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Dean of Students

Are Trick Questions Only For Exams or Real Life, Too?

KathleenPlankenhorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every time I take an exam, I always seem to be tripped up by a trick question. It is inevitable! I recently spoke with a professor about an exam I took in their class. The professor told me that they like putting trick questions on exams to encourage students to understand the concepts in their class rather than just temporarily memorizing the concepts, then to just forget them soon after. I understand my professor’s point of view but I do not agree with the use of trick questions. And here is why: If these classes are preparing us for the workforce and real life, is there a need for trick questions? Last time I checked, life is not always simple, but it is never a constant battle of trick questions. For the most part, things in life are pretty straight forward.

The challenges we are going to encounter in life will be difficult yet bearable. And ultimately, the challenges we face will not be  like mind games and trick questions that have us second guessing ourselves.  Again, life is pretty straight forward. Trick questions on exams will not prepare students for life. Honestly, these questions will only bring on a lack of confidence and anxiety in students worrying throughout the whole exam thinking, “Is this a real question or is it a trick?” This leads you to overthink during the exam and lose your focus. They should be worrying about showing their knowledge of the material and not about the nature of the questions.

If college students want to succeed in their professional life, they will put the effort to do so. Everyone no matter their age can be successful if they put the effort in. So, there is no need for trick questions in my mind, because those who want to do well and learn will put the effort in. They will not just memorize the material in order to ace the exam. They learn the material because they want to–so there. No need for trick questions. Students will either know the concepts or they will make educated (we hope) guesses during exam.

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