General Question

gorillapaws's avatar

Why are tests timed? Is it a more accurate assesment of a student's knowlege?

Asked by gorillapaws (24938points) March 9th, 2020

What are the benefits of adding a time pressure variable to test-taking? Isn’t the purpose of a test to asses the student’s mastery of the material? Should it then matter if it takes the student a long or short time to complete the test as long as the answers are correct?

Is there any data that supports the idea that adding a time pressure dimension improves the accuracy of measuring a student’s knowledge than not having it?

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21 Answers

snowberry's avatar

Maybe but certainly not for everybody. Some people absolutely do not score well when under the pressure of a time limit. For those people a timed test would not be accurate at all.

raum's avatar

Processing speed.
And consistent variables.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Not just processing speed @raum but showing you know the subject matter “cold”.

Zaku's avatar

Like much of the US school system, a lot of it is judgemental performance evaluation with the prejudices of industry and military servant needs. And, wanting to drum in subservience and acceptance to being evaluated that way.

zenvelo's avatar

Most tests are not timed other than the allotted class or exam period. But even then, if one knows the subject, one can expound on a topic within the given hour or two hours. Writing 30 blue book pages in two hours on advanced macroeconomics was
.032

In aptitude tests (like the SAT), the time component is a critical differentiator; it validates those with the most aptitude at applying knowledge rapidly.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Are you telling me @zaku the proletariat needs to be kept in tow?? And timed tests is how it is done!

Asking for a friend

gorillapaws's avatar

@Tropical_Willie ”...showing you know the subject matter ‘cold’.”

Isn’t it possible for person A to know the material “cold”—way better than person B, but read and write his answer slower? In that case isn’t the timed test more of a measure of reading/writing speed and not of the material?

I mean if someone was engineering the airbag in my car, I’d rather have the people who took an extra 5 minutes on the test and got a perfect score than the ones who raced through it and got a 95%... I feel that way about most professions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think, in general, they don’t have all the time in the world to finish the test. They have that one hour that class is in session. I think it’s “timed” so that the students are aware of the time constraint. Any questions that go unanswered are counted as wrong.

zenvelo's avatar

@gorillapaws Except teh person who can formulate a response and answer a question quickly also has to time to review answers before finishing and submitting. The tortoise who takes a long time to answer correctly does not get a chance to double check the work.

gorillapaws's avatar

@zenvelo Sorry for being unclear. What I mean is I would generally rather have person A than person B because if both are given infinite time, person A will have more correct answers, even if they’re slower.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@gorillapaws “B” is better at taking tests “A” is slower, if “B” completees the test goes home a takes a nap and comes back and takes a second test while “A” is still on the first one. “B“is still better. Your assumption slower is better just doesn’t make sense “A” is takes longer . . . .

Patty_Melt's avatar

The reason the tests are timed is to be sure the same level of difficulty is presented in Tennessee, as in Oregon. Same questions, same amount of time.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Tropical_Willie “Your assumption slower is better just doesn’t make sense”

I’m not saying slower is better…

I was saying IF person A happens to be slower and better, then person B, I’d rather have person A for a lot of tasks than person B. I’m not saying that all slower people are always better than faster ones…

@Patty_Melt ”...same level of difficulty…”

What difficulty are they measuring? wouldn’t it be equally as difficult if you allowed people in Tennessee and Oregon as much time as they wanted to answer?

Patty_Melt's avatar

No. It would not be the same.

janbb's avatar

Generally, students who have a learning disability of some kind can qualify for untimed tests.

Personally, I would prefer right now to have a scientist who can find the vaccine both accurately and quickly!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes mam peguin ;>) but I think it will be July 4th 2021 !

JLeslie's avatar

Well, I remember when my sister was very little, maybe 1st grade, the teacher realized my sister was counting her fingers and lines on paper, and not really memorizing math at all, because she was taking long to complete her tests. She was getting the answers correct, but really wasn’t quite on level in how she was processing the work. The time was a clue for the teacher to watch her. My sister caught right up to grade level eventually.

Most tests weren’t timed when I was in school. The only tests that I remember were the SAT’s and tests I have taken for applying for a job. I guess both are seeing how you can budget your time, especially for a workplace. You need to be able to think fast enough, within reason. Moreover, cheating can take time or take no time. If I look up words I don’t know that will take more time to take the test. If I stole the answer sheet, that would take almost no time to answer, but I think it has more to do with what you know cold, rather than stealing an answer sheet. I’ve seen a lot of the tests my husband had to take and they are times and some of it is math, and not just 2 plus 2, and some is vocabulary, and not 8th grade vocabulary. You have to be able to keep up with the other executives in the company, and to be able to do the job at the work level expected. As a side note, it’s interesting to see how my husband answers, because especially some of the personality trait answers I would answer differently for myself than his answers for himself, and I don’t always guess right what he will answer for himself either. His math is always faster than I expect also. Maybe he uses math more at work than I realize. It is shocking how much I have forgotten. LOL.

Sagacious's avatar

Overall, in education we wish to fill students’ brains with knowledge and by timing tests and exercises help train and increase young brains’ ability for rapid recall.

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