Step 1: Spiral Review is Test Prep
It is no secret that students need to see topics multiple times in order to reach mastery. My absolute favorite way to achieve spiral review is through math stations.
Math stations are versatile in that students can complete them independently, with a partner, or with the teacher during small group time. Math stations can also be completed over and over again, and because they have a little bit of gamification involved students love them too!
Stations as review are a powerful tool, because they keep topics fresh. In our classroom, once we learned a standard and practiced the different ways students would see it those stations stayed in rotation for the rest of the year.
If you are looking for math stations, please check out these stations by standard. Each set is ten complete math stations based on one standard to allow students to truly practice towards mastery. I loved using these stations for partner practice as well as with my small groups and tutoring students because growth was easy to see!
Step 2: Have Some Fun with Test Prep
Test prep really has a ho-hum feeling to the name, but it doesn’t have to.
When you think test prep, I want you to think gamification. Our brains are hardwired to enjoy games and our students’ are too! Through games, we can trudge through heavy content, and work hard, all while having fun.
My number one, go to, all time favorite game for any kind of review is Stinky Feet. It can be played with any content and is a crowd pleaser that will have your students asking you to play again and again. You can check out how to play it here.
Having fun with review doesn’t have to be elaborate, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it should be engaging. Anything that gets your students up and moving or working together will be a hit. Think scavenger hunts where you hide the same problems you would do on a worksheet around the room. Or maybe go outside and have an egg hunt!
Step 3: Use Your Data to Test Prep
Step 4: The Final Push of Test Prep
Those last few weeks before the test seem to always come sooner rather than later, and I always felt that I needed a little something extra to hone in on what my students needed to boost their confidence and get them ready to excel.
I wanted something that would cover all of the most tested standards all on one page, and when I looked I couldn’t find something that fit that bill, so I made one.
Enter Test Smash, a comprehensive, standards-based review for the last few weeks before the big test. Each day students complete a question for each of the heavily-tested standards, we review them together, and they keep a running record of their grow and glow areas on the provided data sheet.
I am not going to lie, and while I consider this the holy grail of the final push it is a lot, and can be rather intimidating for students when they first look at it. To help with that intimidation factor I like to vary how we complete it each day, and shared a list of a few ideas here.
Step 5: Remember It Is Just A Test
This, by far, is the hardest step for me to remember, but it is also the most important. A test is a test. It is not a measure of the value of your students. You know your students better than anyone when it comes to what they can do in the classroom, and a test will never measure up to that.
While it is easy to get wrapped up in the hullabaloo of testing season, remind yourself that your students are what matter.
Introducing Test Prep Academy
Test Prep Academy is a mini-course full of information on how to plan, prepare for, and execute your best test prep season yet! With five modules full of information that will take you from plan to action this mini-course will be your test prep lifesaver!
- Module 1: The Standards
- Module 2: Planning for Test Prep
- Module 3: The Superpower of Small Groups
- Module 4: Harnessing Cooperative Learning
- Module 5: Gamifying for Review
Each topic is covered with a series of videos and comes with a workbook to keep your notes neat and make implementation easy. You will also receive supporting documents to take the ideas shared from theory to practice in your classroom.