Touchstone Final Exams | Touchstone ESL Exams

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Want to Get High Student Evaluations? My Secrets, Revealed!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret right now and tell you the easiest way to get high student evaluations without risking your job or spending a lot of money. Since most of our contract renewals in Korean universities are based on this (at my current university, it’s the sole consideration and the bottom 50% get the cut), listen carefully for my secret!

Forgot the Expensive, Sketchy Stuff

But, first of all. If you want to get high evaluations and have money to burn, take your students out for coffee, dinner, etc. Have a pizza party. Constantly bring them snacks. They’ll love it (and you). I however, am way too cheap/frugal for that (see these 101 frugal living in Korea tips if you’re looking to save yourself some money).

You could also start your classes late and most importantly, end them early. The students will also love you for that one, but it’s kind of risky if the administration at your university find out and I certainly would never do it myself.

High Evaluations Minus the Bribery and other such Questionable Operations

What I am all about is getting high evaluations without bribing my students, or risking losing my job. Here’s the secret: with any sort of grading that seems “subjective,” hand out high grades like candy. In my classes, as long as you do the most minimal of efforts on homework, you’ll get a perfect score. Same with speaking tests. As long as you’re not terrible, you’ll get at least an 11 or 12 out of 15. It’s reasonably easy to get 14 or 15 as long as you study, even if you don’t really speak English that well.

However, since most universities have a curve system of some kind, you’ll need to separate the wheat from the chaff somehow. I do this through my written midterm and final exams. The final exam is particularly hard since it’s based on everything we’ve studied that semester, including from before the midterm exam. The average score is usually somewhere in the 60% range, making it ideal to separate the excellent students who will get “A’s” from everyone else.

The average students will often get almost perfect scores on attendance, homework and speaking tests, however they’ll often get something like 8/15 on the midterm and 6/15 on the final. Cha-ching! They’ve just gotten themselves an 85%, which is a B+ and won’t take up one of the top “A” spots.

Students don’t really seem to mind getting such low scores on written tests as they do on speaking ones and nobody will ever try to fight for a higher grade. I think it’s because their mistake is there, in black and white and it’s usually not up to my discretion. So, I don’t think this hurts my evaluations in any way, whereas grading speaking tests more harshly would likely¬†result in some serious backlash.

Touchstone Final Exams

The books I’m using for my classes this semester are Touchstone 2 + Touchstone 3.

Touchstone 3

And, here is the Touchstone final exam that I made for each classes, as well as the pictures and audio files that I used to go along with the tests. The first two questions on each final exam are listening ones, where I only play the audio once.

One question was a listening thing that we did in class while the other one was from a unit we studied in the book, but it’s something we didn’t do in class. It’s a very easy to separate the excellent students from the weaker ones because the good ones will go through all the listening files in the book as part of their preparation. The weaker students will not even get the one we did together in class already.


Touchstone Final Exam (Book 2)

Touchstone 2 Final Exam Map

Audio Files (my questions from pages 51 +54)

Final Exam


Touchstone Final Exam (Book 3)

Touchstone 3 Final Exam Pictures

Audio Files (my questions from pages 66 + 81)

Touchstone 3 Final Exam

What do you do in your classes?

Check out the Touchstone final exams and leave a comment telling me how you separate the best students from the weaker ones when you have to grade on a curve.


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