As your test day approaches and anxiety ramps up, you may think that there’s nothing more you can do to prepare your students for test day. But, there are always ways to support students. Here are ten tips to ensure that they have every chance to succeed!
1. Prepare students for the test itself
Tests change even more often than standards, based on such things as contractor changes, technology upgrades, and other factors. Make them test demos available to your students, and ensure that students know how to navigate any software that is needed. This is particularly applicable to math, where helpful tools like calculators may be hidden under a button or setting.
2. Benchmark your learners
Conduct one more benchmark assessment before the testing season to ensure that there isn’t one last topic in which everyone can improve with just a bit more practice. You’ve done a lot of benchmarking up to now, but things often change quickly during the school year.
3. Leverage your valuable data
Look thoroughly at your data to ensure that there isn’t something missing from your students’ skill sets. In fact, bring in the students so that they understand the skills they need and learn where they must progress in order to score well on the test itself.
4. Motivate students with incentives
Students aren’t typically known for intrinsic motivation, and a lot of practice can test their patience even further. Whenever possible, make practice a game, and offer consistent rewards to keep the students motivated.
5. Practice previewing
Previewing test sections before answering questions can be a valuable skill on test day, saving time and closing gaps of understanding. Although it’s great to practice previewing in the context of a larger testing item, devoting some time to previewing itself can help all students get the point.
6. Let parents help
Although local news reports may run the occasional story about upcoming testing, parents won’t know what’s going on with their individual children unless you tell them. Keep them informed of the schedule, the process, and the preparations the class is taking. This enables parents to have meaningful conversations and help with test practice.
7. Create a positive culture
Help students set some goals and then never let them act as though they won’t reach those goals. Celebrate every little success during practice, and model that culture for other students as well. This encouragement can alleviate much student anxiety when test day comes.
8. Practice, practice, practice!
The cliché is true: practice does make perfect. Create a review plan that provides multiple chances for students to practice not only the content they will need to know but also the testing format. Ensure that your plan includes modalities beyond taking practice tests—games, writing, and speech exercises can help students retain information and gain a deeper understanding of concepts. The more exposure that students have to the material and testing environment, the more confident they will be when the testing day arrives.
9. Be the students’ “catering manager”
On testing day, students’ minds are in their stomachs. Research has proven repeatedly that hungry students perform more poorly on tests than those who are well fed. Come to testing day with granola or energy bars if you can, and ask parents to try to do their best on the home front.
10. Keep students moving
Much like a rumbling stomach, an aching back or neck can have a negative impact on a student’s score. Spend some time showing students proven seated stretching techniques and breathing exercises. If the test offers a break period, encourage students to use it to move around, and not stay seated in the same place.