Creating a final exam

Introduction

At a minimum, a semester final exam should involve at least a grammar and vocabulary test, focusing on discrete objectives covered during that semester, and an opportunity for students to express themselves in extended discourse.  These two types of testing formats can be exclusively oral, exclusively written or a combination of both, depending on the objectives pursued during the semester in question.

Testing focusing on other objectives, such as listening comprehension, reading comprehension, question response and oral reading can be found at the end of each of the ULAT units.  Depending on the time available for the testing process, teachers may elect to include those additional testing activities.  However, teachers cannot modify the contents of the ULAT’s unit tests and, therefore, they provide limited flexibility when it comes to making the contents of the tests correspond exactly to the specific lessons covered during that semester.  Consequently, for the purpose of this guide to final exam creation, we will look exclusively at the two more flexible types of testing mentioned in the paragraph above and which, existing in the form of PowerPoint presentations, can easily be tailored by the teacher to the specific lessons covered during that semester.

Grammar and Vocabulary Tests

Links to tests, video reviews and grading keys
  • Unit 1 Grammar and Vocabulary Test (Spanish)
  • Unit 1 Grammar and Vocabulary Test (French)
  • Unit 2 Grammar and Vocabulary Test (Spanish)
  • Unit 2 Grammar and Vocabulary Test (French)
  • Form of the test

    This type of test, though existing in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, is simply a more extended version of the type of testing found at the conclusion of many of the ULAT lessons.  It is a composite of all of the most important objectives found in its particular unit and, as do the individual lesson tests, requires the student to provide some sort of response to the image or images found on each slide.  Intended for a one-on-one testing situation, each slide in the PowerPoint presentation is timed so that, once the “Slide Show” view is selected, the test advances on its own at a pre-determined.  The teacher, however, can intervene, going backward or forward in the presentation by means of the keyboard’s arrow keys.

    Adjustments

    By following the links above, and after downloading and opening the master test, the following list contains the types of modifications that teachers can make to the test: 

    • Deleting material not covered during the semester – After going to the “Slide Sorter” view, teachers can select and delete specific slides or entire sections of the test whose content was not covered or which the teacher deems unsuitable.
    • Adding material – If the content covered during the semester spans more than one unit, the teacher can open the PowerPoint test for each unit, go to the “Slide Sorter” view within each presentation, select and copy the slides from one of the two units and paste them into the content of the second.
    • Changing the timing – Teachers can change the timing of the slides, giving students more or less time to respond, by going to the “Slide Sorter” view, selecting the particular slides to modify, clicking on the “Transitions” tab, ensuring that the box is checked next to “After:” and then adjusting the duration in seconds located to the right.
    Using the video review

    By following the links above, in addition to the master test, teachers can find a video that students can study in advance of the test.  The video contains all of the items found in the master test and, after providing a time of silence during which students can respond to each slide, provides the students with the correct response.  Teachers will want to copy the URL of the video review and place it somewhere that students can easily access it from home for individual study.

    Weighting the sections of the master test

    The downloadable master test attributes a set number of slides to each section or objective found in that unit.  Teachers have the freedom to delete a certain number of slides within particular sections if they feel that too much attention is being given to a particular objective or if they gave it less emphasis during the semester.

    Setting the duration of the test

    Once teachers have weighted the various sections of the test, making any modification they feel necessary to the number of slides within a particular section, they will need to modify the master test to make its various versions (see below) fit within the time period their school allows for the final exam.  They will also need to bear in mind the number of students they will have to test one-on-one during that time.  (Teachers will likely want to request permission to begin the testing process in couple of days in advance of teachers in other disciplines who do not need to test students one-on-one.)

    To set the appropriate duration of the test,  click on the links above to go to the page containing the master test.  There teachers can see the duration in seconds of the master test.  Teachers will then divide the total number of seconds found in the master test by the amount of seconds they can allot for the testing of each student to determine how many shorter versions of the test they will want to create.  For example, if a master test is 10 minutes long, and the teacher wants a test less than 3 minutes in duration, the teacher will create 4 versions of the test.  If the master test is 8 minutes and 45 seconds long, and the testing process must last no longer than 3 minutes, the teacher will create 3 versions of the test.

    Creating multiple versions of the test

    The test, as it is provided via the links above, contains far more slides than classroom teachers, having many students to test within a limited period of time, will have time for in a one-on-one testing situation.  Additionally, assuming that those waiting to be tested can see the test on the classroom screen and possibly overhear the responses of those being tested, it will be important to ensure that students not be able simply to memorize the responses to the test in advance.

    The following instructions will allow teachers to reduce the length of the test to a reasonable duration, create multiple versions of the test to avoid simple memorization and yet still ensure that all of the items found in the video review are included in at least one of the forms of the test:

    1. Download the master test or tests corresponding to the content of the exam.  Name it “ExamA” and place it within a folder entitled “First Semester Exam” or “Second Semester Exam”, etc.
    2. Make any of the modifications to the test suggested in the “Adjustments” section above.  At this point, do not be concerned about the duration of the test.
    3. (For the purpose of this explanation, we will assume the teacher has decided that he or she wants a total of four versions of the test.  See the section above entitled “Creating multiple versions of the test” to understand how to determine the number of versions to create.)

