After the Exam – Follow-Up Strategies

Taking responsibility for your education requires you to develop and hone your feedback solicitation skills. With regard to quizzes and exams, this happens once the instructor has graded the quiz or exam and the paper has been returned to you. A single grade at the top of a page is not sufficient feedback; instead you should make it a priority to sit down with your graded quiz or exam in order to benefit from feedback already given and to determine what additional questions may be asked in a follow-up meeting with your instructor.

When an instructor returns an exam, take the time to note what types of questions received good scores as well as those questions you missed. Note the subject matter of the questions as well; were there problems with question content, format, or both? Did the phrasing or format of a certain question help with content that you missed elsewhere on the exam. Taking the time to note the types of questions that are difficult can help you better develop your studying and review strategies for the next exam.

Many instructors take the time to correct or provide written feedback regarding wrong answers; as a student, you should take the time to read this feedback and examine the corrections provided. If an instructor provides a page of solutions, take the time to rework the exam questions alongside the solutions. This provides both a visual and kinesthetic review of the material so that you better understand what you missed before the material comes up again, either as a part of a midterm or final exam, or as necessary structure for new information in the next unit of material covered in the class.

If you need more time with the instructor to go over feedback given on the exam, make an appointment and prepare a list of questions. While it may be acceptable in class to ask about how partial credit was handled or how the class did as a whole, it can be inappropriate to ask about details specific to your exam while in class. Catching the instructor after class may also backfire, as the instructor may not have the time or resources to best address your questions. Making an appointment and coming prepared with concerns about your exams will provide you with the best caliber of feedback.

If you can’t meet with your instructor or a GSA to go over the exam, consider making an appointment with a tutor at the Academic Support Center or setting up a collaborative learning team to go over the exam. With a tutor, you can rework the problems and compare the exam with homework or notes in a less formal atmosphere. Working with a collaborative learning team lets you see how other members approached the same exam and give you insight regarding the effectiveness of your notes and study materials compared to those of your classmates.

Finally, save all of your quizzes and exams, no matter how awful the grade. Use the exams as study material for midterms and finals, and keep track of your grades so that you are aware of your progress in the class. The worst thing you can do after a poor exam is throw it away and pretend that it never happened in the first place.

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