Preparing for today’s lesson: Today’s test will ask students to solve a wide variety of problems with a calculator. There is room on the test itself for students to show their work, but I always permit them to use some extra paper for scratch work. Since I will examine their work in order to award partial credit for incorrect answers, it is up to the students whether or not to turn this scratch work in with their test.
Please see the video, The Basic Skills Test for some more details on the nature of this test.
Beginning the test: As students enter, they are instructed that they will need a pencil, eraser, calculator and some scratch paper. No calculators are permitted on today’s test. As soon as desks are clear and everyone is present, hand out the test and remind the class that they have the full 45-minute period in which to complete it, but they will not have any additional time.
A quick note about calculators since not all of my students have graphing calculators: those who have graphing calculators may use them, those who don’t will need to make use of what they do have. All students have had the chance earlier in the year to “check out” a graphing calculator from the school, so everyone potentially has access, but I do not provide extra calculators for those who forget theirs or fail to take advantage of this opportunity.
I like to let the class know how much time is remaining a few times during the test so that they can pace themselves. Also, I am happy to answer any questions that help students to understand what they are being asked to do, but I never provide any help or hints regarding how to do it. Other than that, I just keep an eye on the students to make sure everyone’s keeping their eyes on their own work.