      Set a different test for every class – which to me would not help the teachers with their work-life balance

Oh no I have missed the test due to…. Student misses the test so completes it later hence benefitting from the shared insight of other students 1)      Set one catch-up test which has been suitable adjusted and informs all students that this is the only other opportunity to complete this assessment.

2)       There should be other chances to test students during the year

Crib sheets Secret additional notes brought into the test
  1. Set a test which is based on application of knowledge and not recollection e.g. give them all the formulas they need
  2. Consistent rules relating to students being caught cheating in this manner
The useful toilet break A well placed toilet break provides an opportunity for a student to use their phone to access a world of information School rule that you cannot go to the bathroom until you have finished the test, unless you are accompanied


I mentioned earlier this was my initial list because I am hoping this blog post will provide an opportunity for further issues and solutions to be voiced.  So please do add comments.