By Whooo’s Reading Blog Team
Many students struggle with taking tests, whether it’s testing time or not. They get nervous, have trouble retaining information, and struggle with coming up with answers under the pressure of time. As a teacher, you can help them improve their test-taking skills, allowing them to be more comfortable and confident, in your classroom and beyond.
Figure Out the Answer Before Looking at Options
Teach students to “Come up with the answer in your head before looking at the possible answers, this way the choices given on the test won’t throw you off or trick you.”
Make Time for Movement
“Students need to blow off some steam during testing time, so they should get some exercise. Not only is this good for their bodies, but studies show that it can help jog their memory too (pun intended).”
– Kirby Spivey, teacher and writer for USA Test Prep
Reframe to Ease the Anxiety
“If your child [student] is encountering a heightened level of anxiety over a test there are certain things you can do to help alleviate the worries. You can reframe how you talk about the test and remove any of your own anxiety from your child’s presence. Try coaching your child [student] to focus on the preparation and not the test.”
Make Studying More Fun (And Interactive)
“Study guides created by the teacher or student in the form of lists may help when a student is preparing to take a test but may not be the best route for learning.
There are many digital tools that allow teachers and students to create games to make the repetition of information fun, rather than a chore. The librarian and classroom teacher can make a great team when planning and executing lessons where the students generate games for study review in any content area and across grade levels.”
– Elizabeth Kahn, Whooo’s Reading Blog
Teach With Mnemonic Aids Whenever Possible
“Be familiar with the mnemonic aids and “tricks” used for the subjects you teach. Teach students how they can develop their own mnemonic aids by using methods such as anagrams, memory pegs and phonetic number systems. Show students examples of how these strategies can be applied to improve recall before tests.”
Remind Them to Eliminate
“For multiple meaning items, make sure the word you choose fits both sentences. Begin by eliminating (crossing out) the words that do not fit the first sentence. Try only the remaining words in the second sentence.”
Feed Your Students
“It may seem outside of your responsibility, but a lot of research has been done on the effects of food (specifically, the lack of food) and test performance. You will want to make sure your students are well fed before testing starts every day.
In low socioeconomic status schools and neighborhoods, that might mean stocking up on granola bars and other snacks before testing week. In one district, the local McDonald’s restaurants offered a free breakfast for kids on test days. Look into offers like that, and make sure the kids know about them.”
Help Students Understand Testing
“When children have a better understanding of tests, they are more relaxed during testing. Explain to the class that there are many kinds of tests. Tell the class about teacher-created tests.
Explain that the tests tell teachers if children understand concepts or if teachers need to teach them again. When you give a teacher-created test, you can tell your class, ‘I created this test to help me figure out if you understand two-place multiplication. Then, I’ll know if we need to spend more time working on it.’”
– Barbara Gruber, M.A. and Sue Gruber, M.A., net
Teach Them How to Work With Reading Passages
“Discuss the merits of reading all the questions associated with a passage before actually reading the passage. Point out that doing so usually helps test-takers hone in on relevant points.”
– Margie Markarian, Scholastic
Help Them Overcome Vocabulary Issues During the Test
“Unfamiliar vocabulary in a literary text or a standardized test can confuse and/or discourage students. I always make sure my students are armed with the vocabulary strategies they need to come out victorious rather than feeling defeated after taking a test.
Here are 10 terms students should know heading into a standardized test (words may vary depending on your state test). Give your students the vocabulary confidence they need with a 10 ELA Test Terms To Know Reference Sheet.”
– 3 Test-Taking Strategies for Elementary Students, Sadlier