Can a cheat sheet in an EFL test engage and empower students?


  • Pirjo Hannele Pollari Jyväskylän yliopisto, normaalikoulu


student assessment, testing aids, engagement, empowerment


Although occasionally used in language classrooms, cheat-sheet tests have not been explored in foreign or second language education research. This study experimented with cheat-sheet tests in the teaching of EFL in a Finnish upper secondary school. The participants, 101 students, could make a cheat sheet for the grammar part of their English test. A total of 92 students prepared the cheat sheet, nine did not. Students’ cheat sheets, test results and comments constituted the data for this study, analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The existence of the cheat sheet and its quality (thorough, good or limited) correlated with the grammar test results: students with a thorough cheat sheet scored slightly higher points on average than other groups. Even though the cheat sheet did not markedly improve their test results, the majority of students felt that it had improved their learning and studying. Some students also reported reduced test anxiety.