Paper Exams: It’s a Numbers Game

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Research conducted on behalf of TES has revealed shocking results. The research predicts with great accuracy how many words students must write to get a good grade in English exams.

English teachers up and down the country will now be able to accurately answer the age old exam question;

‘How much do I need to write?!’

Extremely long answers don’t seem to deliver the best results and students have been able to attain good results with relatively short answers. It has emerged for GCSE English essays that there is a base of around 700 words to be in the top percentiles. However after 700 words grades either remain the same or begin to diminish. The study cites an example of two students who wrote in excess of 1200 words but only achieved a grade C in the essay. This is contrasted by a considerable group of pupils who were awarded an A* having only written around 400 words. You don’t need to strain your wrist to get the bests grades. It really is quality rather than quantity.


The research also revealed an absolute minimum to grade at all with papers of less than 200 words all being graded U. There is also a grade B threshold of 300 words; no papers under 300 words managed to get higher than B. On average the group of student who do achieve A*- B  write slightly longer answers. High quality condensed answers seem to be favoured by examiners.

Even for the longest essays, the average mark achieved by candidates never reached the top A* grade boundary. The research concluded that the best strategy is to write two pages of A4, with clear and accurate paragraphs. This statistically gives the pupil the best chance of being in the top percentiles.

However beyond the 700 word threshold there is no real correlation between grades and words written.

It is only now that we are able to gain insights like this, perhaps because of the techno-phobia of schools and examining bodies. The reality is that many children can type faster than they can write. We inhibit the child’s ability to achieve the best possible grade because of the medium we force them to do it in. English teachers always say;

“Your hand writing doesn’t matter that much as long as the examiner can read it.”

Researcher argue that hand writing bares little representation of academic ability. You may have been shocked by your GP’s or even solicitors hand writing, but you wouldn’t think them incompetent or incapable. This is not the case however for examiners. Whilst the examiner will try to extract what the child has written, they can be forgiven for not trying as hard once they have marked 300 identical papers. The vast majority of professional writing is typed, every  position now requires a high level of computer literacy. Like it or not, handwriting will become more of a novelty, as we swap pen and paper for smart phones and laptops. We should all work hard to make paper a thing of the past, there is a certain irony to cutting down trees to write biology questions about trees.

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Online Assessment Creator

Now you can do your bit as well; why not set up class tests, quizzes and activities online. DesignaTest lets you set multiple choice and exam style questions and marks them automatically!


Generate Tests All Over The Globe

You can now generate online tests no matter where you are in the world. It is working wonders for developing countries.

Schools in the UK can help schools in the developing world by sharing their knowledge online. As we eek into an evermore globalised and connected world, the need for an international testing standard will only increase. A major problem for employers is that they now have job candidates from all over the world but struggle to assess the weight of an applicants qualifications.

One way to help the developing world is by sharing the bank of knowledge and resources we have in the west using new technologies. Some developing countries have standardised national exams, some do not, however it is now possible to share exams written by experts across the globe.

At DesignATest we have a test bank where teachers all around the globe can access exams written by renowned professionals. It also works in reverse in that teachers in developing countries can also share their exams. This offers insight into curriculum’s all around the world. It also allows teachers to generate online tests really quickly, and whit automatic marking their workload is halved.

The idea that a child could be doing the online test in London whilst at the same time a child could be sitting the same test in Nairobi is very exciting. As the internet finds it’s way to the remotest corners of the earth it is revolutionising education. Access to infinite information delivered in less than the blink of an eye with the input of keywords into Google. Young, old, rich and poor online learning continues to liberate people all around the world.

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We are in the infancy of something that is changing the world forever. It does however mean more competition in the workplace and it is important to prepare young people for the 21st century workplace. That is no longer a place of endless photocopying and handwritten documents. We’re all worried about AI taking over our jobs, why are we still insisting the bulk of education be done in analogue?

We don’t put ‘computer literacy’ as a skill on our CV’s it’s just expected for all professional positions. In this global market technological expertise is a bargaining chip.

The vast majority of staff in both Twitter and Facebook headquarters in San Francisco are not American. Tech companies struggle to recruit qualified people in the west. This is because of a reluctance to teach computing and internet based subjects.

