I hated coming up with appropriate exams for the longest time...until I finally got smart. Are you ready for this GENIUS idea?
I create our exams out of materials that we would do daily. I love doing this for exams, because not only does it show a students competency on what we are doing in class, they are totally comfortable doing it because they already do it all of the time! Plus, I can easily make it formal and attach a score to it as well. Winning! :)
Language Arts / News2You Article Exam:
If we did a lot of N2Y in class, I would go over the story like we always would, and make the exam out of the questions. I would still give students their differing levels based on their abilities. Most of my students use the simplified news articles, so their exam would be the game page (out of 6), the review page (also out of 2, each question worth 2 points), and the think page (out of 3: 1. read/listen to options, 2. circle choices, 3, write answer). Then I would tally all of those up, and their exam score was # correct/15.
Writing / Daily Journal Exam:
My students do daily journals, so this made for a simple exam and a great way to assess how they are doing on this daily journaling activity. I give each student the same level that they are working on in class. As for scoring, I would give them 2 points for coloring, copying, or drawing the picture and then 2 points for each sentence (did they copy the sentence (or listen/read it) and did they complete the sentence with their thought). Plus the score is out of 10, which is a bonus because it's super easy to get a percentage!
My students also complete a math worksheet daily, so this one was a little more work for them, as I would make them complete 5 worksheets for their exam (but this can always be done over the course of a few days as I would just collect them daily). I would pick a worksheet from each topic at their level and combine the 5 for a math exam that covers life skill math topics of money, time, more/less, sizes, and directions. Boom. Done.
And then for the two hour exam time that we have, we have the freedom to do something fun, like cooking (two years ago we made ice cream and I was creative at how I scored the kids on their exams!), or crafts, or games...or movies! :) It's the end of the year. The kids deserve to have fun just as much as you do! So my advice to you, stop overthinking it, and just do what you do. The kids will do better because they are familiar with it, and it's easier for you as well!
Read about past final exams here (after clicking, scroll past this post to read the older ones!)