It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
With the kids bubble filling,
And everyone telling you data is near,
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Alright, so that’s a stretch. A big stretch. A humongous stretch. A…well I think you get my point.
The fact is, testing season is stressful. It’s stressful on the students, the teachers, the principals, and the support staff. Not only are schedules chaotic, but the fear that your students will completely forget EVERY. SINGLE. THING. you taught them is ever-present. #thestruggleisreal
One way to combat this keeping-you-up-at-night-turning-your-hair-gray stress is to give your kids test-taking strategies that they can actually use. We want our students to have a toolbox full of strategies and ideas that they can use to answer each question. We also want them to feel comfortable using those strategies interchangeably.
Well what exactly is a test-taking strategy? The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition states, “Test-taking strategies are defined as those test-taking processes which the respondents have selected and which they are conscious of, at least to some degree. In other words, the notion of strategy implies an element of selection. Otherwise, the processes would not be considered as strategies.”
So what has been found to be effective? Let’s dive in.
ADEQUATELY UNDERSTAND THE MATERIAL
The first strategy we can give our students is to study and prepare for tests. They can do this by:
- gathering all the necessary materials
- going to a place with little to no distraction
- having a clean working space
- putting all electronics on lockdown
- “chunk” study time into smaller pieces instead of one long session
- taking frequent, short breaks
- asking for help when needed
- reading material and write it in their own words
- creating a word map, chart, diagram, or picture of the information
STRATEGIES DURING THE TEST
As students prepare, they can practice using test-taking strategies to help them succeed. If applicable, take or create practice tests so they can get these strategies down in an actual testing environment. They can:
- start with positive self-talk (read more about dealing with testing anxiety here.)
- take deep breaths
- eliminate all distractors
- circle or underline important information or key details
- draw a picture
- do a “brain dump” in the margins or on scratch paper
- double check their work
- select the best answer
- plug in different answers (guess and check)
- pace themselves
- skip harder questions and come back to them at the end
When finished with a practice test, review the correct answers and have your students mark which answers they got wrong. There is an opportunity for growth when you can guide students through the process of understanding where they went wrong so they can correct their thinking or problem-solving process.
I have created two testing-strategy printables that can help remind your students what tools they have in their toolbox.
The first is a test-taking strategies checklist. Your students can practice going over and over different strategies they can use during a test. By the time the big testing comes at the end of the year, they’ll be so practiced that they won’t need the paper. (Which is a good thing because the chances of the proctors letting papers into the room with them is not great.)
The second is a foldable where students write in the strategies with examples. These can be done as an interactive notebook or as a stand-alone foldable that they can refer back to when needed.
By displaying and passing out these pages, you are helping give your students the strategies they need to succeed.
If you would like to get your own Test-Taking Checklist and Testing Strategies Foldable for free, we can email them to you, or you can download it from the ‘Files’ section of our Create-abilities Teacher Community Facebook Group. If you haven’t joined the group yet, it’s a very active community of thousands of teachers that love to share their best ideas! It’s also a great way to stay up-to-speed on everything Create-abilities, including product announcements, sales, freebies, live broadcasts, giveaways, and more!