Countries like India and China have simply surpassed the west in terms of technological expertise, and the clear focus on Mathematics in Asian education only compliments this.

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With DesignATest you can generate online tests, multiple choice quizzes  in minutes. You get access to a whole world of knowledge.

SATS Exams Cost The Tax Payer £44M a Year!

The new regime of SATS exams are costing the tax payer around £44m. The Department for Education (DfE) SATS spending has increased by 9% in just one year. Online exams can eradicate the cost of marking exams.
 The largest expense was £20.5 million on key stage 2 marking, according to the teachers organisation TES. They obtained the figures from the DfE through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The new SATS system was designed to compliment a tougher curriculum that was put in place from September 2015.

Ofqual, the exams regulator, remarked that the SATS in the 2015/2016 round were “unduly hard”.

Parents are up in arms about the reading segment of the English SAT; a pupil sitting the exam needs to pass all elements to be at an ‘acceptable standard’.

All whilst teachers unions are concerned about the new system and have threatened boycotts and strikes.

The National Teachers Union has said;

“The Sats fail to provide useful information to parents about how schools perform and don’t tell teachers anything useful to support individual pupils in their learning. Furthermore, the high-stakes nature of primary testing puts unnecessary pressure on pupils and education professionals.”

Staffing alone costs £10.8 million not including other essentials such as the professional skills tests for teachers.

Multiple Choice Test Online

We Can Cut Marking Costs by 100%!

A major part of the costs is down to the exams being paper based and the logistical nightmare of matching up classes to markers – who may very well be miles away.

SATS are extremely inefficient; like multiple choice sections where the tickboxes are simply crosschecked against a standard marking sheet.

Overlooked all too frequently is the availability of online exams, platforms even mark the tests automatically. If deployed on a large scale the Government could eradicate most of the logistical marking process.

Of course as soon as one suggests computer based examinations, schools and examining bodies begin to fret about cheating. Testing platforms by their online nature present new ways to get round the system; but no more than traditional testing.

Technology has surpassed these fears however given school networks can be easily restricted to produce a fair testing environment.

Online Exams Are The Future

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is transitioning to digital exam content by 2020. The Department for Education is  notoriously slow at adopting technology. There is a real disparity in the Scottish and English approach.

While we wait for the education to effectively enter the digital realm, there are platforms out there for class tests and quiz’s.

Furthermore at DesignATest we think teachers need a break from marking, our online test platform offers automatic grading.

You can easily create multiple -choice, short answer and exam style tests and get results instantly.

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Online Testing: Instant Learning

With students more interested in their phones than their books, it’s time to stop fighting the inevitable. Schools have frequently banned ‘electronic devices’ even  teachers can be seen having a cheeky scroll through their Facebook feeds during assembly. With unfathomable amounts of information in the palms of students, schools simply must find a way to take up some screen time and space.  The hostile environment towards new technology in schools will only harm pupils by not preparing them for a world where their lives will become ever more reliant on it.

There’s not a high school level question that cannot be answered by the internet, students can find the information far quick, more efficiently and more comprehensively. Schools however offer far more than just information, the also give an invaluable social education. As students now live a large fraction of their lives online, with a culture dominated by the internet, schools simply must find their way to the online space.

online school quiz

There are a number of methods and platforms already established for schools to reach students online. One such platform is DesignATest, this system offers a vast range of features designed to offer a tailored approach to education. You can create an online quiz that gets students engaged through the devices they treasure so much.

The winning formula for the DesignATest platform is the instant learning it provides. Students can be doing the class online quiz on their phone on the bus home from school.  Keeping them engaged with the things they have learned in class at home. Think of it like adding vegetables to their favourite food, they don’t notice they are learning…online quiz generator

There’s also no more; ‘I left it at home’, ‘the dog ate my homework’ or ‘I lost it’ as  there’s just no more excuses. Teachers can also communicate with parents on issues of concern. You can also measure academic progression over time with interactive graphs.

You’ll be able to reinforce the importance of deadlines, as well as prepare students for the expectations of professional life. The internet has penetrated industry and completely changed the workplace, yet schools continue to resist the inevitable. Companies increasingly are training and assessing their employees online, as well as tracking professional performance.

