Archive for March 11th, 2012

Anybody who has ever given an exam recognizes that students work at different speeds. One student may finish in 20 minutes while another might take 60 and, without doing any actual analysis, the amount of time one takes to complete an exam does not seem to be strongly correlated with the student’s grade. Because of this, I have never limited the amount of time that students are given to complete an exam. This semester, however, my class schedule necessitates time limits so that I can get to my next class on time.

This change has led to an increase in incomplete exams, but I’m not convinced that it has decreased exam scores. If a student does not know the material covered on an exam, extra time may increase the chance of the student having something written down but it may not increase the chance of that answer being correct. Students who know the material, on the other hand, may have to work faster than they would prefer but should still have plenty of time (one of my former students had a habit of taking an extra 10-15 minutes to proofread each exam answer before turning it in).

With these things in mind, I still don’t like strict time limits, if only because they probably increase the amount of stress students feel. For this semester, however, all I can do if students don’t feel like they had enough time is recommend that they study harder.


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