Returning Results: An Observation of Tests in Japan

*The picture is from the Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart*

Today we returned test scores to the first years at Seaside Junior High. Returning tests is a universal experience for students around the world. Some students are indifferent while others are sending quick prayers and crossing fingers in hopes to get a good score. From my own experience I tended to dread getting tests back thanks to a healthy dose of test anxiety.

In my classrooms in Japan and noticed a few similarities and differences that I would like to share with you.

The Announcement

The teacher stands in front of the class and reveals the top scores. In my experience so far the names have not been read – though the students usually find out during the Share/Hide. The scores are also split by gender.

The Line Up

The next step is the line up. This was new to me. Usually my teachers either walked around handing back the tests or called us up by name. For most assignments this has been the case in my classes but for tests – or Seminar Tests – the names are in order. First the boys line up – in my case a rambling jumbled “line”. In my more energetic classes it’s a swarming free-for-all. The girls are sometimes more orderly or just as rowdy as the boys. The teacher secretly shows the test score and points out the wrong answers. During the line up I have seen boys and girls fall to the knees in frantic prayer and shout in triumph of surprising scores.

The Share/Hide

I couldn’t pick between the two because they happen simultaneously. Friends and classmates compare scores and celebrate or commiserate. Others try to hide their scores. Seaside is a little more respectful of classmates wish for secrecy while Hilltop can resort in a chase as the rowdy students snag tests in the confusion of the line up.

The Review

The last procedure in returning tests is the review. Sometimes the review happens in the beginning where the teacher goes over all the answers and have the students write in red pen on a blank test. If it happens at the end the teacher reviews the questions students struggled with the most.

Overall it is a very normal procedure in schools around the world. Sometimes it is a lot of fun to watch. Sometimes it is stressful with a rowdy class. Either way it was interesting.

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