Reverse the Implementation of Advance Forward Testing in McGill Biochemistry Courses

Reverse the Implementation of Advance Forward Testing in McGill Biochemistry Courses

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The following is an open letter from the Biochemistry Undergraduate Society Council (BUGS Council) expressing our unanimous opposition to the implementation of Advance Forward Testing in Biochemistry courses in the Fall 2020 semester:

Dear department of Biochemistry, 

On behalf of the Biochemistry and Interdisciplinary Honours Immunology undergraduate communities, BUGS would like to express our concern regarding the implementation of Advanced Forward Testing in several Biochemistry courses. 

Advanced Forward Testing is a style of testing in which students must do exams chronologically, with the inability to skip questions or change their answers once they have moved on to the next question.

It has come to our attention that advanced forward testing has already been implemented by courses such as BIOC 320 this semester. We as a council were unanimous in our opposition to this style of testing, as we feel it does not effectively assess students’ understanding of the material, and instead can invoke testing anxiety and frustration with the inability to change answers. We also feel that the style of testing is tone-deaf to the reality that every student writes tests differently, and to assume that doing them chronologically works for everyone is simply not the case. 

We have included some testimonials from the Biochemistry student body below, and hope that you will take these into consideration when considering the methods of evaluation being experimented with for this remote learning semester.

"Not only does Advance Forward Testing not reflect a normal exam, it also particularly punishes students living with underlying circumstances such as those living in poor learning conditions, or those with mental health struggles that exacerbate their testing anxiety. It’s a bad idea both for reflecting a student’s knowledge and also accessibility as a whole!"

 - Biochemistry, U3


"I usually spend at least half my exam time just reviewing questions. Honestly, if I can't go back and review questions, I'll spend too long on each individual question and I won't finish my exam!"

 - Biochemistry, U3

"[Advance Forward Testing] makes testing less realistic compared to traditional handwritten tests, which doesn’t seem fair to students!"

 - Biochemistry, U2

"I completely support opposing [Advance Forward Testing] - for all the reasons other people have summarized above. Also, a useful test strategy is that oftentimes answering one question can jog your memory and help you answer a question you were previously stuck on. This would be impossible if you couldn't go back to the previous question. This would also make testing unfair for students with questions in different orders."

 - Biochemistry, U2


Thank you for your consideration with this matter. We hope that BUGS Council and the Department of Biochemistry can have a continuous dialog throughout this remote learning semester, to ensure the best possible learning environment for instructors and students.

Sincerely, 

BUGS Council

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