Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by venules » May 27th, 2018, 2:58 pm

Unome wrote:Restarting this because of something new I saw,

At our state tournament, we received tests mailed back to us, presumably after the appeals window ended and scores were considered final. Thoughts?
I understand some of the concerns with releasing tests from regional competitions (in fact, I've only received one answer key from regionals in my entire SO career, and I never got my own answers back), but if anything, I think releasing state tests before nationals or by the end of the season is probably more beneficial than harmful. Even if state tests are pulled from the Internet as some people have mentioned, they're *hopefully* less likely to be reused between seasons than regional exams are, and seeing answer keys/graded responses can help teams improve for Nats or the upcoming season.
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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by bearasauras » May 27th, 2018, 3:09 pm

Having been a competitor, I had been a proponent of releasing tests to students afterward since it allows students to figure out where they can learn more. That is, until this year's National when I saw the number of people trying to figure out who the Event Supervisors are so that they can study to the writing style of the test writers instead of the content. Releasing tests seems to give an unfair advantage to those who did better in the past, raising the entry barrier for Science Olympiad.

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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by knightmoves » May 27th, 2018, 3:11 pm

Unome wrote:Restarting this because of something new I saw,

At our state tournament, we received tests mailed back to us, presumably after the appeals window ended and scores were considered final. Thoughts?
It's always nice to get your tests back, so you can see if you did as well as you think you did...

Although I can't help thinking that if you do get your test back after the appeals window ends, and you find grading issues, you'd be more upset than if you never knew. I think I'd rather just think that the other guy nailed the test than feel wronged by dubious grading.

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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by venules » May 27th, 2018, 4:45 pm

bearasauras wrote:That is, until this year's National when I saw the number of people trying to figure out who the Event Supervisors are so that they can study to the writing style of the test writers instead of the content. Releasing tests seems to give an unfair advantage to those who did better in the past, raising the entry barrier for Science Olympiad.
I've never heard of people studying a supervisor's writing style before. How could that possibly help?
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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by pb5754 » May 27th, 2018, 4:56 pm

venules wrote:
bearasauras wrote:That is, until this year's National when I saw the number of people trying to figure out who the Event Supervisors are so that they can study to the writing style of the test writers instead of the content. Releasing tests seems to give an unfair advantage to those who did better in the past, raising the entry barrier for Science Olympiad.
I've never heard of people studying a supervisor's writing style before. How could that possibly help?
Actually, I find it to be quite common, especially before Nats. Certain supervisors like to include specific questions about a topic, others like to reuse questions from previous years in their test (iirc Jon Aros does this with Chem Lab Nats tests? you can probably find more information about this on the Nats forums...). If you know the type of questions that may be asked, it can give you a huge advantage during the test.
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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by kate! » May 27th, 2018, 5:38 pm

venules wrote:
bearasauras wrote:That is, until this year's National when I saw the number of people trying to figure out who the Event Supervisors are so that they can study to the writing style of the test writers instead of the content. Releasing tests seems to give an unfair advantage to those who did better in the past, raising the entry barrier for Science Olympiad.
I've never heard of people studying a supervisor's writing style before. How could that possibly help?
Unome posted in the Nationals tests feedback forums or whatever it's called, saying that he found out who the DyPlan proctor would be before nationals, and he tried to study to her test style, and he ended up doing really well and medaling because he was prepared for her type of test.
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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by windu34 » May 27th, 2018, 8:28 pm

I found it astonishing how many perennial national competitors knew who their event supervisors were - many of the event supervisors at nationals supervise an event every year and it is certainly possible to predict who will be supervising what events even as the events rotate if you know them because they usually supervise that same event multiple times throughout the season at local regionals/states tournaments. For some teams, its a given that you read the publications that relate to that years events from your event supervisor - its almost an crucial part of preparing for nationals that rarely gets spoken about from what I have seen on here, but for competitors from dominant nationals teams, its a basic part of their prep.
For those wondering why it helps - when a test writer knows a lot about a certain component of the rules for an event much more than the other components, they tend to write the hardest questions based on that material that they are very familiar with because its easier for them and it just makes sense. Therefore, by identifying what fields you ES has experience in, you can try to predict what the hardest material covered on the exam will be and gain an advantage over the other competitors by putting extra time into those subjects.
I think the "fairest" thing to do would just be release the names of all the national ES's once decided so that it is available to everyone, however I am unsure how many people are aware that there are competitors out there doing this type of prep and its not easy to know for sure one way or another.
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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by Unome » May 28th, 2018, 8:06 am

windu34 wrote:I found it astonishing how many perennial national competitors knew who their event supervisors were - many of the event supervisors at nationals supervise an event every year and it is certainly possible to predict who will be supervising what events even as the events rotate if you know them because they usually supervise that same event multiple times throughout the season at local regionals/states tournaments. For some teams, its a given that you read the publications that relate to that years events from your event supervisor - its almost an crucial part of preparing for nationals that rarely gets spoken about from what I have seen on here, but for competitors from dominant nationals teams, its a basic part of their prep.
For those wondering why it helps - when a test writer knows a lot about a certain component of the rules for an event much more than the other components, they tend to write the hardest questions based on that material that they are very familiar with because its easier for them and it just makes sense. Therefore, by identifying what fields you ES has experience in, you can try to predict what the hardest material covered on the exam will be and gain an advantage over the other competitors by putting extra time into those subjects.
I think the "fairest" thing to do would just be release the names of all the national ES's once decided so that it is available to everyone, however I am unsure how many people are aware that there are competitors out there doing this type of prep and its not easy to know for sure one way or another.
Agreed, releasing them renders guesswork unnecessary and puts teams new to Nationals on an even level - half of the years that I have the list of National ESes, it's from the tournament program that's often only printed. A new team attending next year's Nationals, for example, has basically no way to know who the ESes were in 2018 because it wasn't published online like in 2017 and 2016.

Really, this aspect of prep would be much less useful if not for the many ESes with rather strange writing styles (Chem Lab comes to mind...).
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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by bearasauras » May 28th, 2018, 8:16 am

I think what Unome and Windu said has merit for the National tournament. For Regional and State, I don't think it's fair to expect teams (especially new teams) to learn the materials and then to try to track down the event supervisors and/or learn the writing style of the event supervisors.

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Re: Releasing graded tests at Regionals and States

Post by Unome » May 28th, 2018, 8:42 am

bearasauras wrote:I think what Unome and Windu said has merit for the National tournament. For Regional and State, I don't think it's fair to expect teams (especially new teams) to learn the materials and then to try to track down the event supervisors and/or learn the writing style of the event supervisors.
I doubt it's even useful for the majority of state and regional tournaments. I did find some useful info from looking at the ES list for our state tournament when it was published, but really it wouldn't have mattered whether or not I'd looked. Perhaps in a state like NC with several perennially consistent ESes it might be helpful.
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