The 15-Second Rule of Test-Taking

The 15-Second Rule of Test-Taking

Have you ever seen students start checking out quiz questions before they’ve even read the first sentence of a reading assignment? Do you think it makes a difference in their scores?

View of when students open an article:

View of when students click to open the quiz:

We know that students often peek at the quiz items before they read the entire article. We decided to find out whether — for better or worse — it makes a difference in their overall quiz scores.

overalldist2
overalldist2

First of all, we wanted to see just how many students are opening the quiz right away. The chart above highlights how many minutes pass before a student opens the quiz. Once students open the quiz, they can view and respond to all quiz questions. For all completed quizzes from this school year, 61 percent of students opened the quiz panel within the first minute of viewing the article.

The 15-Second Rule

Next, we observed an interesting phenomenon – 72 percent of students who opened the quiz panel within the first minute, opened it within the first 15 seconds. This means, in nearly half of all quizzes taken this school year, the students opened the quiz within the first 15 seconds.

overalldist1
overalldist1

Some students took more time to open the quiz, but we wanted to know: How did students who waited more than 15 seconds compare to students who opened the quiz right away?

We took our active students and divided their scores into three categories based on quiz performance:

  •    Highest Level: Quizzes with a score of 70% or above
  •    Medium Level: Quizzes with a score between 50% and 69%
  •    Lowest Level: Quizzes with a score below 50%

For example:

We looked at students who spent 15 seconds or less on their worst quizzes and then looked at those same students to see how much time they spent on their best quizzes. We found that 65 percent of students who spent 15 seconds or less on their worst scored quizzes, spent more than 15 seconds on their quizzes with high scores. On average, students spent 8 seconds on the article before opening the quiz on their worst quizzes. Conversely, students spent 50 seconds, on average, on the article before opening the quiz on their best quizzes.

Teachers – have you found this to be true for your class? Tweet us @Newsela, we’d love your insight.

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