New Quiz and Exam Format in 2016

Posted on December 30, 2015 by - Academy Talk

Some exciting new changes have been made to the quiz and exam format at the Samurai Tech Academy!

We've changed to "non-blocking" quizzes and exams, and no longer require 100% to pass.

It's probably easiest to explain this change by comparing what we've been doing with the new system:

Our original quiz structure was as follows:

  • Students had to score 100% on each unit quiz before progressing
  • They had three attempts to achieve this score
  • After failing their third attempt, they were blocked and had to interact with us either in the Student Forums or Office Hours before being allowed to take the exam again.

Module Exams were similar, but with different score requirements and attempt limits.

The rationale behind this structure was to enhance student accountability and prevent students from “brute-forcing” their way through the course without really learning anything.


  • Since all students had to score 100% on quizzes, there was no grade that meaningfully reflected a student's grasp of the material.
  • If a student missed one question, they had to retake the entire quiz, not just the missed question = annoyance factor.
  • Some students were basically using a “process of elimination” to get some of the answers correct.
  • Some students blew through 3 attempts without seriously trying to figure out why they were missing the ones they were missing. Then they had to wait to interact with us to continue.
  • Some students who got blocked stopped making progress in the course.
  • This structure was based on the assumption that all students would receive a certification. But we have found that certification is not a key goal for every student.

Solution - our new quiz and exam structure:

  • A quiz must be taken in order to move on to the next unit, but a student does not need to achieve a particular score in able to move on. This way, the important sequential order of going through the units is preserved, but there is no blocking that inhibits progress.
  • Each quiz and exam has a recommended minimum score of 80%.
  • Although there is a minimum recommended score, students are not required to achieve this score. However, to receive a Certification from the Samurai Tech Academy, their cumulative grade must be 80% or higher and they must score 90% or higher on the midterm and final exams (for the courses that have those). (Note: the cumulative grade requirement doesn't apply to students who were already partway through the course when this change was made.)
  • Students get two attempts at the quiz to achieve their desired score. The final score reflects their grade for that lesson. If the student doesn't do as well as desired on the first attempt, it is up to him or her to do what they need to do to improve their score on the second attempt.
  • Students are not required to take the quiz or exam a second time. Each student makes that choice for himself.
  • Resets for students who want to retake quizzes/exams to increase their scores can be requested ONLY at the end of a module, after the module exam has been taken (if there is one). It will be for the entire module, not just for one quiz. The student must explain why they want a reset and what they plan to do differently the second time through.


  • The new structure allows for greater flexibility for each student to get out of the Academy what they want while preserving the important sequential flow of each course.
  • Places the responsibility for learning the course material and getting extra help with the student. This encourages each student to take ownership of his or her learning experience.
  • If a student does poorly on their first quiz attempt, it is his or her responsibility to seek interactive help, which is abundantly available to them in the Student Forums and Office Hours, before taking the quiz a second time and finalizing their grade for that lesson. This lets each student decide how much, if any, interactive help is needed in order to master the material and furthers our goal of offering a unique learning experience to each student.
  • A student’s progress is not impeded by getting blocked on a quiz or exam. This, in turn, will yield a higher graduation rate.
  • A student’s cumulative score becomes a meaningful metric of the student’s grasp of the material. The student (or his employer)-- not STA staff-- sets the standard for how well they learn the material (unless they desire a Certification).
  • Certification may not be important to each individual student. But those who want it will work harder for it and the help is amply available for them to get it.

Any questions? Ask us in the Student Forums!

2 Responses to “New Quiz and Exam Format in 2016”

  1. Alan Zittlau on

    Just wondering as to the first time a student takes an exam in a module.
    After the exam is sent in and corrected, will the student know which questions they may have gotten wrong?
    Just want to check, as it would make sense for one to know where they may have to hone up their skills for the next shot at it.
    Thanks, Al

    • Scott Brown on

      Hi Alan, great question! Yes, the students will see which questions they missed and which they got correct. They won’t see the correct answers for the ones they missed nor will they see the other possible answers for the questions they got right. But, seeing the questions missed, the responsibility is on the student to either re-study the lesson or get additional help in the Student Forums or the regular Office Hours webinars to ensure they understand why he missed the questions he did. He can re-take the quiz or exam whenever he feels ready.

      The idea is that the quizzes are an integral part of the learning experience. So, while we want them to know which questions they missed, we don’t want to outright tell them the answers. Instead, the incorrect answers should serve as an indicator to the student on which concepts or topics he should study more carefully, getting help as needed in the Student Forums and the regular, live Office Hours webinars.

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