Elizabeth Gehrig By Elizabeth Gehrig • February 14, 2017

What is a Practice Exam and What Can it Do for Me?

You and the University share the same goal: for you to do well on your exams, and thereby your courses.

From blog articles, like this one, for example, to the Testing Resources page and exam study guides to low-stakes formative quizzes, you have a variety of resources to help you better review your course content and do well on your exams.

And now you have one more to add to your test-taking tool belt: the practice exam. A few of our online courses have practice exams now, and more will continue to roll out. Here’s what you can expect with this new resource and how you can use it to better prepare for your exams. 

What is a Practice Exam?

The practice exam is an alternate, ungraded version of the graded midterm or final exam in your course. The practice exam has the same format as the “real” exam, meaning that if your practice exam has 20 multiple-choice questions and four essay questions, so will your “real” exam. The practice exam looks and feels like the actual exam, so it is a good way to familiarize yourself with the test-taking experience.

More important, though, is the content: your practice exam covers similar material as what will be on the actual exam. Not exactly the same, naturally — you won’t see any of the same questions on the actual exam — but practice exam questions do cover the same distribution of chapters and are at a similar level of difficulty as the actual exam. You’ll get a clear idea of what will be expected of you when it’s time to take the actual exam. 

What Is the Difference Between a Practice Exam and a ‘Real’ Exam?

Practice exams are unproctored and don’t have restrictions on using your textbook. Your responses are not recorded in any database or gradebook. But you do get feedback at the end, so you’ll know which questions you got right and wrong, and you’ll know which chapters to focus on while you review. All of that is different from the real exam. 

You can take the practice exam as many times as you like. In some cases, you may see different questions each time you take it, providing you with an additional review of the content.

Where Can I Find My Course’s Practice Exam?

If you have a practice exam in your online course, you’ll find a link to it under the “Examinations” section of the course space. You can access it at any time during your course term. After you’ve studied for your exam, dedicate some time taking the practice test and making note of the feedback it gives you. Use the practice exam, the exam study guide and other resources available to you to improve your chances of doing well on your exam. When you use all the resources available to you to come at the test from all angles, you will know what to expect and feel more confident on exam day.

Elizabeth Gehrig

Written by Elizabeth Gehrig

Elizabeth Gehrig is a senior assessment development specialist in the Center for Learning and Technology. Passionate about high-stakes testing, her career spans more than 10 years in language testing, credit-by-exam and outcomes assessment. Email her at clt@tesu.edu.

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