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Patrick O’Malley: More Testing, More Learning Essay

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Updated: Aug 24th, 2021

It is not a secret that the majority of students prefer not to open their textbooks to study until the last two days before the term exam. Every student understands the importance of the term exam, however, it is hardly possible to learn the course material in two days. Patrick O’Malley in his article “More Testing, More Learning” hypothesizes that frequent exams, for example, once a week, motivate students to learn more. As the result, students have to open textbooks regularly and devote more time to studying. Moreover, frequent exams reduce the stress associated with the final exam and make students more confident in their knowledge.

Taking into account that very few professors prefer frequent exams to term exams, there are several alternatives. Nevertheless, O’Malley notes that students need the motivation to study regularly and nothing works like an exam.

Frequent exams give professors an opportunity to provide timely feedback to students on how well they are doing. Exams are always stressful. Frequent feedbacks serve two purposes:

  1. to give a professor an opportunity to evaluate the gained knowledge of the students
  2. to give students a chance to check their understanding of the material. As O’Malley argues, frequent exams and timely feedback motivate students to perform better on major exams and projects.

I agree with O’Malley that professors should give in-class tests after each unit or focus of study. Once the chapter, for example, is read by students and explained by a professor, the understanding of the material should be checked. Frequent feedback is the only way to give every student an individual assessment of his or her knowledge.

Frequent exams motivate students to learn better and devote more time to studying. It is not a mere assumption of O’Malley. On the contrary, O’Malley uses the results of the research conducted at the University of Vermont and referred to four reliable publications to support the points made throughout the article. In particular, O’Malley uses the citation from the Harvard study noting that multiple exams encourage students to improve their study habits.

Students have to learn a lot in the typical course and frequent study is highly beneficial for them. Without proper motivation, students will not develop regular learning habits. O’Malley’s arguments are not assumptions because every point he makes is supported with evidence from a reliable source.

Finally, alternatives to frequent exams do benefit the students, however, frequent exams result in better learning and greater confidence about the course. Professors resist frequent exams because they think that regular testing creates too many problems. Implementing a program that would improve study skills and helping students prepare for midterm and exam by providing sets of questions are beneficial for students and encourage reading and learning. Undoubtedly, it is hard to reject the idea that professors spend a lot of time reading and grading frequent exams. Nevertheless, enhanced understanding of the materials and improved grades on final exams are worthy investments of the professor’s time.

In conclusion, O’Malley provides a well-argued overview of the frequent exams’ benefits. He puts forward strong arguments supported with reliable evidence and references to studies. Frequent exams enhance learning habits, generate better grades, and reduce exam-related stress. Alternatives to frequent exams may motivate the students to learn more, however, frequent exams are found to be the most effective in improving their studying habits.

There is no overgeneralization or overstatement in the article. On the contrary, all points are clear and easy to understand. Professors should consider giving exams more frequently if they want to help their students study more.

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