In addition to teaching the subjects, you need to prepare students for standardized tests.
How do you do that? We’ve got simple and effective strategies that anyone can implement!
Making a Test Prep Plan that Works for Teacher and Students
As a teacher, you have a huge job. You are preparing students to succeed in school and in life. One of the key components to school success is testing well.
Performing well on a test means that three pieces must come together.
First, the student needs to know the content and skills.
Second, the student needs to know test-taking strategies: how to work in a time environment and how to make an educated guess.
Third, the student needs to be calm and collected to show what he knows.
You need to teach to all three of these pieces in your test prep plan.
Your test prep plan must also work for you as a teacher; it can’t take over your school day.
Tips for a Great Test Prep Plan
Test preparation in the classroom should be comprehensive, effective, and considerate of the needs of individual students. Here are some tips for designing a successful test prep plan:
Find Out Your Starting Point
Every student is different. Some already have the skills to master the test. Others need help with skills and content.
You need to know where to begin. Assess each student to find out what they know and what they need to know.
Once you know your starting point, you can design content-specific reviews to get your students up to test-taking level.
A one-size test prep plan does not fit all. You will likely need to tailor your test prep plan for individual students.
Students have different needs, learning styles, and ability levels, and offering different strategies can ensure everyone gets the right kind of help.
You can read more about differentiating test prep plans here.
Use Practice Tests
Tests are like a game, and you need to know the rules of the game. The best way to learn those rules is by doing: take practice tests.
Practice tests will acquaint your students with the type of questions, the format, and the structure of tests.
By practicing tests, you also help reduce test anxiety. If you know what to expect, you are less likely to be anxious about it.
Tech Can Help
Utilize technology to shift some of the test prep work off your shoulders.
You can mix it up by assigning interactive games and learning activities for content review and reinforcement.
Students love any type of game (they don’t need to know they are doing test prep!).
For a fun digital review, try some of these free digital escape rooms!
Leaning in groups can engage struggling students. You can form small groups where the students help one another.
Large group activities are also enjoyable and effective ways to prepare for a test. You can use games such as Last Man Standing, Four Corners, and quiz show games where tables play against each other.
You can also ask review questions of teams and tie it in with a whiteboard version of tic-tac-toe or Connect Four.
Incentives motivate students! Set some milestones and give tokens, tickets, scratch-offs, or toys as a reward.
To differentiate instruction, you may design different milestones for each student. Or you can have the class work together toward certain milestones.
Check In Regularly
When making your test prep plan, you need to check your students’ progress regularly.
Schedule regular assessment times. Not only will this give you a clear picture of what your students are retaining, but it will also give your students a chance to practice, practice, practice!
Don’t Forget Brain Breaks!
Test prep can be taxing! Make sure you add in brain breaks to de-stress and give the brain a rest!
You can tie brain breaks to music, art, games, or physical activity.
These breaks may seem like a time-waster, but they actually make your class more focused and efficient. Everyone needs a break sometimes–you included!
Loop In Parents
Don’t forget that you are partnering with parents to help their children succeed.
Communicate early and frequently about your expectations and goals for each student in regard to the test.
Give your parents tips on how they can help their child prepare at home.
Encourage Positive Self-Talk
You do not want to cultivate an attitude of dread about tests. If you allow a lot of complaining about upcoming tests, you will reinforce students’ fears.
Instead, encourage positive self-talk about the upcoming tests. Let them know success is possible.
Express your confidence in your class and in individual students. Remind them that preparation is key; they have the tools to succeed!
The Best Test Prep Tips for Teachers
Designing a successful test prep plan is not rocket science, but it does involve intentionality, planning, and communication.
By incorporating these test prep tips, you can help your students shine on their next standardized test!