    4. Copy the file and make three additional files within the same folder, renaming them as “ExamB”, “ExamC” and “ExamD”. (For the purpose of this explanation, we will assume the teacher has decided that he or she wants a total of four versions of the test.
    5. Open “ExamA”, go to the “Slide Sorter” view and, ignoring the slide introducing the section’s topic (i.e., “Present Simple Verb Conjugation”) select all of the slides within that section.
    6. Once they are all selected, deselect every fourth slide (i.e., numbers 2, 6, 10, 14, etc.). 
    7. Right-mouse click on one of the slides that remains selected and choose “Delete Slide”.  This will delete 3/4 of the slides within that section.
    8. Repeat steps 4 through 6 within each of the remaining sections of the test, saving your work as you complete each section.
    9. Repeat steps 4 through 7 within each of the three remaining versions of the test.  However, before deleting any slides in ExamB, whereas you will select all of the slides in a particular section and then deselect every fourth slide as you did in ExamA, you will want to ensure that you are not deselecting the same slides as you did in ExamA.  In other words, rather than deselecting numbers 2, 6, 10, 14, etc., you will instead deselect numbers 3, 7, 11, 15, etc. in ExamB before deleting the selected slides.  Obviously, for ExamC you will deselect numbers 4, 8, 12, 16, etc. and for ExamD you will deselect numbers 5, 9, 13, 17, etc.
    10. You now have four distinct versions of the test.  Together they comprise the totality of the items in the master test. 

    As you may by now have surmised, in creating these four versions, you have also determined the duration of the test.  By adding up the seconds for each slide in a particular version of the test, you will know how long this test will take to administer.  

    Extended Speech

    Introduction

    The second of the minimum necessary forms of final exam testing is extended speech.  This type of test obliges students to speak, without access to any written notes and for a predetermined duration, about topics within the scope of the grammar and vocabulary already learned.

    It should be remembered that the evaluation of an extended talk should not devolve into a measurement of their “sang froid”, that is, into a test of their ability to stay calm and to remember under pressure the comments that they had purposed to say prior to the test.  Teachers should merely be measuring their students’ ability to express themselves in an uninterrupted format.

    Therefore, it is necessary to have some device in place to help students not “freeze up”.  The ULAT proposes having a minimum of images visible for the students, either on the classroom screen or on a sheet of paper, to provide students with a logical structure to their comments and to remind them while they speak of topics which they should be capable to address. 

    Links to topics, visuals and an evaluation guide
    Administering the extended speech test
    1. In the days prior to their extended speech, inform students of the duration of their talk.
    2. One class period before they are to give their talk, provide them with a hard copy of the images to which they will have access as they speak and perform a sample talk of your own to illustrate the meaning of each image.
    3. On the day of their presentation, as students sit down to be evaluated, verify that they do not have in their possession any written notes to consult as they speak.
    4. Display on the classroom screen the PowerPoint presentation slide(s) containing the representative images.
    5. As the student speaks, if multiple slides exist on which the images are found, advance the presentation to the next slide once it is apparent that students have exhausted their comments on the ones which are visible.
    Tips for the day of testing
    • Students should not know prior to the testing period which student will be tested first although, to save time, a numerical order should be established, likely on the basis of the seating chart.  To determine which student will be tested first, teachers can write on piece of paper, or on the board behind the classroom screen a number between 1 and 30.  Then they can ask a random class member to pick a number between 1 and 30.  After hearing the number, teachers can reveal the number they had written down, add the two numbers together and then count off that many seats to determine who will go first.  For example, in a class of 25 students, if the teacher wrote down the hidden number 9, and the random student selected 11, as the total is 20, this means that the student in seat number 20 will be tested first.  If the teacher had written down 16 and the random student had selected 19, then the total of 35 would indicate that, going a second time through he order of 25 students, the student in seat number 10 would be selected to go first.  This may seem complicated but, in such a high stakes situation as a final exam, students must see the selection process as being totally random and fair, especially if the testing has to extend on to a second day.
    • To ensure silence during the testing process, particularly with those students that have already finished their testing for the day, either provide the students with study materials for the next stage of their studies or encourage them to bring study materials from other classes.
    • Prior to the students entering the classroom, be sure to have all versions of the test already open on your computer, and keep them open during the testing session, so that you can rapidly move from one version to another as each new student sits down to be tested.
    • Some students will be so well prepared for the exam that they will be able to respond to the slides of their grammar and vocabulary test faster than the time allotted for their response.  In that case, to save time, use the arrow keys on the keyboard to advance to the next slide, instead of waiting for the presentations timing mechanism to make the change.
    • The same applies when students are making their extended speech.  As a time-saving measure, cut them off once they have accumulated enough points to attain 100% for fluency.  (Click on one of the links above to the extended speech pages for an explanation of how points for fluency are attributed.)