No, Pop Quizzes Are Not Beneficial to Students’ Learning

By Teagan Yuen (IV), Contributing Writer

For many high school students, a pop quiz is one of the worst scenarios they can find themselves in. While some teachers may argue that pop quizzes keep students on their toes, they are not an effective way to assess true knowledge. Instead, they force students to learn at a pace that does not suit their learning styles, leading to more stress and cramming than announced quizzes.

Christian Leriche (I) says, “Personally, I like to work at my own pace sometimes. Knowing the dates of quizzes will let you pace yourself, but having pop quizzes force you to work at a pace that isn’t really your own.” Students who do not do well on pop quizzes should not be automatically labelled as bad students.

Even the best students can struggle to understand topics some nights, and it is unrealistic to expect them to learn the material themselves before the next class. Therefore, pop quizzes are not an accurate measurement of a student’s performance in a class. Rather, they measure how quickly a student can absorb information they learned during a couple of classes or even the night before.

Boston Latin School AP Environmental Science teacher, Ms. Jennifer Dorcy, supports this idea. She says, “At the beginning of my career I did [give pop quizzes], and I found that they weren’t very effective. They didn’t assess true knowledge. What they assessed was a student’s ability to remember what they just read. I found that some of my best students still weren’t necessarily doing well.”

Beyond this, pop quizzes follow an extremely unfair system. Students who have classes at the beginning of the day are caught more off guard than those who have classes at the end, since they would have already heard about it.

Pop quizzes have also been notorious for encouraging students to cheat because many feel unprepared to take them based on their own knowledge. Whether it is giving out answers or even through the seemingly harmless action of telling peers the contents of the quiz, students feel more inclined to cheat on quizzes they don’t know about. This would also cause an unfair display of the students’ knowledge because those who know about it will obviously do better.

Students also do not learn as much from pop quizzes they performed poorly on, since they never dedicated time to studying in the first place. Benjamin Jacobson (IV) says, “On a regular quiz, I would feel more inclined to look at what I had gotten wrong, and I would be able to study it and be prepared for my next quiz. But with a pop quiz, I often feel overwhelmed about what to study because a lot of the information isn’t something I was familiar with.” Planned assessments follow an outline that the students are comfortable with studying, whereas reviewing pop quizzes can feel intimidating and daunting.

Especially with the number of students who have extracurriculars after school, expecting students to study for a quiz that may or may not happen is an unrealistic and damaging expectation. Students are already overwhelmed enough and do not need the pressure of pop quizzes. Although many teachers claim that pop quizzes intend to help students study bit by bit daily, many students do not change their study patterns for them.

Frequent, smaller and announced quizzes on material that has already been reviewed would allow students to learn at their own pace while still keeping up and maintaining daily study habits. It would encourage students to receive help while giving them time to thrive on their own study schedules and be a better representation of what they actually know. One thing is very clear, however. Pop quizzes cause much more harm than good and should be stopped.