Why can’t quizzes be available straight away?

By Cecelia Powell, Managing Editor

The posters have gone up on the bus shelters. The pre-order has been made. The book has dropped on the doormat. The student has read it from cover to cover in a few hours. He has logged into Accelerated Reader and… there isn’t a quiz available yet.

It’s frustrating for the student, frustrating for his teacher – and it’s frustrating for us, too. We strive to motivate students with their reading, so we would love to have a fun motivational AR quiz ready for the moment a student finishes a brand new book. But because we value the quality of our quizzes it can sometimes take longer than we would like to make a quiz available for a book.

This article explains why it can take some time for a quiz to be made available and outlines the priorities we have when quizzing books for AR.

We never sacrifice quality for speed

The integrity of the quizzes we release is paramount, so we maintain a rigorous process to ensure that we only approve quizzes of the highest quality. Inherent in this commitment to accuracy, however, is a compromise against the speed of the process.

To maintain accuracy, we only work from the final print copy of a book. Proof copies often use alternative language – even important plotlines can be revised before the official publication of a book. This means that we cannot begin to quiz a book before it is published.

We scan the text of each book and process it to calculate the complexity of the text using the ATOS formula. We use the entire text of the book; while it would be quicker to use only a sample, the accuracy of the book level is greatly superior when the whole text is used.

A second copy of the book is then read by one of our team of quiz writers. This happens after the ATOS level has been determined because quiz writers consider the book level very carefully when phrasing their questions. Quizzes reflect the complexity of the books on which they are written.

The quiz writer’s initial draft is then reviewed by an editor. In about half of cases it is returned to the quiz writer to make revisions according to our editorial guidelines. The quiz then goes through two further stages of editing and is given a final quality check to ensure that nothing in the quiz is incorrect or confusing. This means that a quiz is seen by at least five people before it is made available to students.

The whole process, from sourcing a final published edition through to approving a rigorously edited quiz, can sometimes take longer than we’d like. We value the accuracy and quality of our quizzes highly, however, and won’t release a quiz until it’s ready.

Some books are given higher priority than others

When considering priorities for the books we quiz, we focus on titles that we know will be popular. In no particular order, these are our biggest priorities:

  • Requests from customers. These can be submitted via an online system, and you will be notified automatically when a quiz is available for a book you have requested.
  • Books nominated for awards. Awards we pay particularly close attention to include the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals and the Guardian Children’s Fiction award; while we also prioritise the World Book Day books and those on the Bookbuzz list.
  • Hi/Lo books for struggling and reluctant readers.
  • Additions to existing series.
  • Releases from well-known authors.

Sadly this means that books with less demand are given lower priority than those we know will be immediately popular with students.

We seek to quiz a broad range of books

Another factor we take into consideration when prioritising books is the range of literature we are making available for AR users. We strive to approve a healthy mix of Lower, Middle and Upper Years titles, covering the full range of book levels.

Because of the nature of awards and publishers’ marketing campaigns, the most highly requested books tend to be long and relatively complex. We take requests for these titles in balance with requests for a regular stream of books at lower book levels, which tend to be less specific about the titles desired but no less important to the schools and students seeking appropriately levelled books to read. Some compromise is necessary to achieve a balanced range of quiz releases.

Motivating eager students until an AR quiz is available

It’s understandable that keen students will want to read books from their favourite authors as soon as they are published and take a quiz straight afterwards. How can you keep those enthusiastic readers motivated before an AR quiz is available?

One suggestion that we have heard that has been successfully implemented in schools has been to task students with writing their own quizzes for a book. Students can then test each other using their own quizzes until the ‘official’ AR quiz is available.  Then the students can compare it with their own attempts and see what similarities and differences there are.  By engaging the students in the programme in this manner, not only is reading for pleasure being encouraged to further enhance a love of ready, but writing skills are being supported as well. And writing their own quizzes can demonstrate just how tricky this quiz writing process can be!


Cecelia Powell
Managing Editor

Part of the original UK quiz writing team, Cecelia has nearly 15 years' experience of producing content for Accelerated Reader. Now the Managing Editor, she oversees both the editorial and administrative aspects of the Content department.


Posted on 23 June 2016 at 2:30 pm
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