A cheating realisation

Thanks to my students cheating, I had a realisation about the way I’ll be administering vocabulary tests from now on.

I noticed that a lot of my lower-level students were cheating by just clicking through the answers of the test I gave them, which in the particular test I use gives highly elevated scores if you do so (the test is designed to be done properly, there’s a ‘I don’t understand’ function that they weren’t using).

It’s hard to see how a student who got less than 50% on a listening / pronunciation test can score two times higher in vocabulary than someone who got 100% in the same test.

I should have figured that they would do that though. They’re not the most motivated bunch and they are forced into learning English. Poor kids. Now they’re just wasting their and my time.

I have a vocabulary book called 4000 essential English words, which is really good if you’re learning English (check out my page on vocabulary). I used to take items strictly from there to test my students on, and that worked well enough.

But I didn’t want students to just remember those words, I wanted to give them an idea of progress by using a vocabulary levels test at the start and end of a course, and comparing the results.

I thought this was working well. It was definitely working in my higher level classes (which a lot of the time the only difference between the two is attitude, rather than aptitude).

But I just had the realisation that no, I do actually want the students to remember just those words. For now at least. Remembering just those words should give them a foundation to work from, precisely because the textbook is so well designed to only use the most useful vocabulary.

So I’m going to make another two tests all from the most common 1,000 English vocabulary (which I think I have somewhere already), and use that instead from now on.

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