Friday, September 30, 2005

The Re-Test-ers

I don't know what is so appealing about re-tests (a make-up test given to a student who, for some reason, missed the actual test) - I seriously don't. I make it very clear at the beginning of each new semester, and reiterate prior to each test, that a re-test, if given, would be more difficult to score compared to the actual test, because it consists of tougher questions, and usually, covers a wider syllabus.

And yet - for every test, from the beginning of my teaching career until now, for average-sized classes, there are bound to be those who'd strive to go for the re-tests! They'd approach me, some sheepishly, some otherwise, and casually mention "I missed the test", hoping I'd be a simpleton enough to reply with "So, when would you like to have your re-test?" Well, not me! I'd say, in a voice not lacking of sarcasm, "So....?" And then, where previously the students did not offer to explain why they missed their test, now, realising that I won't be giving re-tests freely as they'd hoped, they'd be brimming with "reasons"! They'd buy MCs, bring pathetic "explanation" letters from "parents" which they wrote and signed by themselves which their poor parents probably have no knowledge of, and tell long, lame stories of how they came about missing the class test. I'd been told this in my face - "What do you require? Do you want me to give you an MC? Or a letter from my mother?" What - am I now placing an order? Am I choosing the kind of evidence I would like to see for the excuse he'd given me? Jo March would say, "Christopher Columbus!"

I do not deny that there are of course, genuine cases where the poor student really fell sick on the day the class test is given - but I am also very confident that such cases are very few, to the extent of being insignificant. Those who like to skip tests (they don't "miss", they SKIP!) are likely to skip the tests for several subjects at once, even though the tests are conducted over a span of two weeks. Just a couple of hours ago, I saw a former student, whom I taught in the previous semester, who managed to skip Test 1, and took the re-test instead by providing an "MC", sitting alone outside the faculty, taking a re-test. I wonder who his unfortunate lecturer is. And I also wonder if this boy will again go for re-tests in the next semester, when he repeats my subject (needless to say, he managed to fail gracefully my subject in the last semester)

In conclusion - I can see why some students prefer to make up excuses to skip their class test and go for re-tests - to buy more time to do their revision (this is stated on the assumption that they do revise their lessons *grin*). But, considering the added level of difficulty and syllabus coverage - is the extra time gained actually worth it? I've never, yet, had a student who could pass his re-test. So, why do they still do it? Can't they weigh the pros and cons? Don't they even think about it?

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