Is it a Math Test or a Listening Test?

There is a test that our first and second graders take each year. During the math portion of the test the teacher is reading the question out loud to them. It is not written anywhere on the test and the teacher can only read the question once. Yes, you read that right, they can only read the question ONCE.

My question is the same as the topic of this blog, “Is this a math test or a listening test?”

How does this test a child’s knowledge of math? What if they don’t hear the question clearly, or they don’t understand it? Being able to read the question themselves after the teach reads it out loud isn’t cheating, it’s letting them understand the problem. These are first & second graders, they are 6 to 8 years old and we are expecting them to be able to understand a question read out loud only once. Who came up with this idea? Have they seen the attention span of this age group, or how they actually learn?

I know adults that can’t answer questions without asking for the question to be repeated or reading it themselves. Could we give these test writers a test commensurate with their ability, but only read them the question once, no exceptions. I don’t think they would do as well as they think.

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2 thoughts on “Is it a Math Test or a Listening Test?

  1. Listening is an important skill in math. I work with ESL students, and I’m looking for resources that help them practice their English listening and speaking skills for mathematics. When they go to US universities, much of what they will be taught in mathematics will be delivered orally, and I want to prepare them for that.

    Reading the question more than once would be more fair, but let’s not discount the importance of listening and speaking as opposed to written numbers.

  2. Hi Laura,

    Thank you for the reply.

    I actually have a degree in Math and have sat through many a class. While it may be oral it is also written on a board of some type so that you can see it.

    Also, if you have a question, the professor doesn’t say “Sorry, I can only say that once.”

    In 1st grade they should not be worried about listening skills in a math test. They have plenty of other tests that test listening skills that these children take. If you want to know their math aptitude in first grade then test that, not whether they heard the question the first time.


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