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How to Turn Your Quizzes into Study Guides for Tests

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By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

If you’re in the habit of throwing away your quizzes when the teacher hands them back, stop immediately. 

Quizzes can be seriously valuable study resources – and yes, even the quizzes you bomb.

What you need to know is this: There’s a logical order to the types of work you do in a particular course leading up to a final exam.

  1. First, you do homework and classwork
  2. Next, you have a few quizzes on the material
  3. Then you have a test covering everything on the quizzes
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 multiple times throughout a course
  5. Finally, you have a final exam covering everything on your tests

What’s important to know is that each level of assessment feeds the next level, kind of like a food chain. So the homework and classwork feed the quizzes, the quizzes feed the tests, and the tests feed the final exam.

The image below does a better job of explaining this sequence.

In this blog post, I will show you how to turn your quizzes into study guides for tests. But this strategy only works if you keep all your quizzes (and don’t throw them away). So, I suggest starting where you’re at, and from this point forward, save all your quizzes – yes, even the ones with bad grades.

How to Turn Your Quizzes into Study Guides for Tests

Below is the step-by-step process for turning your quizzes into awesome study guides for your next test.

Step 1. Collect and organize all your quizzes as they’re handed back throughout a unit.

You can clip the quizzes together with a paper clip or store them in a simple folder.

Step 2. Review and correct all the wrong and incomplete answers.

Within one day of getting your quiz back, review each question you got wrong and try again. You not only want to get the right answer, but you want to figure out what you did wrong the first time. This step here is so, so important. For really challenging questions, you can even write yourself notes right on the test with additional details and explanations that will help you remember how to do that type of question when it shows up on a future test.

Step 3. Make one big practice test from all your quizzes.

About 5-7 days before your test, create a master practice test full of all the questions from your quizzes. You might have 2 quizzes or you might have 10 – it all depends on your teacher and how much content you cover in each unit.

In this tutorial, I teach you exactly how to make your own quizzes to study from using more than just a few old quizzes. But to make a master quiz from just your individual quizzes, follow these steps:

Step 4. Make your practice test digitally.

Google Docs works great. This will make it easier to rearrange the questions and print out multiple copies to take your practice test over and over again (which you should).

Step 5. Create the study guide.

Working with each of your quizzes one by one, add each question to your Google Doc (if that’s what you’re using). You can either copy the questions word-for-word, or you can vary up the phrasing as long as it’s essentially asking the same question.

3. Leave off any questions that you know for sure won’t be on the test. If you’re unsure, add them to be safe.

Step 6. IMPORTANT: Vary up the order of the questions as you add them to your master practice quiz.

This is an important step because it taps into the power of interleaving. Interleaving is an excellent study method because it forces you to answer questions without knowing what type of skill is required.

For example: If you’re making a master practice quiz for math, don’t put all the fraction questions together, followed by all the ratio questions together, etc. Instead, mix up the type of questions so that you practice figuring out what type of question you’re dealing with in addition to how to solve it.

Step 7. Print out multiple blank copies of your master practice quiz, and make an answer key out of one of them.

To make an answer key, use your real quizzes to fill in the right answers on one copy of your master practice quiz. Put this aside and use it to correct your work every time you take a practice quiz (step #8).

Step 8. Take the practice test.

Over the course of the next 5-7 days, sit down with one of your practice quizzes and try to answer as many questions as you can without looking at your notes. Print more blank copies if you run out. Each time after you’re done, correct your answers using the answer key you made in step #7.

Step 9. Repeat steps # 8 each day leading up to the test.

This is how to know if you’re truly ready for the test.

Next Steps: Turning Your Tests into Study Guides for Final Exams

You probably guessed it: Yes, you can also turn all your tests into a practice test (study guide) for your final exam. The process is the same:

  1. Save all your tests throughout a course.
  2. Every time you get a test back, correct wrong and incomplete answers.
  3. About 2 weeks before the final exam (note the longer prep time because final exams are more comprehensive than regular tests), create a study guide by combining all test questions into one master document.
  4. Print out multiple blank copies of your study guide/practice test and make an answer key from one of them.
  5. Take a practice test each day leading up to your final exam, correcting each test afterward and making sure you understand any questions you got wrong or left blank. 

Why Making a Study Guide from Past Quizzes Works

The reason turning your quizzes into study guides for tests (or turning tests into study guides for final exams) works so well is that it’s a form of active recall. Active recall is the most effective study method that exists. 

Remember: The only way to get questions right ON a test is to get those questions right BEFORE a test. Turning your quizzes into study guides/practice tests is the only way to know for sure if you’re ready for the real test.

The post How to Turn Your Quizzes into Study Guides for Tests appeared first on SchoolHabits.

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