Many educators believe that the best and most effective lesson plans are those which begin with the final assessment in mind. In other words, teachers should know what they want to test before creating their actual lesson content. A very important part of this lesson planning process should be creating pretests.
Pretests are given to students before a lesson or unit to assess what they do in fact already know. These tests reveal many gems to the savvy teacher.
Key Advantages of Pretests
- Pretests allow teachers to see if what is being covered in the lesson or unit is already mastered. For example, if you are teaching 9th grade geography, you might give a pretest to see how well students understand latitude and longitude. If they all know how to use these then the teacher can skip that lesson. If only a couple of students have a problem, then they can individualize their instruction to bring them up to speed. If the majority of students are struggling with the information then they can continue with the lesson.
- Pretests help measure true learning. By comparing pre- and post-tests, teachers can see what students actually learned from the lessons that were developed.
- Pretests can give students a preview of what will be expected of them. This helps students begin to focus on the key topics that will be covered.
- Pretests can help generate ideas for future lesson. Depending on the way the pretests are created, teachers might find knowledge gaps that they did not expect. Armed with this knowledge they can make changes to lessons to include further instruction and review.
As you write pretests remember their purpose. If you are going to allow students to skip lessons, you will want to create very thorough pretests. If you are using your pretest for comparison to post-tests, then you will want very similar (not the same) questions on both. If you are trying to find gaps in student knowledge, you will want to cover a broad range of topics. In other words, decide on your focus and how you will use the pretests before beginning their construction.
Pretests can be extremely effective tools and are an excellent way for teachers to grow in their field. By providing kids with pretests and using that information wisely, you can give students better and more individualized instruction.