Multiple Choice Midterm Review


In this midterm review activity, students practice answering multiple choice questions on a wide variety of topics by working in pairs to answer review questions for the midterm.

Before the review, students should be familiar with material covered in the first half of the course. The students are told in advance that there will be a midterm review in section. However, there is a range in how much students have studied for the exam when they attend the review. 

During the review, students get into pairs or groups of three. Because the midterm exam has a multiple choice section, the TFs prepare a powerpoint with many multiple choice questions on a range of topics. For each question, the TF puts it up on the screen and reads it aloud. The students then discuss the answer with their partner and use their class notes to help them. Instead of answering out loud, they hold up 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers, corresponding to the answer they think is correct. This allows other student-pairs to come up with their answers independently. The TFs get a sense of how difficult the question is based on how long it takes the pairs to come up with the correct answer. After everyone is ready, the TF reveals the right answer and the class discusses why it is right and why some other answers were wrong. For example, the TF says, "The answer was A. Can someone tell me why?" and then calls on a group who had answered correctly. Also, instead of revealing the answer right away, the TF can say "Who can tell me why B is NOT the right answer?" Based on how many student-pairs get the answer right, the TF varies the length of this discussion. If everyone gets it right, they quickly move on.

This activity takes the entire time of the section. According to Sierra Petersen, it is important to keep the pace going. Don't give students too much time to answer each question. Since students submit answers on the fly, you can see who is still struggling and encourage them to move towards an answer. Even if students feel they have no idea, for multiple questions, they should still make their best guess. She forced every pair to submit an answer, even if it was just a random guess. 

At the end, the TF takes additional questions and reviews specific topics that the students request. The purpose of the review is to cover a wide variety of topics quickly, some of which may show up as multiple choice and some in the long form questions on the exam.

In the case of the full class final exam review, they do a similar exercise with the whole class (rather than in a small section). They use clickers to gauge how many of the students know the answer and ask the students to try to answer the questions themselves first and then discuss with a neighbor if they get it wrong. In only a few cases do the majority get it right (the instructors write challenging questions on purpose), so they follow every question with significant discussion of the correct answer.