Students deserve a second chance to prove what we know and can do (Opinion)

Not allowing test retakes is often unfair and teaches students to accept failure


Aiden Owen

Being allowed to show what we know through retakes, test corrections, or other methods helps us in the long run.

As a senior in high school, I am no novice to failure. The first time I ever remember failing a test was my sophomore year when I failed an Advanced Placement (AP) chapter test. When I got my test score back, I cried. It was the first time I had ever failed an assignment in school, much less a test. I felt destroyed.
I’ve spent most of my life as an A and B student taking advanced classes, so I wasn’t used to academic failure. The test knocked my grade down a few percentage points and made it so I couldn’t get an A in the class. Being stuck with a B as my final grade for the class that semester wasn’t really the end of the world, but to sophomore-me, that F in the grade book certainly felt like the end of the world.
The grade itself wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was the fact that there wasn’t an option for me to do test corrections and improve my test score. As a student taking advanced classes, I was used to not having a second chance to retake or fix my mistakes on a test. Teachers have always said that college professors won’t offer test corrections — doctors don’t get second chances to save a person’s life. But we aren’t in college — we’re in high school. Yes, many of the students here are taking college level classes, some actual college classes, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are not yet college students. So why should students be denied an educational opportunity that will benefit them?
I would imagine that test corrections would be available more in non-AP or non-honors classes, but I have no experience to comment on that. Regardless of class difficulty, students should get a second chance to show their understanding of the subject through test corrections.
Usually only students that fall in a certain score bracket have the option of test corrections. However, I think that every student should be allowed to fix the mistakes they made if they feel the need to. I tend to go over my work to find the right answer when I miss a question regardless of whether test corrections are offered. But if test corrections were offered, students would be able to show teachers that they can find the right answer after understanding why they were wrong before. It would help their grade — even if only by a little — and students would be less likely to miss the question if it comes up on the final exam.
It seems to me that test retakes are offered more than test corrections. According to my AP Statistics syllabus, the MHS Test Retake Policy says, “If a student does not meet proficiency (80 percent) on a test, that student can earn the opportunity to retake ONE test per semester.” I think test retakes are beneficial, but they can also make students stress about whether they’ll get an answer wrong that they originally got correct. Hopefully, students did more studying to improve their score on the retake, but sometimes, a student will get a question wrong just because they’re stressed, even if they know the content well. Not all students are good test takers.
Giving students the opportunity to show that they know the information in a non-stressful environment would better display the students’ capabilities rather than how well they test.
According to the policy in my AP Statistics syllabus, students can only choose one test to retake, and they can only retake that one test if they scored less than 80 percent on it. Students that scored better have no option to improve their grade. They may not need to, but the extra points from text corrections could be the difference between letter grades. Why can’t retakes be offered for every test and for every student as long as they meet the criteria (such as having all the homework turned in)?
Test corrections should be offered for every test and every student, no matter what grade they got — even if it’s an A or a B. Though not mentioned in the syllabi, test corrections for partial points were offered back in my AP U.S. Government and Politics, Precalculus and Trigonometry Honors with CU Succeed, and AP Psychology classes. Corrections are a great way for students to solidify their understanding of a concept because they have to take the time to determine why their answer is wrong, what the right answer is, and why the right answer is the correct one.
Students get to learn from the mistakes they made when they are allowed to do corrections.
Personally, I find test corrections more beneficial than just having to accept the grade I got. I understand the argument that test scores reflect what the students know and that students should have a better understanding of the material the first time around; often I will agree with those sentiments, but I have found that going back and redoing the work for a math problem or finding the correct answer helps me understand what I did incorrectly. The process also helps solidify the answer or process for later assignments.
We need to stop teaching students to just accept their failure and instead teach them how to learn from it.