Reclaim Your Tests Through Retakes

Testing policies should consistently better our learning process


Augie Hawk, Editorials Editor

We’ve all taken an assessment whose grade we didn’t love. Perhaps you had a bad day. Perhaps you weren’t feeling well. Maybe you didn’t understand the material enough and needed more practice. Or, if you’re a senior, perhaps you succumbed to senioritis and chose not to study at all.

No matter the circumstances, it’s not a great feeling. Your parents may get mad, or your adviser might throw something at you. All seems lost. But wait! There may be a solution: your teacher can let you retake your assessment, under the retake policy. Hallelujah! Your grade will surely increase. Thanks to that teacher, your life is less stressful and you can put less pressure on yourself.

Retakes on assessments have become a common factor at the school to provide students with a helpful safety net and an opportunity to study, solidify, and demonstrate the material they didn’t quite understand the first time around. The grade incentive from retakes motivates students to take the time to review material they didn’t understand. Retakes, then, give students an opportunity and incentive to delve into the material they’re learning, push their understanding, and feel comfortable making mistakes.

Some may disagree with the retake policy, citing that in the real world, there’s no such thing as a do-over. If you fail a job interview, for instance, no one lets you take it again. But high school isn’t a time to fear making mistakes; it’s a time to learn from them and practice ways to increase your understanding without stressing over grades.

Still, not all teachers allow for retakes or corrections on tests, and even if they do, the systems for earning points back vary by subject and class. Some teachers let you correct an assessment to receive a maximum, pre-set score. Others let you retake and just record the higher score, or average the two. In certain science classes, students don’t receive an initial grade on their assessments and make a judgment call whether or not to retake them based on the teacher’s feedback.

Such inconsistency in retake policies from class to class means that students’ knowledge and ability are measured differently by each teacher and can become confusing for students. This lack of equitable grading is simply unrealistic and doesn’t reflect a fair opportunity to succeed in all classes.

Clearly, the school lacks a universal standard on retaking and correcting assessments. We propose a retake and corrections policy, across all departments, that allows students to average the initial and retake scores. Such a policy would mitigate issues around different grading styles and give students the benefit of learning from their mistakes in all classes, not just a few.

Averaging scores on the two tests, instead of capping points back or just using the highest score, rewards students who study for the retake yet still ensures they experience the repercussions of their lack of initial preparedness. With this new universal policy, students can feel confident that all their teachers will allow retakes and grade students’ capability in an equitable manner. In turn, students won’t need to stress too much about failing a test and instead focus on the material at hand. Then, they will feel comfortable with making mistakes, learn to study material more deliberately, and gather important confidence in their academic ability.