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Bigger Pictures: The Unexamined Exam is Not Worth Hiding

Hand fill out exam sheet

“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
~ Mark Twain

Ever gotten back a midterm, peeked at the grade and stuffed it away somewhere dark, never to look at it again?

There are lots of reasons for not confronting the bad exam, not the least being embarrassment – you know, the whole, “But I don’t get grades like this, other people do.” It can come as quite a shock to the system. So hiding that nasty assessment point in a folder or in the back of a notebook is perfectly understandable.

It’s also a missed opportunity.

Let’s face it, basking in the comforting glow of a great exam grade feels all kinds of terrific. Good grades not only confirm our brilliance, but also reassure us that The Plan, in all its glory, is moving along, right on schedule. A bad exam grade can send us into a downward spiral of catastrophic fantasy, where we take this one grade as confirmation not only of our obvious imbecility, but that Dear Old Penn didn’t just make a mistake in accepting us, but should have never even allowed us on that pre-application campus tour. Indulging in this type of logical fallacy may feel cathartic, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Once again, missed opportunity.

Just remember this: Unless you goose-egged the exam, you did something right, and that’s what we like to call a basis for improvement.

WARNING: Shameless institutional promotion to follow.

The folks at your learning center can help you with all this. We call it Exam Analysis. All you have to do is exhume the offensive exam from its deep, dark hidey-hole of shame and make an appointment with one of our friendly non-judgmental learning instructors. And then? And then together we’ll question the living daylights out of your exam. What questions specifically? There are too many possible questions of a reflective nature to go into, and we simply haven’t the space. We’d have to consider the discipline, the course, the format of the exam, the nature of preparation, the class resources, and so on and so forth.

Staff Blogger: Pete Kimchuk

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