Test prep time can be extremely stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Keep these 7 tips for test prep in mind to make this year the best yet!
Of course, the best test prep is solid instruction all year long. I know you are already doing that. This doesn’t mean a final push won’t serve its purpose though.
7 Tips for Test Prep
Our students, and we, thrive with structure. There is no if, and, or butts about it.
When it comes to test prep time, don’t throw your routine out the window to review all day long. Instead, stick to routine as much as possible. All this will do is serve to stress you and your students out.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous. What it does mean is you are going to continue with what is expected. Each day should still hold a math block, a social studies block, etc. It is tempting to spend all day on what your students need to review the most. This is a quick way to burn out.
Gamify to Up Engagement
Gamification works. Our students are kids and as such they love to play games and have fun.
When we are in heavy review time it is all that more important we engage our students and ensure every lesson or activity is fun and rigorous.
There are many classroom games perfect for keeping engagement high along with rigor. You don’t have to sacrifice either.
Check out this post ideas for gamification.
If you have read even one other post here I am willing to bet you know I am a cooperative learning junkie. This doesn’t change when it is test prep time.
If I had to choose just one of these tips for test prep it would be this one. Cooperative learning allows and encourages students to learn from one another which is a powerful learning tool.
Check out this post for my favorite cooperative learning strategies for test prep.
Encourage Critical Thinking
Often when we go into test prep mode we focus on multiple choice questions. This style of question have a habit of eliminating some or all important critical thinking skills.
Instead of killing and drilling with multiple choice questions, encourage students to think more critically about a question by eliminating the answer choices. You don’t even have to change the question, but simply cover the answer choices.
To take this process one step further, have students compare and debate their answers until they can come to a consensus.
Use Your Data
You know you have a binder full of data from all the pre and post tests you gave this year. You also know you have a full noggin full of data, because well, you know your students better than anyone else.
Don’t start all over again. Instead, use the data you have to help your students and plan your test prep schedule accordingly.
Focus on Small Group Instruction
The truth is small group instruction is a powerful tool all year. During test prep time you can really hone in on students’ needs and focus on specific skills using basic tools such as dry erase boards and manipulatives.
It is tempting to spend all of your review time teaching whole group. That isn’t going to reach all of your students. Your high and on level students will be bored out of their minds, and your students who haven’t mastered the content yet likely still won’t.
Instead, spend the time focusing on skill specific grouping and working with a small, think five or less at a time, group of students to help with specific needs.
The 7th of my tips for test prep is to use a resource that will spiral your content in a meaningful way that builds to student mastery.
When I was in the classroom I couldn’t find what I needed, so I made one, Test Smash. Each day of Test Smash has a question for each of the readiness standards. This spiral review allows students to see standards in different ways and practice solving so they are familiar and feel confident going into the test.
This confidence, and the data recording sheet included, help students to reach mastery and get ready to smash the test!
Wrapping Up the 7 Tips for Test Prep
It is easy to get wrapped up in the hullabaloo that is test prep, but by following these 7 tips for test prep you and your students can remain calm, focused, and ready to smash the test.
At the end of the day, it is a test. No test is ever going to be able to tell you or your students anything more than how they performed on a singular day and test.
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.