Aug 162012

While we did many problems and activities at the Exeter training, we discussed how the Exeter instructor conducted his exams very little. We did have a short discussion one day on assessments, and he did give all of us some files with sample exams. He does not use these exams any more, so he felt comfortable giving them, and he gave permission for me to post them.

First off, here are the ground rules for all Exeter math exams. They are open book, which means, open notes. The learners have access to their entire work history that has been done to date in the course.

Part of the exam is to be done with no calculator, and part with calculator. In addition, the assessments are designed to fairly assess the learners thinking and problem solving skills.

First, I’ll look at some problems from the Problem Sets in Math 1, then I will compare them to the assessment questions that are similar.



M1:3:2 & M1:3:5-7





And here is 1 – 4 from the first exam, no calculator allowed section.


(I didn’t select the algebra solving problems, just looking at the number line questions for these.)

I only went through page 4 on the Problem sets, and notice that question 4C is exactly the same as the problem M1:4:9. There is nothing really tricky here, just “can you take what you learned and find it in your notes (4c) or can you extend what you know from your notes to a newish situation (4a & b).”  Problem 1 on the exam matches well with the questions from the problem set as well.

So nothing really tricky, just an honest assessment of knowledge. Now granted, this is only the first exam, not an exam from later in the year where the material is tougher, but it does set a pedagogical pattern for the assessments.

In the first test of the year, there are 5 questions w/o calculators and 5 with. If we look at the 5 with calculator the pattern holds.


Notice the heavy reliance on the problem solving, and the methods of problem solving discussed previously.

The exam treats the problem solving very straight-forwardly and even suggests to the learner they SHOULD be using the table system. Then, in question 10, a little extra credit is dangled for taking the problem from guess and check to the generalized answer.


All in all, I would say there is nothing ground breaking or earth shattering here. It looks like the Exeter teachers assess their learners like I assess my learner, and like many / most / all teachers are taught to create good assessments.

The lack of multiple choice is the real difference, but the reliance on MC exams is a crutch because of huge classes (30+) and the stupid demands of high stakes testing foisted on public schools. Doesn’t make it right, just makes it what the ‘reformers’ want.

Below you will find a zipped folder for download of some out of date exams used that used to be used at Exeter in Math 1.

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