Tests: does Oakton really have it figured out?

A look into how different testing styles effect the learning of students

Courtney Te, Editorial Board, Publicity Manager

   Oakton prides itself on its unique testing system that is unseen anywhere else in Fairfax county. From standardized in-class testing to group testing to take home tests, Oakton has managed to explore each option to figure out what works best for students. That being said, what are the pros and cons of each? Does taking a group test in honors math classes really benefit students throughout the year? Has Oakton’s unique teaching style actually produced positive results?

In-class individual testing

   The oldest, and therefore most used testing method in Oakton high school is in-class tests. It forces students to really, truly study the material because it’s all up to you what grade you get. There’s no reliance on others (unless you’re a cheater, in which we would encourage you reevaluate your priorities). It’s also the most nerve-wracking of the three, especially to those with testing anxiety and fear the possibility of failing miserably. While this test method does require more preparation, time, and work, the benefit is that you’ll manage to learn the material that you’ll need to know in the future, instead of attempting to go through the year based on luck, or the fact that you’re a decent guesser. Individual testing comes into question, though, through the retake policy at Oakton. Even if you absolutely flunk the test the first time around, most teachers offer retakes that replaces the first. There’s usually a large gap between the first and second time students are able to take the test, allowing more time to study that the average student tends to not utilized fully. Some students go so far as to question what’s the point of studying for tests if you can just retake it? The counter argument is that it’ll put you behind schedule in classes. Teachers don’t wait for students who retake, the class will continue to learn new material while you’re stuck still reviewing old units.

Group tests

   Group tests are most prevalent if you’re taking an honors math class, starting from Algebra 2. The policy was implemented last school year, where students will first take a harder form of the test with peers. It’s meant to stimulate collaboration and the ability to use basic concepts and apply it to complex problems. The reality of the situation, though, is that it provides a free ride for students who don’t feel like participating as every member of the group gets the same grade. Group tests are also replaced if students do better on the individual test, which causes some students to care even less about the test. So basically, if you have a group of hardworking individuals, you’ll be fine. If you’re the only one in your group that is willing to try, then that’s a completely different story.

Take-home tests

   Probably the most rare form of testing is take-home tests, and it’s for a valid reason. Without supervision, students are liable to search up answers or copy answers from a friend without even glancing at their notes like they’re supposed to. While students are warned that cheating will be not be tolerated, it’s not like the school will search through personal texts and messages in the hope that they’ll catch you and report you to the honor council. Truthfully, there’s not much that is beneficial to a take-home test, and it’s generally only used when teachers are running out of class time to provide an in-class test.