How many tests do your students take each year? Ensuring that students have the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to successfully complete tests is an essential part of your job as a teacher, especially since many students experience test anxiety. Even if you don't agree with the emphasis on testing scores, it's important that you prepare your students for the different kinds of tests they'll take and help them develop good test-taking strategies. Here are a few helpful test-taking strategies you can share with your students:
- Remind students of stress management techniques they can use to conquer test anxiety. Show them some yoga poses they can do at home or do a small yoga session as a class before the test. It's also important to show them different breathing exercises they can use to relax and de-stress during the test.
- Recap relevant lessons, assignments, etc. to help students remember what they've learned about the content covered on the test. What you recap will depend on the test. If it's a standardized test, you'll need to recap the bigger projects and assignments. If it's a quiz or smaller test, you can be more specific and focus on some of the smaller assignments and projects.
- Have everyone take a practice test and help children understand how they should approach the test and the routine they should follow for completing it. Practice tests are a great way to gauge students' knowledge and help them figure out why they got certain problems wrong or right. Read our "Promoting Intentional Test-Taking Strategies" blog post for tips on establishing testing routines.
- Discuss the importance of reading instructions, paying attention to details, and using context clues to solve test problems. If students don't read through the instructions or pay attention to specific numbers or words, they may not understand what the question is asking or use the wrong information to solve the problem.
- Teach children to practice good time management skills when taking tests. Remind them to answer every question but mark ones they want to come back to if time permits. Students need to monitor their time and stay focused on completing the test.
- Make sure children know what they are and aren't allowed to do during the test. Children need to know if they're allowed to stand up from their desks or raise their hands to ask a question. If children struggle with sitting for long periods of time or are experiencing test anxiety, doing breathing exercises, wriggling their fingers and toes, doing a few small stretches, or picturing themselves in a calm place for a few moments are all strategies that can help them get through the test.
- If children finish early, make sure they know to take the time to check their work. Have they answered all of the questions? Did they revisit the questions they were unsure of? Did they accidently leave words out in their response or put down the wrong number?
Students may feel tired, upset, or antsy after a test, which is why it's important to come up with after-test activities that can help them de-stress, such as free reading or writing, yoga, or a quick walk around the school. Be sure to browse our Elementary section for a variety of materials you can use to help children learn content and prepare for tests.