Courses intended to be longer than about 100 hours should be designed in such a way (i.e., providing multiple tests such as midterms and/or chapter tests) so that portions of the course could be repeated if needed, rather than forcing the student to find out at the end of the course if the whole course needs to be repeated. This way students would be forced to study harder throughout the course due to the higher frequency of testing as well as reducing their chances of failing entire classes at a time. Final examinations should still be cumulative.
The use of self-tests would allow such a system of higher frequency testing to be implemented without requiring significantly extra time from the teacher or instructor. As a regular part of educational courses, several questions of all types (including essay questions) should be included at the end of each section or chapter. Students would be required to answer these questions when they get to them and would themselves check these answers against scoring keys held at the educational institution (for primary and secondary school courses) and perhaps at the end of textbooks (or otherwise included in course packages) for college and university students. The students would correct and grade these tests themselves giving them an indication as to how well prepared they are to being on track for the final exam. Of course, the teacher or instructor would grade all final exams.
The passing grade for all tests should be set at no less than 75% (3 out of 4 questions). Too many people failing a test are an indication that the test is too hard, not that the passing grade should be lowered. Such tests should be redesigned.
Self-tests and the final exam administered to a student who has previously failed that section or the entire course should contain mostly different questions, or at least differently worded questions, than the original exams taken. The test should not be harder, just different.
More Essay Tests
Essay tests should be used more throughout all levels of education. Though they do take significantly more time to grade, the effectiveness of an education would be greatly enhanced. If self-testing methods are used, educators may have more time to spend grading essay questions.
Students in many, if not most, secondary and higher grade primary schools should have the option of being administered some tests (either in part or in whole), even including final exams, orally with the professor or teacher. Not only would this help make students better speakers and communicators in general as well as benefit them in several other areas, but it would also potentially save the professor time by reducing the number of written papers to grade. Of course, the student would need to meet with the professor, likely at the educational facility itself so that the oral test could be conducted in person.
Students in primary school may utilize oral tests to a great extent on certain subjects, as well.