Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Test banks challenge professors

Test banks, which store old copies of tests for students to reference while studying, can be a valuable resource. However, some professors and administrators frown upon the practice, and whether or not it is ethical to use a teacher’s old test to study remains questionable. Depending on who you ask, it can either be considered cheating or making full use of available resources.

Allison Montgomery, the outgoing Student Government Association Vice President for Academic Affairs, said a test bank of this kind was at one time in use in the SGA, but now the tests in the bank are so outdated that they are of little use to students.

“We have a small test bank from years past, but it has not been in use,” Montgomery said. “We don’t lend any tests or give any out to students.”

Montgomery said one of the main problems with test banks is that professors have to change the questions frequently in order to be fair to all students.

(See also “High-stakes testing must end, we are more than scores“)

“You can only rewrite a test so many times before the questions don’t make any sense,” Montgomery said.

She said if faculty agreed, the SGA would be willing to reinstate the use of test banks.

Many professors don’t even hand their tests back to students after they have been graded, for the sole purpose of keeping them out of such banks. Provost Joe Benson said this is the best way for teachers to assure their students are learning the material, as opposed to memorizing answers until the test is over. Benson stressed the importance of attending class and taking notes.

“The idea that test banks will give you the answer is inaccurate because the tests are changed every semester,” Benson said. “The last thing we want to encourage students to do is memorize answers instead of learning the material.”

Benson said if a professor decides to hand the tests back to students after they have been graded, there is an understanding that students will do what they please with them.

(See also “Time management essential for college success“)

“You have some faculty that feel passing the test back is something that helps the student learn,” Benson said. “If the faculty gives it back, he or she should understand that it is out there and students are looking at it.”

Daniel Riches, an assistant professor in the department of history, prefers not to hand his tests back to students in order to avoid them ending up in banks. He said studying from old tests is no substitute for attending class and retaining the information being taught.

“Beyond any question, it’s an effort to cheat the system,” Riches said. “It’s not a class in exam taking; it’s a class in learning.”

Riches said when students rely on old tests in order to study, they are taking the value out of the learning experience, and making the class about memorizing facts.

Jessica Allen, a psychology professor, also holds on to her tests after they have been graded. She said using past tests to study means you are only learning for the test.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my tests in a bank,” she said.

Allen said that though the use of test banks is of concern to her, she is more concerned with class notes being stored in banks. She believes that using notes from a lecture that you didn’t attend limits a student’s learning.

Instead of using test banks, Allen said students should make use of the textbooks and resources provided by professors and that there is no better resource than attending class in order to retain the information.

(See also “Truth, integrity essential in the pursuit of societal greatness“)

More to Discover