Lindsay Clandfield provides some tips for preparing an end-of-year class quiz.

Photo of students doing a quiz.

Source: Array, Getty Images

Towards the end of the year many teachers (especially Guardian Weekly readers) like to prepare a “Year in review” news quiz. These can provide a nice, light way to finish before the holidays. However, they are only as good as the questions they contain. And all too often, the questions are just too hard, making the whole thing a bit demotivating. Here are some alternative ways of doing a quiz that should be more successful.

First of all, questions asking about names tend to be difficult. Students just can’t remember them, and they aren’t really that good for language practice anyway. Better to give the name and some details as part of the question, which will produce a longer answer. For example, “Who were the vice-presidential candidates in the US election?” can be made more productive if changed to “What do the Americans Sarah Palin from Alaska and Joe Biden from Delaware have in common?”

Use photos of people, events or places that were in the news this past year (e.g. Benazir Bhutto, Javier Bardem, Michelle Obama). Put these up around the room with big pieces of paper underneath each one. Then write all the names on the board. Students match the names and pictures, and then walk around and write information about each subject on the paper beneath the picture.

You can also make a series of multiple choice questions, but then ask students to provide the distractors (the other “wrong” answers). For example, "What record did Jamaican Usain Bolt
beat at the Olympics this summer?"

a) the 100 metres
b) . . .
c) . . .

In groups, students get a list of these, provide the distractors and then read out the question and the possible answers to test each other.

Finally, you could get the students to make a quiz themselves. Divide them into groups, and ask each student to find one question and answer as homework to bring to the next class. The groups then prepare the questions together the next day before asking and answering.