Simple drag and drop functionality means you can create online tests with ease. Universities have also begun adopting online assessments with most syllabuses having an industry specific information technology module.

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Online Tests to Communicate and Educate Together

For years the parents/teacher relationship involved a parents evening a couple of times a year and notes scribbled on paper with the child used as trusty messenger. As technology helps us advance in so many things it is now also starting to reach education with the internet being a tool with uncapped educational potential. What can it do then to bring teachers, parents and pupils closer together to achieve education fit for the 21st century? Well…

Online assessment is one of the best ways for schools, teachers, parents and pupils to track learning progression in a holistic unified way. There’s no more letters that don’t find their way to parents, they are notified of results instantly.  Teachers can pick up when the child is falling behind. Students can also monitor their own progress in real time without having to wait for teachers to mark their work, this instant gratification enhances their learning experience.

This collaborative approach to learning and assessment streamlines communication between parents and teachers. Based on academic monitoring you can strategise with the student to reach time measured goals. This way the student has clearly defined targets and knows exactly what is expected of them. Many schools have coupled this with a results and rewards system which drives achievement in subjects where students are particularly disengaged.

Teacher with student girl writing assignment

Efficient education needs to be the future of education especially as class sizes have steadily increased to breaking point. Technology enables teachers to deliver a one-on-one experience for each of the pupils in a class of 30 or more pupils. Assessing students with online tests also saves so much time that can be spent on refining the students skills. Teacher saves time with automatic marking, no more photocopying or spending precious class time reviewing the tests. Online test results are fed back immediately.

online tests

Schools are falling behind when it comes to adopting new technology for a generation to whom it matters most. Schools are full of students that have never known a world without the internet; they can ask Google a question and have it answered in a fraction of a second. Many schools are technophobic because of staff who shun technology in the fear they will not understand it. In reality most of the pupils will pick it up quicker than the teachers. Online test systems are designed to cater to all levels of technical knowledge with common sense functionality. Transitions from paper to online are seamless with an easy user interface.

DesignATest is one such system, completely based online and analyses students progress using hundreds of data points. Visualised in interactive charts and graphs results are clear and easy to understand. Communication is seamless and instant through the in-built email system and work together to reach clearly defined academic goals.

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Save Money & The Environment: Test Online

It’s time to create tests online; teachers have been churning out reams of photocopying each year having a devastating effect on the environment. Even as new technology charges on revolutionising the world; many schools are still using the old fashion multiple choice paper tests.

It is so wasteful: because multiple choice tests seldom fill up all the space on the paper there’s a lot of empty space causing you to use unnecessary sheets.  Secondly for the average class of 30 the amount of pages can become immense especially when you have to photocopy something like a past paper at 15 pages per pupil….

This will save you money in reduced photocopying, it will also free up teachers for other tasks given online tests mark themselves instantly. Teachers can also measure time taken to complete the test and other metrics to analyse the child’s progress.

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Another huge benefit is that it is a platform students actually engage with. When you pop a test on a class you hear sighs as you distribute the same old boring  paper tests. Pupils find online tests engaging given that they can get their results, and see how they are doing as they go along. This helps students do better in tests as it boosts their confidence as it releases ‘reward’ signals in their brain. 

Think of the waste cycle paper tests go through right from the point the tree is cut down. All the trucks that are needed to take the wood shavings to the processing plants, then a truck to stores, then to deliver the paper to your school, and to top it off a truck to take it as waste…

Environment online tests

But where to start? There’s lots of testing platforms but to get started you need a programme students, teachers and parents can interact with. Everyone who is responsible for the child can monitor their progress and identify areas of improvement all working together. That in mind you want something simple, free from technical issues and allows you to design tests easily.

The DesignATest platform is designed with all of this in mind. It has easy drag /drop test building features. You can track a child’s progress with easy to read charts and graphics. You also have the ability to set assessments for different classes, levels and abilities. With DesignaTest the tests mark themselves automatically and you can share results with parents instantly.

You also get access to a huge database of reviewed tests, created by experts in their field, that you can set for pupils in just a few clicks.


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