Whiteboard Exam Review Session


Students are actively engaged in reviewing for an exam by a PowerPoint of quiz questions that they respond to on individual dry erase board. 


  • review a broad range of course topics in an efficient manner
  • actively engage students in the process of reviewing material
  • provide students awareness of gaps in their knowledge
  • motivate students to prepare for the exam

Class: MCB 170: Brain Invaders: Building and Breaking Barriers in the Nervous System

Introduction/Background: This course investigates the pathogens that attack the nervous system, the nervous system’s defenses against those attacks, and therapeutic interventions. To prepare students for exams in the course, students are engaged in an interactive review session one week before the test date.


8 x 11 individual dry erase board, dry erase marker + eraser.

Review PowerPoint, where answers can be revealed with a click (two sample PowerPoints are attached)


Preparation: Before class, the instructor creates a PowerPoint to review for the upcoming exam. On the PowerPoint, the instructor creates sets of several short answer questions where the answer could be revealed with a click, followed by several slides about the material from the previous quiz questions. The instructor recommends that instructors  “make these slides much, much longer than you actually have time for - students will use them in their free time and will appreciate the extra material”.

During Class:

  • Students were each given their own small whiteboard with dry erase markers (with an eraser on the end of the marker). Instructions for how to participate were then given to each student.
  • A question was given in the PowerPoint presentation with the answer hidden. Students then were required to write the answer down on their dry erase boards (and hold up the board towards the instructor once they were finished). Answers were typically 1-3 words, and always quick. Students are encouraged not to look at the boards of other students.
  •  After several questions, the instructor goes through 2-4 slides about the material that corresponds with the whiteboard quiz questions that preceded it.
  • Sometimes, the students themselves can explain the slides to the class if there is sufficient comfort with the subject matter in the group. Students learned from each other, and the student who is explaining the slides is more likely to have the material "stick" with them.
  • Students are given the slides at the end of the session, and they can continue to quiz and re-quiz themselves at home so they can best prepare for the exam.

Comments from the Instructor

“I think this is a great way to do a review session because it prevents students from passive engagement and forces them to be actively engaged. Not only this, it helps students to gain an awareness of what they do not know about the material they're responsible for on the upcoming exam. In addition, using this method, it is possible, I have found, to cover a much greater breadth of material than would normally be possible for a review session... the PowerPoint slides act like electronic flashcards and students just love them!”

review session.pptx15.05 MB
notes.pptx7.82 MB