Why My Students Read Their Answers To Me

Early in my teaching days, I developed a strange habit that was a result of countless hours meeting with students; instead of simply reading off the correct answers to my pupils,

I make my students read their answers to me.

Why do I do this?

To preserve what I call Learning Moments.

Admittedly, this technique is far more applicable to the verbal sections of the tests (i.e. English, Reading, Writing and Language) as opposed to Math and Science.

Here's why:

Math (and Science) is a procedural subject. When you engage a math problem and you don't understand it, your brain almost literally exclaims "You don't know what to do".

Furthermore, when I tell you that the correct answer to #5 is the letter "A", your brain still fights back and asks the question "Well, how do I do this problem?" Again, this is all assuming #5 is in the math section.

Hence, teaching moments are very natural in the technical arts because we all want to know the answer to the tough riddle don't we? Our natural curiosity takes over and I have your undivided attention even for a few fleeting moments.

Alas, such is not the case on the verbal side of the test.

Tell a student the correct answer to #10 is the letter "B" [on a Reading section] and his/her brain typically shuts off to further teaching. Instead, the student's eyes take a gander at what I just revealed is the correct answer, then takes about a split second to convince him/herself why that was, indeed, the right response all along. It's as if the tester sheepishly admits, "Ok you got me. I see why that choice was better".

Btw, there are a few students who react completely differently and would rather sit there and debate the merits of THEIR original choices and why the test and its writers must be school dropouts who have very low IQs. Perfectionists, I'm talking to you.

But for everybody else, the moment is lost. It's like pulling teeth getting them to listen to the correct paths they should have taken BEFORE they knew the correct answers. Imagine talking up a movie's story line after the major twist has already been revealed to your audience. Tough sledding.

It's much easier for people to convince themselves that they know what to do because reading is a subjective experience. Hence if I told you that the author always carried a bias against stereotypical heroine characters, you are able to justify the revealed answer choice even quicker. But if I then asked you to calculate the straight line distance from the top of that author's 5 story house to the end of his driveway's pavements, it wouldn't matter if you knew the answer if you didn't know how to do it in the first place.

By keeping the correct answer choice at bay, even for a few minutes longer, I can successfully teach to the methodology without your inner voice getting in the way.

Give it a shot.

Even if you're not working with Pulido Prep, perhaps ask your instructor not to reveal the correct answers right away.

Then feel free to come back and report what happened.

Good luck out there!

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